Klingsor’s Last Summer

A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.

-excerpt from “Drinking Alone By Moonlight,” Li Bai (Li Po), from More Translations from the Chinese, Arthur Waley

He would also deliberately drown his pain and his sometimes almost unbearable melancholy in wine. Li Po, that author of the profoundest drinking songs, was his favorite, and in his cups he often called himself Li Po and one of his friends Tu Fu.

-“Klingsor’s Last Summer,” Hermann Hesse

Li Bai, also known as Li Po, was a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty (8th century CE), as was his friend Du Fu. He was known to like his wine.


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