The Hard Road
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-20 14:13:52

The Hard Road by Li Bai (Li Po)






English Translation

Pure wine costs, for the golden cup, ten thousand coppers a flagon,

And a jade plate of dainty food calls for a million coins.

I fling aside my food-sticks and cup, I cannot eat nor drink....

I pull out my dagger, I peer four ways in vain.

I would cross the Yellow River, but ice chokes the ferry;

I would climb the Taihang Mountains, but the sky is blind with snow....

I would sit and poise a fishing-pole, lazy by a brook --

But I suddenly dream of riding a boat, sailing for the sun....

Journeying is hard,

Journeying is hard.

There are many turnings --

Which am I to follow?....

I will mount a long wind some day and break the heavy waves

And set my cloudy sail straight and bridge the deep, deep sea.


Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

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