The Drinking Song of the Earth’s Sorrow

(after Li-Tai-Po)

Now the wine calls in the golden goblet,
But don’t drink just yet, first I’ll sing you a song!
The song of sorrow
Shall in bursts of laughter sound through your souls.
When sorrow comes,
the soul’s garden lies wasted,
Withered away and dying are joy and song.
Dark is life, is death.

Lord of this house!
Your cellar holds its fill of golden wine!
Here, this lute I call my own!
To strike the lute and empty the glasses,
These things go together.
A full cup of wine at the right time
Is to me worth more than all the kingdoms of this earth!
Dark is life, is death.

The firmament is forever blue, and the earth
Will long remain and bloom in spring.
But you, man, how long will you live?
Not even a hundred years are you given to enjoy
All the rotten fruits of this earth!

Look down there!
In the moonlight among the graves
Squats a mad ghostly figure!
An ape it is!
Hear him, how his howling
Screams through the sweet smell of life!

Now take up the wine! Now is it time, companions!
Drain your golden cups to the dregs!
Dark is life, is death!

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