Li Bai Poem: Crows Flying Back to Their Nest – 李白《乌栖曲》

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乌栖曲[1]

李白

姑苏台[2]上乌栖时[3]

吴王宫里醉西施[4]

吴歌楚舞欢未毕,

青山欲衔半边日。

银箭金壶[5]漏水多,

起看秋月坠江波。

东方渐高[6]奈乐何!

注释:

[1] 乌栖曲:乐府《清商曲辞·西曲歌》旧题,西曲本是江汉一带民歌,与吴声歌曲相近。

[2] 姑苏台:故址在今江苏省苏州市,春秋时吴王夫差所建。

[3] 乌栖时:黄昏时。

[4] 西施:吴王夫差的宠妃。她本是越国的著名美女,越王勾践将她献给吴王,以销蚀吴王的意志。

[5] 银箭金壶:古代用壶和箭作计时的器具,用金属制成。

[6] 高:通“皓”(hào)。白色。

Crows Flying Back to Their Nest

Li Bai

Over Royal Terrace when crows flew back to their nest,

The king in Royal Palace feasted his mistress drunk.

The Southern maidens sang and danced without a rest

Till beak-like mountain peaks would peck the sun half sunk.

The golden clepsydra could not stop water’s flow,

Over the waves the autumn moon was hanging low.

Would not the king enjoy his fill in Eastern glow?

This is a satire on the King of Wu who held perpetual revelries with his favorite mistress in his Royal Palace in the 5th century BC.

《乌栖曲》是唐代诗人李白创作的一首乐府诗。此诗通过日暮乌栖、落日衔山、秋月坠江等富于象征色彩的物象,暗示荒淫的君王不可避免的乐极生悲的下场。
全诗在形式上作了大胆的创新,借旧题的歌咏艳情转为讽刺宫廷淫靡生活,纯用客观叙写,不入一句贬辞,但讽刺却很尖锐、冷峻、深刻。

“Crows Flying Back to Their Nest” is a poem written by the poet Li Bai in the Tang Dynasty. The poem suggests the inevitable end of the lascivious king’s happiness and sorrow through symbolic objects such as the sunset and the moon falling into the river.
The poem is a bold innovation in form, using the old theme of singing about lustful love to satirize the lascivious life of the court.

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