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Li Shih-chi
early 8th Century

Theme  Other

Translator's Notes:
A book called "Facts about Poets" says: "In the Matter part of the Kai-yuan Era (A.D. 713-742) the prime minister, Li Shih-chi, had an enviable reputation for his simplicity and rugged uprightness.  Li Ling-fu hated him, and by slander and intrigue caused his retirement.  All those at the court knew the innocence of Shih-chi, but the emperor neglected to consult him. Fretting under this mistreatment, Shih-chi drank wine daily and also made poems.” – of which this is a specimen. He describes the' solitude and ease of his private life.  By "avoiding the wise" is meant vacating one's official position in order to make way for the wise and talented. T he phrase, first used by Shih Ching of the Han dynasty in his petition for his release from the office of the premier, had become a stock pretext for the retiring official.

On the other hand, the thick wine was called the wise, and the clear wine the sage.  Hence, there is in this poem a play on words with a subtle irony, of a kind much relished by the literary Chinese.
   - Shigeyoshi Obata, translator                   
The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet

Special Note:   The Wine Poems of China

Stop Button Clutter!
The Ex-Minster
Li Shih-chi (early 8th Century), Chinese poet
translated by Shigeyoshi Obata (1888-1971)

Avoiding the wise, I've resigned
From the empire's ministry,
Loving the sage, still I sip
The soothing cup of wine.

Ah, those eager visitors of yesterday,
Who flocked at the front of my gate –
How many of them have come
This morning, I pray?

from The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet (1921)

The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet (1921)

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