Li Bai Poem: Life and Death – 李白《拟古十二首(其九)》

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Li Bai was a physically-impressive man of supreme intelligence, passion and sheer love of life, whose poems were known in China to high and low alike, and whose capacity for drinking was legendary.

 

拟古十二首(其九)

李白

生者为过客,死者为归人。

天地一逆旅[1],同悲万古尘。

月兔空捣药,扶桑[2]已成薪。

白骨寂无言,青松岂知春。

前后更叹息,浮荣何足珍?

注释:

[1] 逆旅:旅舍。逆,迎。古人以生为寄,以死为归,如《尸子》:“老菜子曰:人生于天地之间,寄也;寄者固归也。”又如《古诗》:“人生天地间,忽如远行客。”此用其意。

[2] 扶桑:东方的一棵神树,此树位于东方大海一座山的温泉山谷中,太阳由此升腾而起。

Life and Death (Ⅸ)

Li Bai

The living are but passers-by,

And those are going home who die.

The sky and earth are hotels just

For all to grieve over age-old dust.

The Moon Goddess lives long in vain;

The sacred tree’s cut down with pain.

The bleached bones can nor speak nor sing.

Could green pines feel the warmth of spring?

Ancestors and posterity,

Don’t prize but sigh for vanity!

This is a philosophical poem in which the poet equalizes life and death, imagines the sacred tree cut down, from which rose the sun, and sighs for the vanity of man.

 

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