Invitation to Wine
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-31 16:36:35

Invitation to Wine by Li Bai (Li Po)













English Translation

Do you not see the Yellow River come from the sky,

Rushing into the sea and ne'er come back?

Do you not see the mirrors bright in chambers high 

Grieve o'er your snow-white hair though once it was silk-black?

When hopes are won, oh! drink your fill in high delight,

And never leave your wine-cup empty in moonlight!

Heaven has made us talents, we're not made in vain.

A thousand gold coins spent, more will turn up again.

Kill a cow, cook a sheep and let us merry be,

And drink three hundred cupfuls of wine in high glee!

Dear friends of mine,

Cheer up,cheer up!

I invite you to wine.

Do not put down your cup!

I will sing you a song, please hear,

O hear! lend me a willing ear!

What difference will rare and costly dishes make?

I only want to get drunk and never to wake.

How many great men were forgotten through the ages?

But great drinkers are more famous than sober sages.

The Prince of Poets feast'd in his palace at will,

Drank wine at ten thousand a cask and laughed his fill 

A host should not complain of money he is short,

To drink with you I will sell things of any sort.

My fur coat worth a thousand coins of gold 

And my flower-dAppled horse may be sold 

To buy good wine that we may drown the woe age-old.


The poet invites his friends to wine so as to drown the age-old sorrow.

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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