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Exchanging Poems

“Your lonely boat’s is now a distant thing, that sails where blue skies go.” Li Bai to Meng.
“As apes shed tears along the shore, so do I.” Meng Haoran to Li.

Li Bai

Early spring, circa 730, good friends Meng Haoran Li Bai meet at the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan to say goodbye.

First: Li Bai to Meng

Li Bai sees Meng Haoran off in a hazy mist to a land of Blue Skies.

A Gift to Meng Haoran on Departing for Yangzhou

Old friend departing from the West,
Beneath the Yellow Crane Tower.
Sail on to Yangzhou!
In the morning mist and springtime flowers.

Your lonely boat is now a distant thing,
That sails where blue skies go.
And, I shall look upon the waves,
Unto the end they flow.

Li Bai to Meng Haoran

Second: Meng Haoran to Li Bai

Meng is not quite to Yangzhou, staying up river at Tonglu, listening to the apes cry.

Staying at Tonglu, on the Jiang River, to tour old Yangzhou

The dark mountains echo the cries of monkeys,
At night, the cold river quickly flows.
While on the shores, in the trees, the wind sings,
Above the moon shines on a lonely boat,
Jiande is not my home, and Yangzhou recalls our tales of old,
Two lines of tears cross my face,
I’ll send them along the river to the the west.

Meng Haoran to Li Bai

Original Chinese

NoteGuangling is another name for the more familiar place name, Yangzhou. It is an old city, a pretty city, a city of gardens and hidden gems, founded in the Three Kingdom Period (3rd Century). Poets including Meng Haoran, Li Bai, Du Fu, Du Mu, and Liu Changqing passed though.

  1. 送孟浩然之廣陵
    Sòng Mèng Hàorán zhī Guǎnglíng


    李白 [Li Bai, 701–762]

    2. 宿桐庐江寄广陵旧游
    Sù Tónglú Jiāng jì Guǎnglíng jiù yóu


    孟浩然 [Meng Haoran, ca. 690-740]

    Notes on Translation

    Although I have designated (for no real reason) November as Meng Haoran month, these two poems take place in spring. Li Bai uses Gùrén, 故人, Old Friend because they are longstanding friends and Meng is older.

    I will simply add that “Apes crying along the shore,” was used by Li Bai in another poem.

    There are good ships and wood ships,
    And ships that sail the seven seas,
    But the best ships are friendships,
    May they always be!

    An Irish Toast


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