Thoughts on a Quiet Night

Li Bai (701-762)
Before my bed the bright moon shines its light,
Perhaps the frost now covers all the ground;
I lift my head to see the shining moon,
I bow my head to see my native town.
Jìng Yè Sī
Lǐ Bái
Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng
Yí shì dì shàng shuāng
Jǔ tóu wàng míng yuè
Dī tóu sī gù xiāng
Transliteration and Notes
Quiet Night Thoughts
Bed facing bright moon light
Suspect is earth top frost
Lift head look-at bright moon
Bow head think-of old country
     “Earth top” means “on the ground.” “Old country” means hometown or native place. This is a poem of nostalgia for Li Bai’s hometown while he’s far away and is often taught to Chinese elementary school students.
     Li Bai, also known as Li Po or Li Bo, is considered one of the greatest poets in Chinese history, often compared with Du Fu. His poems were noted for their passion and romanticism, in contrast with the more scholarly approach of many other classical poets. Li was likely born in Central Asia (modern Kyrgyzstan), where his family had business, though his family was originally from the modern Gansu Province. He grew up loving swordplay, never took the civil service examination, married four times, and spent a good deal of his life traveling.

Author of original: 
Li Bai