Li Bai Poetry   
 [Li Po, Li Tai-Po] 


English Translation


You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;

I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.

As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,

I have a world apart that is not among men.


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[43] Green Mountain
Chang-an -- one slip of moon;

in ten thousand houses, the sound of fulling mallets.

Autumn winds keep on blowing,

all things make me think of Jade Pass!

When will they put down the barbarians

and my good man come home from his far campaign?

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[04] Ziyi Song
Amidst the flowers a jug of wine,

I pour alone lacking companionship.

So raising the cup I invite the Moon,

Then turn to my shadow which makes three of us.

Because the Moon does not know how to drink,

My shadow merely follows the movement of my body.

The moon has brought the shadow to keep me company a while,

The practice of mirth should keep pace with spring.

I start a song and the moon begins to reel,

I rise and dance and the shadow moves grotesquely.

While I'm still conscious let's rejoice with one another,

After I'm drunk let each one go his way.

Let us bind ourselves for ever for passionless journeyings.

Let us swear to meet again far in the Milky Way.


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[06] Amidst the Flowers a Jug of Wine
Pure wine costs, for the golden cup,

ten thousand coppers a flagon,

And a jade plate of dainty food calls for million coins.

I fling aside my chop-sticks and cup, I cannot eat nor drink...

I pull out my dagger, I peer four ways in vain.

I would cross the Yellow River, but ice chokes the ferry;

I would climb the Tai-hang Mountains,

but the sky is blind with snow..

I would sit and poise a fishing-pole, lazy by a brook --

But I suddenly dream of riding a boat, sailing for the sun...

Journeying is hard,

Journeying is hard.

There are many turings --

Which am I to follow?...

I will mount a long wind some day and break the heavy waves

And set my cloudy sail straight and bridge the deep, deep sea.


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[08] The Hard Road - 1 of 3
Since yesterday had throw me and bolt,
Today has hurt my heart even more.
The autumn wildgeese have a long wing for escort
As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.
The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the school of heaven,
And I am Lesser Hsieh growing up by your side.
We both are exalted to distant thought,
Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.
But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,
And sorrow return,though we drown them with wine,
Since the world can in no way answer our craving,
I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishing-boat.

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[11] A Farewell to Secretary Shu-yun at the Hsieh Tiao Villa in Hsuan-Chou
A wind, bringing willow-cotton, sweetens the shop,
And a girl from Wu, pouring wine, urges me to share it.
With my comrades of the city who are here to see me off;
And as each of them drains his cup, I say to him in parting,
Oh, go and ask this river running to the east
If it can travel farther than a friend's love!

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[15] Parting at a Wine-shop in Nan-king
See how the Yellow River's water move out of heaven.
Entering the ocean,never to return.
See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers,
Though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.
... Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases
And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!
Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!
Spin a thousand of pieces of silver, all of them come back!
Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,
And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!
... To the old master, Tsen,
And the young scholar, Tan-chiu,
Bring in the wine!
Let your cups never rest!
Let me sing you a song!
Let your ears attend!
What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure?
Let me br forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.
... Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection
Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.
Why say, my host, that your money is gone?
Go and buy wine and we'll drink it together!
My flower-dappled horse,
My furs worth a thousand,
Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine,
And we'll drown away the woes of ten thousand generation!

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[23] Bringing in the Wine
A bright moon rising above Tian Shan Mountain,
Lost in a vast ocean of clouds.
The long wind, across thousands upon thousands of miles,
Blows past the Jade-gate Pass.
The army of Han has gone down the Baiteng Road,
As the barbarian hordes probe at Qinghai Bay.
It is known that from the battlefield
Few ever live to return.
Men at Garrison look on the border scene,
Home thoughts deepen sorrow on their faces.
In the towered chambers tonight,
Ceaseless are the women's sighs.

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[33] Moon over Mountain Pass
All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other -
Only the mountain and I.
-----------------------------------------------
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
Tr. Sam Hamill
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[38] Alone Looking at the Mountain
From the walls of Baidi high in the coloured dawn

To Jiangling by night-fall is three hundred miles,

Yet monkeys are still calling on both banks behind me

To my boat these ten thousand mountains away.


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[39] Through the YangZi Gorges
In what house, the jade flute that sends these dark notes drifting,
scattering on the spring wind that fills Lo-yang?
Tonight if we should hear the willow-breaking song,
who could help but long for the gardens of home?

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[58] Spring Night in Lo-yang Hearing a Flute
Phoenixes that play here once, so that the place was named for them,
Have abandoned it now to this desolated river;
The paths of Wu Palace are crooked with weeds;
The garments of Chin are ancient dust.
...Like this green horizon halving the Three Peaks,
Like this Island of White Egrets dividing the river,
A cloud has risen between the Light of Heaven and me,
To hide his city from my melancholy heart.
[Chinese | Chinese gif|
[62] On Climbing in Nan-king to the Terrace of Phoenixes
I met Du Fu on a mountaintop

in August when the sun was hot.

Under the shade of his big straw hat

his face was sad--

in the years since we last parted,

he'd grown wane, exhausted.

Poor old Du Fu, I thought then,

he must be agonizing over poetry again.

tr. Hamil

About Du Fu

Thousands of feet high towers the Yellow Mountains
With its thirty-two magnificent peaks,
Blooming like golden lotus flowers
Amidst red crags and rock columns.
Once I was on its lofty summit,
Admiring Tianmu Pine below.
The place is still traceable where the immortal
Before ascending to heaven made elixir out of jade.
Now you embark on your journey there alone---
Another Wen Boxue* I happened to meet---
Who've been to Five Mountains for beauty of nature,
Leaving behind countless ranges of hills.
Homeward you go back to White Goose Ridge,
Back to drink from your Elixir Well.
If by chance I pay you a visit,
I expect to be met by your light carriage.
Eastwards from Lingyang you bend your steps,
And pick your way through fragrant bushes,
Many a stream and many a ford,
Peaks upon peaks shutting out the sky
That's where I'll call on you some other day
Across a bridge that spans cliffs like a rainbow.

*Wen Boxue, mentioned by Zhuang Zi as a wise scholar contemporary with Confucius.


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Seeing off Hermit Wen Back to Former Residence White Goose Peak in the Yellow Mountains

Clouds bring back to mind her dress, the flowers her face.

Winds of spring caress the rail where sparkling dew-drops cluster.

If you cannot see her by the jewelled mountain top,

Maybe on the moonlit Jasper Terrance you will meet her.

tr. D. Mackintosh


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[024] Ch'ing P'ing Tiao

Here he is, my good old friend!
He's at Yellow Crane Terrace on a western departure.
And--we're saying goodbye, goodbye.
He's in a cloud of third-month blossoms.
He's off downstream to Yang-chou.
That shadow there is his lonely sail.
Now there's nothing left of it.
All the blue is empty now.
All you can see is that long, long river.
It flows to the edge of the sky.

tr. Kenneth Hope


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[Yellow Crane Terrace]

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