Li Bai Poem

To Tung Tsao-Chiu

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Tung Tsao-chiu of Lo-yang, friend,
I remember the good old time.
You built me a wine house to the south of the Tienchin Bridge
Songs were bought with yellow gold, and laughter with white jewels.
Months went by in one long lasting rapture; we scorned kings and princes.

Wise and valiant men from all shores were there as your guests.
Among them I was your special friend, you had my heart’s devotion.
For you I would not have declined to uproot mountains and overturn the sea.
To you I bared my heart and soul without hesitation.

I journeyed to Hwai-nan to dwell in the laurel grove;
You remained in the north of Lo, with many sad dreams.
The separation was more than we could bear,
So we met again and went together.

We went together a long way to Hsien-cheng
Through the thirty-six turns of the river, winding round and round,
And amid the voices of the pine wind over the innumerable cliffs,
Which having ceased—lo!
We burst into a valley—into the light of a thousand flowers.

There on the level ground with their horses of golden reins and silver saddles
Stood the governor of Han-tung and his men, who had
come to meet us.
The Taoist initiates of Tzu-yang welcomed us, too, blowing on their jeweled bamboo pipes.
They took us on the Tower of Mist-Feasting,—what a music there stirred!
Such celestial notes! It seemed all the sacred birds of heaven sang together.
With those pipes playing, our long sleeves began to flap lightly.
At last the governor of Han-chung, drunken, rose and danced.
It was he, who covered me with his brocade robe;
And I, drunk too, chose his lap for pillow and went to sleep.
During the feast our spirits soared high over the ninth heaven,
But ere the morning we were scattered like stars and rain,
Scattered hither and thither, the Pass of Chu separating us wide,
As I sought my old nest in the mountains,
And you returned to your home across the Bridge of Wei.

Your honorable father brave as leopard and tiger
Became the governor of Ping-chow then.
And stopt the barbarian invasion.
In May you called me and I crossed the mountain of Tai-hsing.
My cart wheels were broken on the steep passes, winding like sheep guts; but that did not matter.

I traveled on and came to Pe-liang and stayed for months.
What hospitality! What squandering of money!
Red jade cups and rare dainty food on tables inlaid with green jems!
You made me so rapturously drunk that I had no thought of returning.

Oft we went out to the western edge of the city,
To the Temple of Chin, where the stream was clear as emerald;
Where on a skiff afloat we played with water and made music on pipes and drums;
Where the tiny waves looked like dragon-scales-and how green were the reed in the shallows!
Pleasure-inspired, we took singing girls and gaily sailed the stream up and down.
How beautiful are their vermilioned faces, when half- drunken, they turn to the setting sun,
While the willow flakes are flying about them like snow,
And their green eyebrows are mirrored in the clear water one hundred feet deep!

And comelier still are the green eyebrows when the new moon shines.
The beautiful girls sing anew and dance in robes of thin silk.
Their songs, lifted by the zephyr, pass away in the sky,
But the sweet notes seem to linger in the air, hovering about the wandering clouds.

The delight of those days cannot be had again.
I went west and offered my Ode of the Long Willows,
But to my skyey ambition the imperial gates were closed.
I came back to the East Mountain, white-headed.

I met you once more at the south end of the Bridge of Wei;
But once more we parted company north of Tsan-tai.
You ask me the measure of my sorrow—
Pray, watch the fast falling flowers at the going of spring!
I would speak, but speech could not utter all,
Nor is there an end to my heart’s grief.
I call my boy and bid him kneel down and seal this letter,
And I send it to you a thousand miles, remembering.

Taking Leave of a Friend
To Meng Hao-Jan


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