Dancing with my Moonshadow

I love the imagery in the poetry of Li Bai (AD701-762)
His poem “Dancing alone beneath the moon” justified his drinking alone. This was frowned upon in Tang China. But Li Bai claims not to be alone for he has company, the company of the Moon and his own moonshadow.
I have tried this on a warm night and you can be perfectly happy drinking with these two companions.


Dancing with my Moonshadow

I sway with my back to the moonlight,
My shadow is swaying with me.
My shadow’s my slave, it seems so right,
For how can a shadow be free?

As I dance my slave dances here too,
I’m drunk and my pain’s now at bay.
As I yearn now to seek to renew,
My troubles now all fade away.

Moonshadows abound here on this night,
The Moon here’s a glory to see.
A shadow as slave here seems so right;
For this is how all things ought be!

There’s much that once made my soul sad,
But my Shadow here fills me with glee.
This brief time, I’m feeling oh, so glad;
Moon Shadow I’ll never set free.

Old Cruelty makes shadows of live folk,
Coerce them to do as they’re told.
And bind them like they’re in an old yolk;
The souls of the cruel are all cold.

As I dance with my slave we are free.
All drunken we don’t give a damn.
The road to the stars is above me;
Here I’ll be the man that I am.

© Trevor Morgan 13 April 2018


This is a translation of Li Bai’s poem:

Drinking alone beneath the Moon

Beneath the blossoms with a pot of wine,
No friends at hand, so I poured alone;
I raised my cup to invite the moon,
Turned to my shadow, and we became three.
Now the moon had never learned about drinking,
And my shadow had merely followed my form,
But I quickly made friends with the moon and my shadow;
To find pleasure in life, make the most of the spring.

Whenever I sang, the moon swayed with me;
Whenever I danced, my shadow went wild.
Drinking, we shared our enjoyment together;
Drunk, then each went off on his own.
But forever agreed on dispassionate revels,
We promised to meet in the far Milky Way.

Li Bai


The Curse of “Free Verse”

I have ventured to poetry classes and groups in the past.
On each occasion I have been confronted with hostility towards lyrical verse and contempt. I avoid such encounters now.
It seems to me the poetry establishment has peer reviewed itself into irrelevance.

Free Verse Curse

Who misbegot this tommyrot?
That does not beat a time.
It’s rhythmlessness so soon forgot,
This formless ooze of slime.

A falsehood that they oft propose –
They claim the name of “Poet”!
Pure tripe is all they can compose:
And deep at heart they know it.

Trevor Morgan 14 March 2015


Poetry competitions are much the same. They have been awarding prizes to short works of prose for long decades and calling the tripe poetry. After awards the winning rubbish is forgotten as it always was unworthy.

Sonnet – Stand and Wait!

Milton wrote “they also serve who stand and wait”
Milton never was quite my cup of tea so I could not resist taking the contrary approach!

Stand and wait!

There is no service where you stand and wait,
Just drawn out time when all seems bleak and sad.
Moods swing there so between pure love and hate.
Now too much waiting can drive sound minds mad.
Some mothers pace about both night and morn;
While others will ensure no mood’s revealed
Nor let some see inside where all’s forlorn.
With effort they ensure all sadness is concealed.
Secure, each child may hold tight mother’s hand.
Some young though seem to know good words to say.
Ah, strange it is how some young understand
And empathise upon the darkest day.
Then joy explodes at last when news arrives
And out of dismal Fear true Hope then thrives.

©Trevor Morgan 12 November 2014

Poetry (two views, the right, the wrong!)

I wrote this over 50 years ago.
I was listening to discussion at an English class at night school.
Clearly, I am not a fan of free verse, so “Poetry 1” is for me and to me, “Poetry 2” is not poetry at all, it is prose!

Poetry 1

Poetry is not poetry if
Poetry does not rhyme
Poetry is not poetry if
It does not beat a time

Poetry is not poetry if
The words quickly escape
Poetry is not poetry if
It’s not hammered into shape

Rhythm and rhyme
Rhythm and rhyme
Must be worked at all the time
So it is not poetry if it does not rhyme


Poetry 2

Poetry has no need to rhyme
Poetry is not rhyme
It is just a rhythmic array of words
Without a neat metre line upon line

Poetry comes from somewhere within
Poetry comes from inside the mind
And it has nothing new to say
Just a new way to say it

Alliteration and versification
Are some of its aids
But they are not it
Poetry is that which it is
And being what it is, just is


© Trevor Morgan 1967


Note I have kept it without punctuation as that is the way I wrote for decades.