The Selected Poems of Li Po

I don’t read a lot of poetry because I mostly don’t really get it, but occasionally something catches me. In this case, a quote in Civilization VI, when you receive the Great Writer Li Bai, an 8th century Chinese poet:

Flowers surround me, alone with my drink,
I pour for myself, no companion to join me.
I raise my glass and toast the full moon,
Who shall with my shadow make us three.

I liked it partly because Civ VI is narrated by Sean Bean and I could listen to him read anything, and partly I liked the simplicity, and partly that Li Bai mostly seems to write about wine. As a result I bought The Selected Poems of Li Po (the westernized name of Li Bai). They are beautiful. Simple and profound. And probably much deeper and more complex than I’m capable of appreciating.

As it happens, neither of the poems quoted in Civ VI were actually in this collection. This is from my favourite, On Hsieh T’iao’s Tower in Hsüan-Chou: A Farewell Dinner for Shu Yün:

 But slice water with a knife, and water still flows,
empty a winecup to end grief, and grief remains grief.

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