The Drinking Song of the King of Qin
The King of Qin rode the tiger to eight Poles high:
His sword shone in the air and brightened the blue sky.
His driver struck the sun with a glass-breaking sound;
All were reduced to ashes on the battleground.
Stars were invited to drink wine poured from dragon’s head;
The golden pipa played at night would grieve the dead.
The rain treading on Dongting Lake would blow the lute;
The King ordered the moon to go back to its root.
Silver cloud on cloud made the crystal palace bright;
The gate-keeper announced it was still early night.
The phoenix in the tower sang her bewitching song;
Clear fragrance of ladies’ silken dress wafted long.
The dancers drank to his health of a thousand years.
From the candles on the fairy trees rose smoke light.
From the lutist’s drunken eyes streamed down copious tears.
The poet imagines how the King of Qin drank like an immortal.
The poem “The Drinking Song of the King of Qin” is one of the masterpieces of the Tang Dynasty poet Li He. The first four lines of the poem are about the King of Qin’s heroism, praising him for pacifying the war and making the world peaceful; the following fifth line describes the luxurious scene of him drinking wine and having fun all night long. Almost every line of the poem is unexpected, whether it is a realistic description or a virtual imagination, whether it is a metaphor, an exaggeration or a white description, whether it is the choice of imagery or the wording, all of which are different from those of ordinary poets, quite reflecting the strange and bizarre characteristics of Li He’s poetry and imagination.