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Poetry of Li Bai

Li Bai or Li Po or Li Bo (701-762)

A Chinese Taoist poet. He was part of the group of Chinese scholars called the “Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup” in a poem by fellow poet Du Fu. Li Bai is often regarded, along with Du Fu, as one of the two greatest poets in China’s literary history.

Drinking Alone by Moonlight

A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For her, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;

Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.

To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;

Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.

Sitting Alone on Jingting Shan Hill

A flock of birds is flying high in the distance,
A lonely cloud drifts idly on its own.
We gaze at each other, neither growing tired,
There is only Jingting Shan.

Visiting the Taoist Priest Dai Tianshan But Not Finding Him

A dog’s bark amid the water’s sound,
Peach blossom that’s made thicker by the rain.
Deep in the trees, I sometimes see a deer,
And at the stream I hear no noonday bell.
Wild bamboo divides the green mist,
A flying spring hangs from the jasper peak.
No-one knows the place to which he’s gone,
Sadly, I lean on two or three pines.

Question and Answer on the Mountain

You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain,
I smile, but do not answer, my heart is at leisure.
Peach blossom is carried far off by flowing water,
Apart, I have heaven and earth in the human world.

Staying the Night at a Mountain Temple

The high tower is a hundred feet tall,
From here one’s hand could pluck the stars.
I do not dare to speak in a loud voice,
I fear to disturb the people in heaven.

On Dragon Hill

Drunk on Dragon Hill tonight,
the banished immortal, Great White,

turns among yellow flowers,
his smile wide,

as his hat sails away on the wind
and he dances away in the moonlight.

Blue Mountain

Why dwell in the Blue Mountain
I laugh without answering
Silence of water and blossoming flowers
World beyond the red dust of living

Spring Night in Lo-yang Hearing a Flute

Phoenixes played here once, so this place was named for them,
Have abandoned it now to this desolated river;
The paths of Wu Palace are crooked with weeds;
The garments of China are ancient dust.
…Like this green horizon halving the Three Peaks,
Like this Island of White Egrets dividing the river,
A cloud has risen between the Light of Heaven and me,
To hide the city from my melancholy heart.

Mount Lu

I climbed west on Incense Cloud Peak.
South I saw the spray-filled falls
Dropping for ten thousand feet
Sounding in a hundred gorges,
Suddenly as if lightning shone,
Strange as if light-wet rainbows lifted.
I thought the Milky Way had shattered,
Scattering stars through the clouds, downwards.

Looking up an even greater force.
Nature’s powers are so intense.
The Cosmic Wind blows there without stop.
The river’s moon echoes back the light
Into vortices where waters rush.
On both sides the clear walls were washed,
By streams of pearl broken into mist,
By clouds of foam whitening over rock.

Let me reach those Sublime Hills
Where peace comes to the quiet heart.
No more need to find the magic cup.
I’ll wash the dust, there, from my face,
And live in those regions that I love,
Separated from the Human World.

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