Most Popular Poem by the Most Famous Chinese Poet
I wake and moonbeams play around my bed
Glittering like hoarfroast to my wondering eyes
Upwards the glorious moon I raise my head
Then lay me down and thoughts of home arise
Athwart the bed
I watch the moonbeams cast a trail
So Bright, so cold, so frail,
That for a space it gleams
Like hoar-frost on the margin of my dreams.
I raise my head, --
The splendid moon I see:
The droop my head,
And to dreams of thee --
My Fatherland, of thee!
Before my bed a frost of light
Is it hoarfrost upon the ground Eyes raised,
I see the moon so bright
Head bent, in homesickness I'm drowned
Chuang qian ming yue guang
Yi Shi di shang shuang
Ju tou wang ming yue
Di tou si gu xiang
Li Bai (701-762) was born in Suiye in Central Asia. His ancestors had been banished there by the Sui rulers. At five he moved to Sichuan with his father, who was probably a rich merchant. When young, he studied not only Confucian classics, but works of other schools.
After 20 he first travelled for and wide in Sichuan, and then he started a long journey to Central, East and North China. He did not sit for the civil service examination, for he looked down upon it. But he wished to become an official.
When he was 42, he was recommended to Tang Xuan Zong , who ordered him to go to Chang'an. He stayed there for three years and was bitterly disappointed. During the years of An Lushan's rebellion, he joined the staff of Prince Li Lin. Later, because Li Lin tried to seize power and failed, Li Bai was exiled to Yelang. On his way to Yelang he was freed by an amnesty. He went to East China and died at 62 in Dangtu, Anhui.
Li Bai's Poems in English
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