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Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;

in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.

Version 2
Beneath the blossoms with a pot of wine,
No friends at hand, so I poured alone;
I raised my cup to invite the moon,
Turned to my shadow, and we became three.
Now the moon had never learned about drinking,
And my shadow had merely followed my form,
But I quickly made friends with the moon and my shadow;
To find pleasure in life, make the most of the spring.

Whenever I sang, the moon swayed with me;
Whenever I danced, my shadow went wild.
Drinking, we shared our enjoyment together;
Drunk, then each went off on his own.
But forever agreed on dispassionate revels,
We promised to meet in the far Milky Way.

Short Poem Analysis

"Drinking Alone in the Moonlight" by Li Po (Li Bai) is a classic Chinese poem that reflects themes of solitude, companionship, and the joys of simple pleasures. Through its vivid imagery and contemplative tone, the poem offers insight into the poet's state of mind and the emotions evoked by the act of drinking alone.

The poem begins with the speaker setting the scene of drinking alone beneath the moonlight, emphasizing the solitary nature of the moment. This solitude is underscored by the image of the "round bright moon" and the "shadow of my lone form" on the floor.

Li Po's use of sensory imagery is particularly striking. He describes the wine as "clear," the night as "cool," and the moon as "bright," creating a vivid and inviting atmosphere for the reader.

The poem takes an unexpected turn as the speaker imagines his shadow as a companion and describes their interaction as a form of camaraderie. This imaginative twist suggests that even in solitude, one can find a sense of connection and companionship through the power of the human imagination.

The poem's tone is reflective and contemplative, and it conveys a sense of contentment and peace in the act of drinking alone. The imagery and the mood of the poem invite readers to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and the solace that can be found in moments of solitude.

"Drinking Alone in the Moonlight" is a classic example of Chinese poetry that captures the essence of a solitary moment of reflection. Li Po's use of vivid imagery and his ability to find companionship and contentment in solitude make this poem a timeless exploration of the human experience. It invites readers to appreciate the beauty of the moonlit night and the simple pleasures of life, even when enjoyed in the absence of company.

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