Several Translations of A Poem by Li Bai (Li Po) Li Bai's Poetry - China the Beautiful


Toughts in Night Quiet

So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed --
Could there have been a frost already?
Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.
Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home.

(Tr. Witter Byner, 1920, from "300 Tang Poems")

Seeing moonlight here at my bed,
and thinking it is frost on the ground,

I look up, gaze at the mountain moon,
and back, dreaming of my old home.

tr. David Hinton

So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed --
Could there have been a frost already?

Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.
Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home.

tr. Anon

Seeing the moonlight in front of my bed --
I took it for frost on the ground!

Lifting my head to watch the bright moon,
I thought of hometown when I bent my head.

tr. Anon.

The bright moon shone
before my bed,

I wondered --
was it frost upon the ground?

I raised my head
to gaze at the clear moon,

Bowed my head
remembering my old home.

tr. Anon.


Before my bed a pool of light 
Can it be hoar-frost on the ground?
Looking up, I find the moon bright;
Bowing, in homesickness I am drowned.

( Tr. Li Ziliang, Li Gouqing and Zhao Feifei,
from "Chinese Literature, Cultural China Series")
(Also, Tr. Xu Yuanchong, 1988 and 2001,
from "300 Gems of Classical Chinese Poetry")

The floor before my bed is bright:
Moonlight - like hoarfrost - in my room.
I lift my head and watch the moon.
I drop my head and think of home.

(Tr. Vikram Seth, 1992, from "3 Chinese Poets")

Moon's bright light descends Like a blanket of snow around My bed. I raise my head to the bright moon, Then bow it low and long for home.

(Tr. Liu Yingkai and Steven Schroeder, 1999,
Roosevelt University Press)

Beside my bed a pool of light--- Is it hoarfrost on the ground? I lift my eyes and see the moon, I bend my head and think of home.

(Tr. Xianyi and Gladys Yang, 1984,
from "Poetry and Prose of the Tang and Song")

I saw the moonlight before my couch,
And wondered if it were not frost on the ground.
I raised my head and looked out on the bright moon;
I bowed my head and thought of my far-off home.

(Tr.Lewis S. Robinson, 1978, from"China's Ancient Poets")


Before my bed there is bright moonlight
So that it seems like frost on the ground:
Lifting my head I watch the bright moon,
Lowering my head I dream that I'm home.

(Tr. Arthur Cooper, 1973,
from "Penguin Classics, Poems Selected and Translated")

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