Drinking Alone *

poetry 0
Li Bai, tr. from the Chinese by Yun Wang

 

独酌

春草如有意
罗生玉堂阴
东风吹愁来
白发坐相侵
独酌劝孤影
闲歌面芳林
长松尔何知
萧瑟为谁吟
手舞石上月
膝横花间琴
过此一壶外
悠悠非我心

Spring grass must feel tenderness
To sprout in the Jade Hall’s shade
East wind blows in sadness
White hairs invade even as I sit
Drinking alone I consort with my shadow
Sing leisurely towards blooming trees
Tall pines what do you know
For whom do you rustle and chant
My hands dance as the moon lights rocks
The guqin on my knees among flowers
Beyond this jug of wine
My heart longs for nothing


* Li Bai wrote this poem in 753 AD in the Liang Garden, a vast imperial garden complex built by King Liang Xiao, Liu Wu (~144 BC), located in Henan Province. The guqin is an ancient Chinese plucked string instrument.

Li Bai (701–762 AD), or “Li Po,” known as the Exiled Immortal, is the most celebrated and beloved poet in Chinese history. His poetic genius stunned his contemporaries and continues to amaze new readers twelve hundred years later.

Yun Wang is the author of The Book of Mirrors (White Pine Press, 2021), The Book of Totality (Salmon Poetry Press, 2015), The Book of Jade (Story Line Press, 2002), and Dreaming of Fallen Blossoms: Tune Poems of Su Dong-Po (White Pine Press, 2019).