UPDATE – The poem for today, the first of Bai Juyi’s “Bemoaning My Old Age: Three Poems” (叹老三首), will be up later this afternoon; my translation is done, but I need to check one of the lines. In the meantime, look at the comments for this poem, where Oli and Kun quite rightly point out that I screwed up in a couple places with this translation.
Another famous Li Bai poem today. 月下独酌, or “Drinking Alone in the Moonlight,” is, like a lot of Li Bai’s stuff, about getting drunk.
As a theme, that gets old pretty fast; a lot of his stuff strikes me as being a Classical Chinese version of “Yo, you guys, you wouldn’t believe how wasted I got the other night!” — but then again, I’m a foreigner, so I know nothing.
At any rate, where yesterday’s poem, 将进酒 (“Bring in the Wine!”), was a blustery, stream-of-consciousness rant in the 乐府 “folk ballad” style, “Drinking Alone in the Moonlight” is in the 五言古诗 five-character classical form, giving it a much calmer feel.
I’ll be out of town over the weekend, but it seems reasonable to make this a “poem of the weekday” thing anyway. I’ll probably put these translations on a separate blog soon, and include more notes on the translations, as well as questions about things I’m not sure of. In the meantime:
Li Bai: Drinking Alone in the Moonlight
With a pot of wine in a field of flowers,
I drank alone, no friends at hand.
So I raised my cup to invite the moon,
And my shadow behind me made three of us.
Now, the Moon didn’t know how to drink,
And my shadow just followed me round,
But I stayed with the moon, and moved with my shadow,
As we had a fine time, awaiting the Spring.
When I sang, the moon swayed back and forth,
And when I danced, my shadow went wild.
Sober, we were the best of friends;
Drunk, we went our separate ways,
Returning forever to our lonely travels,
Agreeing to meet again some time, out past where the Milky Way ends.