Li Bai Poem: The Moon over the Mountain Pass – 李白《关山月》
















[1] 关山月:乐府《鼓角横吹》十五曲之一。《乐府古题要解》:“ 《关山月》,伤离别也。”唐玄宗开元后期和天宝年间,唐王朝不断发动与周边少数民族的战争。李白借此乐府旧题,写远离家乡的戍边将士与家中妻室的相互思念之情。

[2] 天山:祁连山,位于甘肃省西北部。匈奴语呼天为“祁连”,故祁连山亦称“天山”。

[3] 玉门关:为古时通往西域的要道,故址在今甘肃省敦煌市西北。此处泛指西北边地。

[4] “汉下”句:下,出兵。白登,山名,在今山西省大同市东北。据《史记·匈奴列传》记载,汉高祖刘邦曾在白登山附近与匈奴作战,并被围困七日。

[5] “胡窥”句:窥,窥伺、侵扰。青海湾,即青海湖,在今青海省东北部,唐玄宗开元年间,唐军曾多次在此与吐蕃交战。

[6] 戌客:指戍边将士。

[7] 高楼:戍边将士妻子的居所,代指戍客的妻子。

The Moon over the Mountain Pass

Li Bai

From Heaven’s Peak the moon rises bright

Over a boundless sea of cloud.

Winds blow for miles with main and might

Past the Jade Gate which stands so proud.

Our warriors march down the frontier,

While Tartars peer across Blue Bays.

From the battlefield outstretched here,

None have come back since olden days.

Guards watch the scene of borderland,

Thinking of home with wistful eyes.

Tonight upstairs their wives would stand,

Looking afar with longing sighs.

Seeing the moon, warriors on the frontier and their wives at home long for each other.


“The Moon over the Mountain Pass” is a poem written by Li Bai, a great poet of the Tang Dynasty, on the old theme of music. The poem is about the mutual longing between the soldiers and their wives and families who are far away from their hometowns, and profoundly reflects the suffering of the general public brought by war. The poem is divided into three layers: the first four lines are about a vast border scene with three elements: the pass, the mountain and the moon, thus showing the conqueror’s nostalgia for his hometown; the middle four lines are about the scene of war and the tragic and cruel battlefield; the last four lines are about the conqueror looking at the border and missing his hometown, and then thinking about his wife’s sighing in the high building on the moonlit night. This poem is like a long scroll of a border picture composed of three parts: the bright moon on the mountain, the sands, and the longing for the return of the garrison guest, with the grievances running through the whole poem.

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