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Li Bai 701 to 762
Li Bai
701-762


Theme:  Poetry and Poets


Other English translations:
On The Ship Of Spice-wood
(Obata)
The River Song
(Pound) A/V


NOTES:
Li Bai is also known as Li Po, Li Bo, Li Tai-po, and as   Rihaku (Japanese name).

Amy Lowell, the co-translator of this poem with Florence Ayscough, also contributes her own wine poems to vintagewinepoems.com.

The indentations in this poem indicate the continuation of the previous line, which does not fit within the  specified margins of this web page.  Compare with the printable version (see link below).

This translation by Ayscough and Lowell, receives the “wine poem” designation because of the 6th stanza, which I see as an important “brush-stroke” in describing this scene.  I offer the other two translations here at vintagewinepoems.com (by Obata and Pound, see above) as a demonstration of the important role that the translator of poetry plays.  All three translations have their strong points.

1. The Chinese flageolet is musical instrument, played like a flute or recorder.

2. “The Immortal” is a reference to Taoist “saint” Tou Tz-a, who attained immortality and was transported to Paradise by a crane so old that it had turned yellow.  The next two lines refer to a Taoist tale about a man who was so loved by sea gulls that hundreds would gather around him whenever he put to sea.

3. The “tzu and fu” are irregular forms of verse used by Ch' P'ing, a famous poet of China who also went by the name Ch' Yan (332-295 bce).

4. The “Five Peaks” is a reference to the sacred mountains (representing the four points on a compass and the center of the earth).
- S. H. Bass    

Special Note:  The Wine Poems of China


more Li Bai at
 
vintagewinepoems
.com

A Farewell Banquet (Lowell)
A Midnight Farewell (Obata)

A Mountain Revelry (Obata)

At The Ancestral Shrine Of King Yao (Lowell)

Before The Cask of Wine (Obata)

Descending The Extreme South Mountain (Lowell)

Drinking Alone by Moonlight II (Waley)

Drinking Alone On The Rock (Lowell)

Maid Of Wu (Obata)

On Being Asked Who He Is (Obata)

On The Yo-Yang Tower (Obata)

Sent As A Parting Gift (Lowell)

Taking Leave Of Du Fu (Lowell)

The Terraced Road (Lowell)

To Meng Haojan (Obata)

Two Poems Written As Parting Gifts (Lowell)

While Journeying (Obata)

With A Man of Leisure (Obata)


poems with multiple English translations:
After Being Drunk On a Spring Day (Lowell)
Awakening From Sleep On A Spring Day
(Obata)
Waking From Drunkenness on a Spring Day
(Waley)

Drinking Alone In The Moonlight I
(Lowell)
Three With The Moon And His Shadow
(Obata)
Drinking Alone by Moonlight I
(Waley) A/V

Drinking Alone In The Moonlight II
(Lowell)
A Vindication
(Obata)
Drinking Alone by Moonlight III
(Waley)

Drinking Song
(Lowell)
An Exhortation
(Obata)

On The Eve Of Starting On A Journey
(Lowell)
Parting At a Tavern of Chin-Ling
(Obata)

Old Tai's Wine-Shop
(Lowell)
On The Death Of The Good Brewer
(Obata)

The Solitude of Night
(Obata)
Self-Abandonment
(Waley)

River Chant
Li Bai (701 – 762), Chinese poet
translation by Florence Ayscough (1878-1942), British scholar
English verse by Amy Lowell (1874-1925), American poet

Fig-wood oars,
A boat of the wood of the sand-pear.
At either end,
Jade flageolets and pipes of gold. 1

Amidships,
Jars of delectable wine,
And ten thousand pints
Put by.

A boat-load of singing-girls
Following the water ripples
Going,
Stopping,
Veering –

The Immortal waited, 2
Then mounted and rode the yellow crane.
But he who is the guest of the sea has no such
desire,
Rather would he be followed by the white gulls.

The tzu and fu of Ch'ii P'ing hang suspended like
the sun and
 moon; 3
The terraces and the pleasure-houses
Of the Kings of Ch'u
Are empty heaps of earth.

I am drunk with wine,
With the sweet taste of it;
I am overflowed with the joy of it.
When I take up my writing-brush,
I could move the Five Peaks. 4

When I have finished my poem,
I laugh aloud in my arrogance.
I rise to the country of the Immortals which lies
in the middle of
 the sea.
If fame followed the ways of the good official,
If wealth and rank were long constant,
Then indeed might the water of the Han River
flow North-west.


from Fir-Flower Tablets: Poems From The Chinese (1921)


Fir-Flower Tablets
 Poems From The Chinese
(1921)


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