Li He Poem: Drinking Song – 李贺《将进酒》









[1] 鼍(tuó)鼓:鼍,即扬子鳄,产于长江中下游,亦称鼍龙,俗称猪婆龙。鼍鼓即鼍皮制成的鼓。

[2] 刘伶:魏晋时期的文坛领袖、“竹林七贤”之一。他酷好饮酒,自诩为“天生刘伶,以酒为名”。其每每外出饮酒,必带一小童背铁锹相随,告之曰:“死便埋我。”旷世骇俗,无出其右。

Drinking Song

Li He

A glazed cup full of amber wine,

The strong drink drips like red pearls fine.

The dragon boiled and phoenix roasted would weep;

The fragrant breeze blows into broidered curtains deep.

The dragon flute is played;

Beaten the drums covered with alligator’s skin.

The songstress sings with teeth as bright as jade,

And dancers dance with waist as slender as hairpin.

The prime of your life like the sun on the decline,

Peach blossoms fall pell-mell like rain of petals pink.

So I advise you to get drunk with wine.

When buried in the grave, what could you take to drink?

This imaginative song is full of sensual beauty. The reader may see amber wine and red pearls, hear the drink drip and the phoenix weep, smell the fragrant breeze and touch the dancer’s slender waist and taste boiled dragon and roasted phoenix.


The poem “General Wine” is a musical poem written by Li He in the Tang Dynasty. The first four lines of the poem describe the splendor and richness of the banquet; the fifth and sixth lines describe the dynamic singing and dancing; the seventh and eighth lines specify the time of the banquet; and finally, the poem ends with a rhetorical quote from the ancients. The poem begins with a description of wine, food, song and dance, which seems to be the most enjoyable part of life, but ends with a sudden turn, unexpectedly introducing the idea of death and the desolation of the grave. In the great contrast, the poet emphasizes the joy of life and the sorrow of death, and in the contrast between life and death, the poet intends to express the sorrow of life forged by a short and bitter life.

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