Reflections on the Moon While Drinking
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-20 14:58:06

Reflections on the Moon While Drinking by Li Bai (Li Po)









English Translation

When did the moon first come on high?

I stop drinking to ask the sky.

The moon's beyond the reach of man;

It follows us where'er it can.

Like mirror bright o'er palace wall,

When clouds disperse, it's seen by all.

At night, it rises out of the sea;

At dawn, who knows where it can be?

Jade Hare is not companion boon 

For lonely Goddess of the Moon.

We see the ancient moon no more,

But it has shone on men of yore.

Like flowing stream, they passed away;

They saw the moon as we do today.

I only wish when I drink wine,

Moonlight dissolve in goblet mine.

According to Chinese legend, the Jade Hare keeps company with the lonely Goddess of the Moon.

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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