Li Bai: Thought on a Quiet Night (From Classical Chinese)

Thought on a Quiet Night
By Li Bai
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite it in Modern Mandarin pronunciation

Before my bed tonight the moon shone down
I took it instead for frost upon the ground
I lift my head  watching the mountain moon
I lower my head missing my northern home

The Original:
(Medieval Chinese transcribed using David Branner's system)

Han Characters 

靜夜思  
李白  

牀前明月光, 
疑是地上霜。 
舉頭望山月, 
低頭思故鄉。  
Medieval Chinese 

dzéing3b3 si3d
3d beik2a

dzrang3 dzan4 meing3a ngwat3a kwang1
ngi3d dzyí3b drì3c dzyàng3 srang3
kúo3b dou1 màng3 sran2b ngwat3a
tei4 dou1 si3d kùo1 hang3
Modern Chinese 

Jìng yè sī  
Lǐ bái  

Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng,  
Yí shì dì shàng shuāng.  
Jǔ tóu wàng shān yuè,  
Dī tóu sī gù xiāng.  

3 comments:

  1. it's 举头望明月 not 舉頭望山月

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is the case in the well-known and oft-quoted version of the poem. However most pre-modern anthologies of Li Bai (as well as the 四庫全書) record 山月. As for "举头" I fail to see why I should replace my traditional characters with simplified ones.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very interesting!If you guys could read Chinese,then read on! Your discussion on 床 or 牀, here are some clues:

    古诗十九首

    古诗十九首:组诗名。汉无名氏作(其中有八首《玉台新咏》题为汉枚乘作,后
    人多疑其不确)。非一时一人所为,一般认为大都出于东汉末年。南朝梁萧统合为一
    组,收入《文选》,题为《古诗十九首》。内容多写夫妇朋友间的离愁别绪和士人的
    彷徨失意,有些作品表现出追求富贵和及时行乐的思想。语言朴素自然,描写生动真
    切,在五言诗的发展上有重要地位。(《辞海》1989年版)


    之二

    青青河畔草,郁郁园中柳。
    盈盈楼上女,皎皎当窗牖。
    娥娥红粉妆,纤纤出素手。
    昔为娼家女,今为荡子夫。
    荡子行不归,空床难独守。






    之十九

    明月何皎皎,照我罗床纬。
    忧愁不能寐,揽衣起徘徊。
    客行虽云乐,不如早旋归。
    出户独彷徨,愁思当告谁!
    引领还入房,泪下沾裳衣。

    ReplyDelete

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