Li Bai

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Li Bai Chanting a Poem, by Liang K'ai (1140 - 1210)

Li Bai or Li Po (701-762) was a Chinese poet living during the Tang Dynasty. He was traditionally known as Lǐ Bó in Chinese, hence the familiar name Li Po in Wade-Giles romanisation. Called the Poet Immortal, Li Bai is often regarded, along with Du Fu, as one of the two greatest poets in China's literary history.


  • 花間一壺酒。
    • 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 he, 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.
    • "Drinking Alone by Moonlight" (月下獨酌), translated by Arthur Waley (1919).
  • 床前明月光,
    • Before bed, the bright moon was shining.
      Now, I think the ground has a frost covering.
      I raise my head … to view the bright moon,
      Then I lower my head … and I think of home.
    • "Thoughts on a Still Night" (静夜思), in Jean Ward's Li T'ai-po: Remembered (2008), p. 99
  • 云想衣裳花想容,
    • Her robe is a cloud, her face a flower;
      Her balcony, glimmering with the bright spring dew,
      Is either the tip of earth's Jade Mountain,
      Or a moon-edged roof of paradise
    • "A Song Of Pure Happiness I" (清平调之一)
  • All the birds have flown up and gone;
    A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
    We never tire of looking at each other -
    Only the mountain and I.
    • [38] "Alone Looking at the Mountain", translated by Sam Hamill
  • The birds have vanished down the sky.
    Now the last cloud drains away.
    We sit together, the mountain and me,
    until only the mountain remains.
    • [38] Alone Looking at the Mountain
    • Translation by Sam Hamill
  • From the walls of Baidi high in the colored dawn
    To Jiangling by night-fall is three hundred miles,
    Yet monkeys are still calling on both banks behind me
    To my boat these ten thousand mountains away.
    • [33] "Through the Yangzi Gorges"
  • 镜湖三百里,
    • On Mirror Lake outspread for miles and miles,
      The lotus lilies in full blossom teem.
      In fifth moon Xi Shi gathers them with smiles,
      Watchers o'erwhelm the bank of Yuoye Stream.
      Her boat turns back without waiting moonrise
      To yoyal house amid amorous sighs.
    • Ballads Of Four Seasons: Summer (子夜四时歌 夏歌)
  • Since Life is but a Dream,
    Why toil to no avail?
    • "A Homily on Ideals in Life, Uttered in Springtime on Rising From a Drunken Slumber" (c. 750)
    • John A. Turner, John J. Deeney, Kenneth K. B. Li, A Golden Treasury of Chinese Poetry: 121 Classical Poems (1976), p. 115

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