Ode to the eight immortals of the wine cup

by Tu Fu

translated by Dogi Kow Roshi

[Ho] Zhijang sways on his horse as though on a boat; with dazzled eyes he falls into the watery depths of sleep.

[The king of] Ruyang sets off to court after downing three measures [of wine]; passing a handcart barrel his mouth waters; he regrets that his kingdom does not flow with wine.

The Premier [Li Shi-zhi] spends ten thousand cash each day [on drink]; his imbibing matches the great whale’s gulping down of the hundred streams; holding the wine cup, joyous sage, he calls himself ‘avoider of the worthy’.

[Cui] Zongzhi, light-hearted and carefree, handsome young master, raising the wine cup, his white eyes look toward the clear sky, he sways like a jade tree in the wind.

Su Jin has long been a vegetarian before the embroidered Buddha; when inebriated he often offends against the deity.

Li Bai drinks one measure [of wine] and writes a hundred poems; he sleeps in a wine shop in Chang’an market; even if the emperor himself should come [to invite him], he would not board [the imperial] barque. He styles himself ‘an immortal of the wine cup’.

Zhang Xu with three cups [of wine] is the master of cursive style; he takes his hat off baring the crown of his head to nobles; he takes up his brush writes on the paper like a fleeting cloud.

Jiao Sui is never so acute as after five measures of wine; his vivacious eloquence startles all those within the four walls.

The Eight Immortals - collection of the British Museum, London

The Eight Immortals - collection of the British Museum, London