A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.


In the third month the town of Hsien-yang
Is thick-spread with a carpet of fallen flowers.
Who in Spring can bear to grieve alone?
Who, sober, look on sights like these?
Riches and Poverty, long or short life,
By the Maker of Things are portioned and disposed;
But a cup of wine levels life and death
And a thousand things obstinately hard to prove.
When I am drunk, I lose Heaven and Earth,
Motionless, I cleave to my lonely bed.
At last I forget that I exist at all,
And at that moment my joy is great indeed.


If high heaven had no love for wine,
There would not be a Wine Star in the sky.
If Earth herself had no love for wine,
There would not be a city called Wine Springs.
Since Heaven and Earth both love wine,
I can love wine, without shame before God.
Clear wine was once called a Saint,
Thick wine was once called a Sage.
Of Saint and Sage I have long quaffed deep,
What need for me to study spirits and hsien?
At the third cup I penetrate the Great Way;
A full gallon. Nature and I are one....
But the things I feel when wine possesses my soul
I will never tell to those who are not drunk.

Li Po
translation Arthur Waley (1919)

This is a freer translation, done with the help of a damn good dictionary, and consulting about 35 other translations, all of which are good, but none of which catches the combination of freedom and intricacy which this poem has in the original...(Not that I caught it myself, but a guy's got to try...)

I see flowers on the door and I have a jug of wine

But I have no friends to share this joy of mine.

I lift my glass to invite the moon's shine

And if you add my shadow – well, that’s three.

Now the moon, my brothers, doesn’t like good wine

And my shadow just follows me – but hell, that’s fine...

The moon is my friend and my shadow's the thing

that the moon and I need to welcome the spring

The moonlight dances a jig when I sing

When I dance like a drunkard my shadow takes win

Your poet, when sober, had us three all in tie

But when I got drunk my shadow and moon said goodbye

Alone or together my shadow, me and the ray

Dance to the end of the milky way

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