I gazed into my wine cup

(After Li Po)


I gazed into my wine cup
Till after darkness fell.

Out of that dark pool
The vines grew up
Twining me around
And the wine was in me
And I was the wine.

Then I dreamed I stood,
Lost in the wine’s dreaming,
And the moon was there
Beneath my feet, there
Where I walked, midstream.

Somewhere an owl hooted

But nobody was there
To wake me.


This is, again, inspired by one of Li Po‘s poems. I hesitate to claim it as a translation; perhaps, speaking loosely, an adaptation. The title of the original is variously translated into English as “Amusing Myself” or “I sat drinking” or “Wine“; so much for legitimate translation, I suppose.

At any rate, here, courtesy of chinese-poems.com, is (I am informed and believe) Li Po’s original:


… and a word-by-word transliteration:

Face wine not aware get dark
Fall flower fill my clothes
Drunk stand step stream moon
Bird far person also few

Image: new moon by Ed Schipul, published under a Creative Commons  Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license; The Moon’s Invention (by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, from his series 100 Aspects of the Moon (Tsuki hyakushi), published between 1885 and 1892; this work is out of copyright in the United States. And yes, I am aware that Li Po lived in China, Yoshitoshi in Japan. But come on.

5 thoughts on “I gazed into my wine cup

    • Hmm. Considered in the sober light of day, I may have gone a hoot too far… I will think this over, sleep on it, then possibly change the line without notice so that future readers will wonder what you were ever talking about! Thanks for your kind words and thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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