Li Bai(李白) (701 – 762)

Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty is one of China’s most famous and prolific poets. Though he is not a woman, I am analyzing his classic poem “Quiet Night Thoughts” as part of my Mandarin Midyear Exam, and so I felt that to leave such a classic Chinese writer off this blog simply because of his gender would be an inexcusable oversight.

 

Here is Li Bai’s best-known poem:

床前明月光

疑是地上霜

举头望明月

低头思故乡

 
And my translation:

From my bed, I can see the bright moon;

I wonder if its light on my floor is frost.

I raise my eyes to the moon,

lower my head, and think of home.

 

Please note: this poem is often recited for the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节). In Chinese, 月, the word for moon, is associated with the word for round: 圆, which in turn represents the concept of family reunion (团圆), hence the poet’s homesick reaction to the sight of a full moon on a cold, lonely night.

 

Sources:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Li-Bai

http://chinesepoemsinenglish.blogspot.com/2008/12/li-bai-night-thoughts.html

Image from < https://thefridayinfluence.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/li-po-large-2.gif >

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