Li Bai Poem

The River Song

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This boat is of shato-wood, and its gunwales are
          cut magnolia,
Musicians with jewelled flutes and with pipes of gold
Fill full the sides in rows, and our wine
Is rich for a thousand cups.
We carry singing girls, drift with the drifting water,
Yet Sennin needs
A yellow stork for a charger, and all our seamen
Would follow the white gulls or ride them.
Kutsu’s prose song
Hangs with the sun and moon.

King So’s terraced palace
                                      is now but barren hill,
But I draw pen on this barge
Causing the five peaks to tremble,
And I have joy in these words
                                      like the joy of blue islands.
(If glory could last forever
Then the waters of Han would flow northward.)

And I have moped in the Emperor’s garden, await-
        ing an order-to-write !
I looked at the dragon-pond, with its willow-
        coloured water
Just reflecting the sky’s tinge,
And heard the five-score nightingales aimlessly singing.

The eastern wind brings the green colour into the
          island grasses at Yei-shu,
The purple house and the crimson are full of Spring
South of the pond the willow-tips are half-blue and
Their cords tangle in mist, against the brocade-like
Vine-strings a hundred feet long hang down from
          carved railings,
And high over the willows, the fine birds sing to
          each other, and listen,
Crying—‘Kwan, Kuan,’ for the early wind, and the
          feel of it.
The wind bundles itself into a bluish cloud and
          wanders off.
Over a thousand gates, over a thousand doors are
          the sounds of spring singing,

And the Emperor is at Ko.
Five clouds hang aloft, bright on the purple sky,
The imperial guards come forth from the golden
          house with their armour a-gleaming.
The Emperor in his jewelled car goes out to inspect
          his flowers,
He goes out to Hori, to look at the wing-flapping
He returns by way of Sei rock, to hear the new
For the gardens at Jo-run are full of new nighting-
Their sound is mixed in this flute,
Their voice is in the twelve pipes here.

The River-Captain’s Wife – A Letter
The Cold Clear Spring at Nanyang


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