Li Bai’s Moon

Li Bai's moon
Li Bai's moon

This image was created in response to the mood of Li Bai’s famous poem.

床 前 明 月 光

疑 是 地 上 霜

舉 頭 望 明 月

低 頭 思 故 鄉

The moon shines on the bed,

like frost covering the ground.

Looking up, pondering the moon.

Looking down, remembering home.

(English version by Maxime Dallaire)

image (cc) 2008 Hilary Farmer

21 thoughts on “Li Bai’s Moon

  1. Hi Hilary,

    Been a while, last time we talked you were telling me about good vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan, and I was just getting started with life and the Chinese language on this little island.

    Wonderful picture. I actually misread the title “Li Bai’s Mom”, and you can imagine that that would really influence the way I interpreted the interaction between the verbal and visual pictures.

    I’m actually doing a class in Tang poetry right now, toward my MA in Chinese Literature at Tunghai. And you’ve been to New York and back! I guess that there is a lot to get caught up on.

  2. Boy, do I miss that delicious vegetarian food in Taiwan… mmmm
    Well, I guess it could be Li Bai’s mom – lol – maybe she got homesick too sometimes…
    I admire your perseverance! Tang poetry!! Hey – maybe you could send me a favourite poem and I’ll see if I can create an image… that could be fun.

    1. I’m a Wang Wei fan myself. He’s the “painter-poet”, and yet the poem that I like is rather stark.


      You, who came from my hometown,
      can surely tell me hometown news.
      The day you left, before the silk-curtained window,
      Had the plum opened a winter blossom?

      I’ve moved up into Dongbie, and right near my apartment there’s a great veggie buffet place. The boss’s mom grows yams just around the corner, and they often have the leaves there, and they are delicious. Also, a subway just opened near here, so it’s big sandwich day a few times a week now!

  3. lovely – and challenging in terms of creating an image… I like it.

    now you’re just making me jealous with your talk of veggie buffets!

  4. The painting really does capture Li Bai’s poem so beautifully! Until now when I thought of this poem I thought of looking down to a concrete floor like the one in my room in the Nu Bai Gong. But now I realize that there are other much prettier floors that one could be looking down at and still miss home. : )

    1. Thank you! Yes, I think one can be homesick anywhere – and sometimes, it’s that concrete floor that we’re missing!

  5. Hey Hilary!

    I love the images. They remind me a lot of the animation art work done in the movie ‘waking life’ by Richard Linklater. Are those done on the computer or are they actual pieces painted or drawn and then photographically transferred onto the computer?

  6. Thanks – I’ll have to look. I am actually working on the computer for these new images. I am using a program called Gimp which is similar to Photoshop but free. I have a tablet PC so I can draw right on the screen. It’s very cool. The only “real” painting loaded up so far is in my “about” page. That’s one I did a while ago from Taiwan.

  7. Ta peinture m’émeut beaucoup. Elle a de la présence et de l’âme.(soul)
    Tu m’as lu le poème, la dernière fois que nous nous sommes parlés et
    je crois que tu as rendu toute l’essence de ce que le poète voulait

  8. your painting surprised understand the poem so well that you set up LI BAI a comfortable and mordern bed room, but he still feels lonely and homesick. I like your painting very much.

    1. Yes, I wanted to give the feeling of loss and loneliness – which can be just as touching in a comfortable context as a bare one!

  9. Bonjour Hillary, Je suis une amie de Max. Ton dessin est impressionnant, Jai l’adore!

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