A Talk with Liu

Bai Juyi (772 – 846)
The fresh rice wine is fragrant, bubbling green,
A fire beneath my small red pot of clay.
Now night has come, the sky is filled with snow—
So, would you have a cup with me and stay?
問劉十九Wèn Liú Shí Jiǔ
白居易Bái Jūyì
綠蟻新醅酒Lǜ yǐ xīn pēi jiǔ
紅泥小火爐Hóng ní xiǎo huǒ lú
晚來天欲雪Wǎn lái tiān yù xuě
能飲一杯無Néng yǐn yī bēi wú
Transliteration and Notes
Ask Liu Ten Nine
Green ants fresh brewed wine
Red clay small fire stove
Night comes sky desires snow
Can drink a cup no?
“Ten Nine” = nineteen. The title means “asking Liu nineteen questions.” “Green ants” = the rice wine is freshly brewed, so there is still a layer of little green bubbles on top. “Desires snow” = it looks like it will snow. “Can drink” = “can you stay and drink with me?”
Bai Juyi wrote this poem in his later years when he was living in seclusion. He was visited by his friend, Liu Shijiu, a scholar in Songyang. Because the wine was fresh and unfiltered, it had small bubbles, slightly green in color, small as an ant. A snowstorm is coming, and Bai is enjoying the conversation and wants his friend to stay, so he invites him for a cup.

Author of original: 
Bai Juyi