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:
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.