将进酒 A Toast
李白 Li Bai
jūn bú jiàn huáng hé zhī shuǐ tiān shàng lái ，bēn liú dào hǎi bú fù huí 。
Haven’t you seen the Yellow River, which is pouring down from th’ skies
And surging to the vast sea, never never to return?
jūn bú jiàn gāo táng míng jìng bēi bái fà ，zhāo rú qīng sī mù chéng xuě 。
Haven’t you seen mansion dwellers in th’ mirror, who with misty eyes
Griever o’er their transient hair, which in a day did white turn?
rén shēng dé yì xū jìn huān ，mò shǐ jīn zūn kōng duì yuè 。
Thus it follows that people should drink to their hearts’ content
When poss’ble, and ne’er leave their cups empty under the moon
tiān shēng wǒ cái bì yǒu yòng ，qiān jīn sàn jìn huán fù lái 。
‘Tis natural gifts that’ll prove of real worth; for th’ money spent
One may be reimburs’d with forthcoming wealth very soon.
pēng yáng zǎi niú qiě wéi lè ，huì xū yī yǐn sān bǎi bēi 。
Cattles having been kill’d, ready being the meat,
To three hundred cupfuls of wine let’s ourselves treat!
cén fū zǐ ，dān qiū shēng ，jiāng jìn jiǔ ，bēi mò tíng 。
Miste Cen, and you, Mister Yuan – both friends of mine,
Would you please have your cups fill’d and refill’d with wine!
yǔ jūn gē yī qǔ ，qǐng jūn wéi wǒ qīng ěr tīng 。
In th’ meantime be all ears to me:
I’ll sing you a song in high glee.
zhōng gǔ zhuàn yù bú zú guì ，dàn yuàn cháng zuì bú fù xǐng 。
Of luxuries and delicacies one ought to make light,
‘Tis devoutly to be wish’d to remain drunk day and night.
gǔ lái shèng xián jiē jì mò ，wéi yǒu yǐn zhě liú qí míng 。
From of old obscure have been distinguish’d saints and sages,
Whereas great drinkers’ names have surviv’d through all the ages.
chén wáng xī shí yàn píng lè ，dòu jiǔ shí qiān zī huān xuè 。
At the Peace Palace Prince Chensi had given many a high feast,
That wine was sold at ten thousand a measure he car’d not the least!
zhǔ rén hé wéi yán shǎo qián ，jìng xū gū qǔ duì jūn zhuó 。
Why do you trouble ‘bout the matter of money, my host?
Just exhaust the vendor’s and contine to drink a toast.
wǔ huā mǎ ，qiān jīn qiú ，hū ér jiāng chū huàn měi jiǔ ，yǔ ěr tóng xiāo wàn gǔ chóu 。
Isn’t there in the stable still the dapple steed?
And the fur coat is worth ten thousand coins indeed.
Ask your little ones to have them all sold
For good wine, with which we’ll drown cares age-old!
The poet – Li Bai(701-762) was born in Suiye of Anxi Prefecture, which was in the now Kazakhstan (His ancestral home was in Chengji of Longxi). At the age of five he went with his father to Mianzhou ( the now Mianyang of Sichuan), where he received his education. When twenty-five he left the place to make extensive travels. Early in the Reign of Tianbao he went to Chang’an and was bestowed upon the title of Hanlin ( an honor for renowned scholars) on the recommendation of Wu Jun, a Daoist. What with his unrestrained personality and what with his opposition to corrupt politics, he incurred repeated attacks from powerful bureaucrats and was finally “allowed to return with gold in reward”, i. e. compelled to leave the capital.
when the rebellion under An Lushan and Shi Siming broke out, he served as aide-de-camp to Prince of Yong (Li Lin), only to be involved in the conflict among the royaty and sentenced to a banishment to Yelang. had been physically and psychologically wrecked. He began to lead a wandering life. He visited Li Yangbin ( magistrate of Dantu county) at his residence and died there at the age of sixty-two.
Li Bai, generally revered as “a banished celestial being” and “the Immortal Muse”, is one of the greatest poet. He had made an unrivaled contribution to bringing romanticism to its zenith of prosperity. His poetry, more than one thousand pieces in all, is marked by masculine grandeur, natural grace, unconstrained boldness, fantastic vision and singular conception. Du Fu sings the praises of Li in some ten peoms. The well known essayist Han Yu and the renowned critic Yan Yu highly appraise Li’s attainments. People world-wide cherish the memory of Li Bai not only for his wonderful contribution to the sum of cultural heritage, but also for his lofty personality, as was incarnated in his ardent love for his people and country, in his tireless pursuit of freedom and justice, and in his daring spirit to revolt against the vicious and powerful.
The present peom, which derives its title from a Music-Institute song, belongs in “Classical Verse”, i.e. verse without strict rules governing the tonal pattern, rhyme scheme and number of syllables in a line. It was composed around AD 752, eight years after the poet was squeezed out of the political and cultural centre Chang’an.
This poem expresses the poet’s indignation at the stern reality, in which vile characters hold sway while the noble-minded and talented are reduced to obscurity. On the one hand, it manifests the poet’s sunny outlook on life, which grows out of self-confidence, aspirations and love for the people and nature; on the other hand, it reveals the poet’s pessimism, which stems out from setbacks, suppression and, of course, from the limitation of his times. The issue as to how far the poet is carried away by pessimism has remained controversial. Some allege that the poet has reached the point of decadence. Others argue that heroic spirit and optimism are the mainstream, that such proposals to toast as “people should drink to their hearts content/ When poss’ble and ne’er leave their cups empty under the moon” should not be regarded as a demonstration of the poet’s ideas, and that some lines are based on the same thought as “How can I bend my pride head and stoop to serving the powerful vile/At the sacrifice of a dignified smile?”(quoted from another poem by the poet), which only shows the poet’s comtempt for the powerful flew, etc., etc.
This poem is marked by its ingenious use of rhetorical devices ( metaphor, hyperbole, allusion, etc.), natural flow of ideas and unconstrained style. As one of Li’s masterpieces, its artistic value is generally recognized.