"The Role of the Public Intellectual"

Also Jack Beatty,
Public Intellectual

On Point

Some poetry...

Li Bai (701-762), one of the “Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup,” supposedly died drunk, trying to embrace the moon from his little boat on the Yangtze. I’ve read other translations of his poem “Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon.” Compared to Lunde’s, they seem stodgy and affected and “poetic” in a bad way. Lunde’s version is a mellow nighttime ballad, sweetly timeless, that captures that feeling of setting off on a road trip with no destination. There’s also a poignant humor to it that’s missing in other versions, but feels so authentic that I’m just sure it’s the poet’s voice, and sure I would’ve really liked him, if I’d ever come across him singing and dancing under some fat spring moon, hanging out with his shadow.

I offer a cup to the moon.
With my shadow there are three of us,
but the moon doesn’t know how to drink,
and my shadow can’t help but follow me.
Still, I’ll make do with their company,
have fun and make the most of spring.
I sing and the moon rolls around,
I dance and my shadow leaps about.
While I’m lively we enjoy each other,
when I get too drunk we go our own ways.
Let’s keep this undemanding friendship
till we join together in the far Cloud River.

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