A few years ago I have translated the above poem from classical Chinese into English. Mdm. Liu May Wong, translated my English into modern Chinese. Please take it as a literary game. The strange admission is I am not Chinese educated, and she is not well versed in English – a kind of “half baked” in our language proficiencies. However, for some readers, it may not be a bad idea to read her “modern” Chinese version, before you read the original, as long as the readers do not have the habit of making comparisons.
In March 2013, Li Bai’s hometown, Jiangu, Sichuan, held a poetry recital of this famous Tang (701 -762 AD) poet. BBC called him “China’s drunken superstar poet”. This post is mainly to arouse interest for some readers, whether Chinese or non Chinese.
WINE WILL BE SERVED
Have you not seen,
The downpour into the Yellow River, a heavenly scene,
Its torrent gushes into the ocean,
And the return stream not reckon.
(Have you not seen)
The weariness in your parents’ white lock
A clear reflection of aging in shock.
At the dawn of life, as black as silk,
shines at dusk, shows snowy lines.
When happy opportunities appear,
Fulfill them here and dear,
Do not let our golden cups emptied of wine
Under such bright moonshine.
The talent I am blissfully endowed
My skill will facilitate what I have avowed
A thousand teals of gold may be squandered,
Its value, in kinds and ways, will be recovered
Gastronomical delight of beef and lamb is served
A binge of three hundred cups will be observed.
To Master Cen,
To Scholar Dangiu,
Wine is now served
Do not be reserved
I shall sing to both soon
Attentively, your ears,
Attune palatial music, fine cuisine, is not grand
調絃富麗堂皇的音樂, 精美菜餚, 不是盛大,
Wish we are forever drunk and in dreamland
In ancient times, lonely sages are not remembered
Only wine drinkers have their names sculptured.
In the past, Prince Chen held a grand banquet in his palace
In pursuit of hedonistic indulgence par excellence,
At a cost of ten thousand silver pieces
For a mere dipperful of wine dashes
As your host, money is never in doubt
To procure more wine for our bout.
My spotted horse and fur worth a thousand
My son to trade and buy wine on errand
Together we shall drown away
The million miseries of bygone days.