Dreaming of Li Bai
We stifle sobs on parting with the dead;
On parting with the living, tears are shed.
You’re exiled to miasmic Southern shore.
How can you not send us news any more?
Last night you came into my dream anew;
This shows how long I am thinking of you.
Now you are caught in net and bound with strings.
How can you free yourself with bound-up wings?
I fear it was not your soul I did dream.
Could it go such long way o’er mount and stream?
When it came, green would maple forests loom;
When it went, dark mountains were left in gloom.
The setting moon on rafters sheds its light;
I seem to see your beaming face as bright.
O monstrous billows where water is deep,
Don’t wake up monsters and dragons asleep!
Dreaming of Li Bai
Wandering clouds can be seen all the day,
But you, a wanderer, are far away.
For three successive nights I dreamed of you,
This shows our friendship old and ever new.
Leaving in haste, you said you had to go,
It was not easy to come, as we know.
There might be perils on the lake or river,
A single man in a small boat should shiver.
On leaving me, you scratched your white hair,
Regretting your ideals vanish in air.
So many courtiers in the capital,
Why should you not find your place, not at all?
Who says there is justice under the sky?
How could you have been exiled so far? Why?
What is the use of fame which lasts so long
As people have sung the funeral song?
“Dreaming of Li Bai” is a set of dream poems written by Du Fu, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The poems were written after Du Fu heard about Li Bai’s exile to the night lang, and his thoughts became dreams. The poems are written in the order of before, during and after the dream. The first poem is about the psychological state of mind when he first dreamed of Li Bai, expressing his concern for the fate of his old friend; the second poem is about the image of Li Bai seen in the dream, expressing his sympathy for his old friend’s tragic suffering. The whole poem reflects the friendship between Li and Du, who are separated from each other in form and in spirit, and who have mutual advice and encouragement. The upper and lower parts of the poem are divided but cooperative, related but not identical, with a complete structure and sincere emotions.