Sunday, March 6, 2011

静夜思 (jìng yè sī) – 李白 (lǐ bái) - Thoughts in a Still Night

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PHOTO: 静夜思 (jìng yè sī) – 李白 (lǐ bái) - Thoughts in a Still Night

床 前 明 月光 ,- The bright moonlight before my bed,
chuáng qián míng yuè guāng

疑 是 地上 霜 。- Is thought to be the frost fallen on the ground.
yí shì dì shàng shuāng

举 头 望 明 月 ,- I lift my head to gaze at the bright moon,
jǔ tóu wàng míng yuè

低头 思 故乡 。- And then bow down to think of my native land.
dī tóu sī gù xiāng

PHOTO: 静夜思图片(jìng yè sī tú piàn) - [设计图,JPG] Thoughts in a Still Night picture

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PHOTO: 静夜思 (jìng yè sī) – 李白 (lǐ bái) - Thoughts in a Still Night

Li Bai (701-762) was also named Tai Bai or Qing Lian Ju Shi. He is the most famous poet in China.

Li Bai's birthplace is uncertain, but one candidate is Suyab in Central Asia (near modern-day Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan). However his family had originally dwelled in what is now southeastern Gansu , and later moved to Jiangyou, near modern Chengdu in Sichuan province, when he was five years old. At the age of ten, his formal education started.

He liked reading very much. And he was influenced by Taoism very much, as well as Confucianism.

After his school time, he left home to start his traveling life. He visited many interests of history, and the traveling enriched his experiences very much.

When he was 42 years old, a friend recommended him to the emperor. He was greatly delighted at first and eager to serve the emperor like an ancient capable statesman to achieve his ideality. But the Emperor Xuanzong only had him as a palace poet to write trivial lyrics while the emperor and Yang Guifei, his favorite imperial concubine, were feasting themselves.

Unwilling to serve such a meaningless function, Li Bai left the capital in less than two years. Then Li Bai went on with his aimless traveling all over the country again.

Finally, Daizong named Li Bai the Registrar of the Left Commandant's office in 762. When the imperial edict arrived in Dangtu, Anhui, Li Bai was already dead. According to legend, he was drowned attempting to embrace the moon's reflection in a river. In reality, Li Bai committed suicide as evidenced by his farewell poem.

Li Bai is considered as the foremost romantic poet in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). His political ambition was spoiled, so he turned to drinking to drown his sorrows and writing, which was described as "A hundred poems per gallon liquor." His poetry is still very popular and recited by Chinese children today.

Here is one of his poems as an example:

PHOTO: 《静夜思》记述李白置身在秋夜明月下的井边上,举头遥望,顿生思乡之情。
《Thoughts in a Still Night》is a description of Li Bai under the autumn moon by the side of a well, lift his head and gaze into the distance, experience a sudden devastating homesickness.

Translated by:
Using nciku (, an online dictionary with English and Chinese language (with Pinyin) and Google Translate