The Chuang Tzu

Selected Poems of Li Pai

Alone and Drinking Under the Moon

Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.

* * * * *

Autumn River Song

The moon shimmers in green water.
White herons fly through the moonlight.

The young man hears a girl gathering water-chestnuts:
into the night, singing, they paddle home together.

* * * * *

Clearing at Dawn

The fields are chill, the sparse rain has stopped;
The colours of Spring teem on every side.
With leaping fish the blue pond is full;
With singing thrushes the green boughs droop.
The flowers of the field have dabbled their powdered cheeks;
The mountain grasses are bent level at the waist.
By the bamboo stream the last fragment of cloud
Blown by the wind slowly scatters away.

* * * * *

Visiting a Taoist on Taitien Mountain

Amongst bubbling streams
a dog barks; peach blossom
is heavy with dew; here
and there a deer can
be seen in forest glades!
No sound of the mid-day
bell enters this fastness
where blue mist rises
from bamboo groves;
down from a high peak
hangs a waterfall;
none knows where he has gone, so sadly I rest,
with my back leaning
against a pine.

From Li Pai: 200 Selected Poems, Translated by Rewi Alley

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