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The Rhyme Maker
Li Bai 701 to 762
Li Bai

Theme:  Tributes and Toasts

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

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

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.
- S. H. Bass

Special Note:  The Wine Poems of China

more Li Bai at

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)

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
Waking From Drunkenness on a Spring Day

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

Drinking Alone In The Moonlight II
A Vindication
Drinking Alone by Moonlight III

Drinking Song
An Exhortation

On The Eve Of Starting On A Journey
Parting At a Tavern of Chin-Ling

Old Tai's Wine-Shop
On The Death Of The Good Brewer

River Chant
On The Ship Of Spice-wood
The River Song
(Pound) A/V

The Solitude of Night
Two Poems Written As Parting Gifts
Li Bai (701–762), Chinese poet
translation by Florence Ayscough (1878-1942), British scholar
English versions by Amy Lowell (1874-1925), American poet

I love Ts'ui of Ch'iu Pu.
He follows the ways of the Official T'ao.
At his gate, he has planted five willow-trees,
And on either side of the well, crowding it 
between  them, stand
 two wu-t'ung trees . . .
Mountain birds fly down and listen while he transacts business;
From the eaves of his house, flowers drop into the midst of his
Thinking of my Lord, I cannot bear to depart.
My thoughts are melancholy and endless.

My Lord is like T'ao of P'eng Tse.
Often, during the day, he sleeps at the North
Again, in the moonlight, he bends over his table-lute and plays,
His hands follow his thoughts, for there are no strings.
When a guest comes, it is wine alone which he pours out.
He is the best of officials, since he does not care for gold.
He has planted many grains on the Eastern heights,
And he admonishes all the people to plow their fields early.

“Two Poems Written As Parting Gifts To Ts'ui (the official) Of Ch'iu Pu”, from Fir-Flower Tablets: Poems From The Chinese (1921)

Special Note:  In both these poems, Li Bai compares "Ts'ui of Ch'iu Pu" to Tao Yuanming (T'ao of P'eng Tse, 2nd poem).  Tao Yuanming is from the Six Dynasties period (c. 220 – 589), the period just prior to the Tang Dynasty, the “Golden Age” of Chinese literature .  He is the most highly regarded poet prior to the Tang era.

The peoples of Li Bai's time were very familiar with stories concerning Tao Yuanming.  He planted five willows in front of his house, and is therefore often spoken of as the " Teacher of the Five Willows." - a fact alluded to in the first poem.

 In the second poem, Yuanming's love for music is alluded to.  It touched his very soul, so much so that he declared he could imagine the sweet sounds of the ch'in, and could be seen often moving his hands as if playing the string-instrument, lost in the the rapture of the music in his heart and mind - a "Zen" version of the "air guitar" perhaps.  

The ch'in, or table-lute, is a string-instrument which lies flat on a table.  It is "one of the most ancient instruments, and certainly the most poetical of all … The dimensions, the number of strings, the form, and whatever is connected with this instrument had their principles in Nature.  Thus the ch'in measured 3.66 feet, because the year contains a maximum of 366 days; the number of strings was five, to agree with the five elements; the upper part was made round, to represent the firmament; the bottom was flat, to represent the ground; and the thirteen studs stood for the twelve moons and the intercalary moon. The strings were also subjected to certain laws.  The thickest string was composed of two hundred and forty threads and represented the Sovereign.

("Chinese Music," by J. A. Van Aalst., as found in Fir-Flower Tablets: Poems from the Chinese)
- S. H. Bass

Fir-Flower Tablets
 Poems From The Chinese

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