the cloudy river of the sky…

Li Bai drinking alone by moonlight

Li Bai drinking alone by moonlight

花間一壺酒。 A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
獨酌無相親。 I drink alone, for no friend is near.
舉杯邀明月。 Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
對影成三人。 For her, with my shadow, will make three people.
月既不解飲。 The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
影徒隨我身。 Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
暫伴月將影。 Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
行樂須及春。 I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
我歌月徘徊。 To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
我舞影零亂。 In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
醒時同交歡。 While we were sober, three shared the fun;
醉後各分散。 Now we are drunk, each goes their way.
永結無情遊。 May we long share our eternal friendship,
相期邈雲漢。 And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.

poem Li Bai, translation Arthur Waley

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

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5 Responses to “the cloudy river of the sky…”

  1. Lovely!

  2. The poem is sweet like a dream, pure and perfect, delicate and enchanting yet exquisite in its wine quality that belongs to the classical age. I’ve reposted the full poem and the image on http://www.mirroroftomorrow.org/ for Saturday 3 July 2010.

  3. Grant Says:

    I especially like how LiBai looks as though he himself is a cloudy reflection on the surface of the water.

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