[SHC World Poetry Month] “将进酒 (Bring in the Wine)” by 李白 Li Bai

by Wenqi Zhu

Li Bai (701–762). Photo credits: SupChina

Li Bai (701–762) is regarded as one of the greatest poets during the Tang Dynasty, which is often considered China’s “Golden Age of Poetry”. “Bring in the Wine” is one of his most famous works and filled with passionate spirits. With heartfelt love for drinking, Li Bai saw alcohol as a blessing, not a sin. This poem describes his manic state of mind after drinking wine, during which he forgot his existence, disgrace, and frustration temporarily.

“Bring in the Wine” by Li Bai. Recited by: Wenqi Zhu

“将进酒 (Bring in the Wine)”

by 李白 Li Bai (China)

(English translation)

Do you not see

The waters of the Yellow River come pouring from the sky,

Rushing towards the sea and never coming back?

Do you not see

Our elders’ grievance over grey hair when they a mirror look into,

That was once ebony, now white as snow in their twilight years?

We should fully enjoy ourselves when we feel pleased,

Let not golden chalices mirror the moon without spirits.

There has to be a way and a purpose for a being like me,

The riches I’ve spent shall one day be reacquired.

Butcher and cook lamb and beef for a happy feast,

Whenever there is an opportunity, have three hundred sips of liquor at least.

Master Cen, Danqiu, my friend,

Please drink up, let not your chalice lay neglected.

Let me sing you a song,

Please lend an ear and listen as I sing:

A grand banquet with an orchestra is not as precious as it seems,

How I wish for intoxication and how I wish from which I never wake.

Throughout time sages and men of virtue have only the company of solitude,

Only those who drink leave behind a reputation next to their name.

Duke Chen of Wei gave a banquet at the Temple of Joy and Peace,

Providing pecks of wine at ten thousand pence each for all to indulge freely.

Being a host why would I excuse myself claiming lack of means?

I’d readily buy however much required to drink to our hearts’ content.

A steed with vivid shades of hair, a fur coat worthy of a thousand gold pieces,

In exchange for more great wine. I’ll have my son pawn these,

To share with you in smoothing away our millennia of sorrow, gloom and grief.

Recited by: Wenqi Zhu (MPhil 3, Faculty of Arts)

Produced by: Editorial Team of the SHC Media Club, Nicolo Ludovice, Sean Suntoso, Aurell Sulaiman, Chong Sze Teng

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