Li Bai Poem: Farewell to Uncle Yun, Imperial Librarian, at Xie Tiao’s Pavilion in Xuancheng – 李白《宣州谢朓楼饯别校书叔云》


















[1] 谢眺楼:南齐诗人谢眺做宣城太守时建,又称谢公楼、北楼,唐末改名叠嶂楼。

[2] 校书叔云:李云曾为秘书省校书郎,唐人同姓者常相互攀连亲戚,李云当较李白长一辈,但不一定是近亲。

[3] 蓬莱:汉时称中央政府的著述藏书处东观为道家蓬莱山,唐人用以代指秘书省。

[4] 建安骨:汉献帝建安时代的诗文慷慨多气,史称建安风骨。

[5] 小谢:谢脁,与其先辈谢灵运分别称大、小谢。

[6] 散发:古人平时都是用簪子束发,并戴上帽子。散发则是不束发、不戴帽,指避世隐居。《后汉书·袁闳传》:“常(锢)事将作,闳遂散发绝世。”

[7] 扁舟:小船。越亡吴后,范蠡“乘扁舟浮于江湖”,后世就以弄扁舟喻避世隐遁。

Farewell to Uncle Yun, Imperial Librarian, at Xie Tiao’s Pavilion in Xuancheng

Li Bai

What left me yesterday

Can be retained no more;

What troubles me today

Is the times for which I feel sore.

In autumn wind for miles and miles the wild geese fly.

Let’s drink in face of this in the pavilion high!

Your writing’s forcible like ancient poets while

Mine is in Junior Xie’s clear and spirited style.

Both of us have an ideal high;

We would reach the moon in the sky.

Cut running water with a sword, it will faster flow;

Drink wine to drown your sorrow, it will heavier grow.

If we despair of all human affairs,

Let us roam in a boat with loosened hairs!

The poet complains to his uncle they could not fulfill their ideal in times of trouble.


The poem “Farewell to Uncle Yun, Imperial Librarian, at Xie Tiao’s Pavilion in Xuancheng” is a farewell poem composed by the Tang poet Li Bai when he met his uncle Li Yun at Xuancheng (now in Anhui) and climbed Xie Xuelou together. The poem is not a straightforward farewell poem, but rather an expression of the poet’s own fierce anger at his lack of talent, imbued with a generous and heroic sentiment, expressing his strong dissatisfaction with the dark society and his persistent pursuit of a brighter world. The poem is not gloomy and depressing, although it is very much about anguish and misery. The poem has a total of ninety-two words, the language is clear and simple, the tone is exciting and high, like a song, the strong thoughts and emotions rise and fall, three twists and turns, like a rushing river, changing rapidly, waves rise and fall, and the artistic structure of moving and falling, jumping and developing is perfectly combined, the rhythm is deep and long, intermittent and unbroken, reaching a realm of harmony and unity between boldness and nature. The Ming people commented that this poem is “like a horse moving in the sky and a dragon coming out of the sea”.

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