Shadow

Li Bo

Li Bo/ Li Po/ Li Bai 
“Drinking Alone under the Moon,” by Li Bo

                       Translation by Paul Rouzer  

Among the flowers, a single jug of wine;
I drink alone. No one close to me.
I raise my cup, invite the bright moon;
facing my shadow, together we make three.
The moon doesn’t know how to drink;
and my shadow can only follow my body.
But for a time I make moon and shadow my companions;
taking one’s pleasure must last until spring.
I sing — the moon wavers back and forth.
I dance — my shadow flickers and scatters.
When I’m sober we take pleasure together.
When I’m drunk, we each go our own ways.
I make an oath to journey forever free of feelings,
making an appointment with them to meet in the Milky Way afar.


Li Bo overwhelms one with the powerful yet simple use of imagery in this particular poem. You’ll see him walking alone, with a pot of wine, the moon shining above and his shadow dancing along. Loneliness is what drives him, hope is what is hidden. Maybe he laments for the dead past or he cries to see the uncertain future, but he is definitely, truly in the present. The moon, his shadow, his two close friends, vouch for it.


(About the poem and the author – http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/at/libo/lb04.html

Shadow Told Me

Shadow doesn’t like to take bath at all, the wet hair confuses him, he licks himself but still remains wet. This is what Shadow told me. Once Shadow was happily sitting in the veranda then suddenly he saw something in the garden…then what, Shadow ran towards it. But before he could see it properly it flew away. Shadow’s Mamma told him that it is called a bird and that they can fly. Shadow now notices the birds all the time, they fly in the blue sky and vanish, sometimes they sit on trees and sing. Some sing sweetly and some talk ceaselessly. Shadow likes them; this is what he told me.

Two words that Shadow used – ‘happily’ and ‘suddenly’ – somehow looked magnificently beautiful to me. Whenever he talks to me, he uses these two words a lot –happily and suddenly. He is happy to get a yummy lunch and then suddenly he jumps from one place to another and again becomes happy. This superb cycle of being happy and then having a sudden emotional change and then in the end being happy again…wow! Amazing life! When there is a sudden change, one can feel anything like anger, hunger, excitement, retirement, sleepy, weepy, and more; the best part is you will be happy again. This is the kind of life Shadow lives, he doesn’t know it, he doesn’t need to know because he is happy; ignorant he may be but happier.



My Two Friends

My Two Friends

I am not dead. I am dying as I am living. I am old and shabby like a living scarecrow. I go unnoticed by the passersby. I have two friends – my wooden stick and my shadow.

With my wooden stick I have crossed many lands. Whose are those lands? I don’t know. It’s the warmth of the earth that I feel unlike the invisible boundaries and so I walk ahead.

I work few hours few days and earn enough to continue. I have a dream I always dream but i can’t remember it when I wake up. This is because of the running crowd I see every time I wake up. I like standing in rows, long ones, standing and waiting with my wooden stick, weird it may sound but I get time to waste.

I am poor, I am uneducated. I always stop to see a leaf fall and a butterfly fly. I can’t understand right and wrong. Once when I was in a city, a man left his dog at me. I ran while my wooden stick scared the dog away. I left the place swearing never to return in the dogs’ land.

I always accept and I never expect. I have heard of the government, it makes me laugh. I don’t know much about the laws but I am fearful to break one. Is there a law about a wooden stick? Someone said that the government is slow still I pray not to get caught. This is how I live.

You must have seen me. Some say I am the real India and some call me the common man. I own nothing. I feel free in this land though I know I am not. Heard a priest once saying something about Karma and reincarnation, I hope I die to become me in the next life. I feel comfortable the way I am. Change is strange for me.

My second friend, my shadow, never leaves me alone. I am alive, I am a common man and you must have seen me.