Poem: In the Quiet Night (静夜色) by Li Bai

As I have written before, memorizing songs and poems was one of the first ways L learned to speak Chinese. There is something about the rhythm of classical Chinese poetry that makes it very appealing to children; they can memorize the rhymes without even realizing that they are learning some of the most beautiful, eloquent, and profound works of literature ever written anywhere.

One of the most common poems, memorized by almost every schoolchild in China, is “Jing Ye Se” by Li Bai. Watch an animation on YouTube:

Here is the poem, in simplified characters with pinyin, followed by the English translation: 

  chuáng qián míng yuè guāng
  床 前 明 月 光,
  yí shì dì shàngshuāng
  疑 是 地 上 霜。
  jǚ tóu wàng míng yuè
  举 头 望 明 月,
  dī tóu sī gù xiāng
  低 头 思 故 乡。

Before my bed, the moon is shining bright,
I think that it is frost upon the ground.
I raise my head and look at the bright moon,
I lower my head and think of home.

This site provides a nice version of the poem, with pinyin and English translation as you hover the mouse over each character.

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