Chinese & Art Classroom

Shirley Created Music, Painting, Translation & Article for Chinese Classical Poem 177:Zeng Wang Lun--Prensent the Poem to Wang Lun by Li Bai-Oct 15,2016   

Listen to Shirley singing the Poem in Chinese & English,Oct 12, 2016
Listen to Shirley singing the Poem in English & Chinese,Oct 12, 2016

Listen to Shirley singing the Poem in Chinese & English April 12, 2016
Listen to Shirley singing the Poem in English & Chinese April 12, 2016

Listen to Shirley Explaining the Poem
Follow Shirley to Read the New Words & the Poem)

Learn the Meaning of the Poem & It Created Background

See Shirley Created Paintings for the Poem Oct 02,2016
See Shirley Created Paintings for the Poem April 12,2016
See Shirley Created Paintings for the Poem March 22,2016

Hello, friends, today, I would like to introduce a little poem Zen Wang Lun – Present the Poem to Wang Lun by one of the greatest poets in Chinese history -- Li Bai.

About the Poet:

Li Bai (701-762) is one of the greatest poets in China. He was born in Chengji --it is near today's Gansu province (the other version said it is today’s Tianshui in Gansu ). When he was 5 years old, he was taken to Sichuan by his father.
Li Bai was influenced by both Confucianism and Taoism. He started to travel in the country when he was 25 years old. He entered the imperial court and became a member of the Han-lin Academy at the age of 42. He was greatly delighted and eager to serve the emperor like a capable statesman. But the Emperor Xuanzong only had him as a wonderful palace poet to write trivial lyrics. He was unwilling to serve such a meaningless function, so he left from the capital in less than two years, to start his second travel aimlessly wandering all over the country. Then he was charged with an adherent of the rebel and sentenced to exile, though he was pardoned on the way. He died of illness at Dangtu in today's Anhui .

Li Bai lived in the most flourishing times in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Most of his poems reflected a positive times spirit. He is considered as the foremost romantic poet in the Tang Dynasty and his writing style has been affecting the following poets until now.

About 1,100 poems by Li Bai have been existing from his times. They are very popular and many of them have been recited by Chinese children.

Zeng Wang Lun – Present the Poem to Wang Lun is just one of most famous poems of Li Bai.

The Main Meaning of the Poem and the Lyrics of the Song in English

Present the Poem to Wang Lun

By Li Bai (701-762)
Tang Dynasty (618-907)

I Li Bai am about to sail by boat,
Suddenly I hear singing with the stamps on the bank.   
Peach Blossoms Pool’s water is a thousand feet deep,
It is shallower than the friendship of Wang Lun seeing me off.


(618 - 907)

李白乘舟将欲行- Lǐ Bái ché zhōu jiāng yù xíng,
忽闻岸上踏歌声- Hū wéng àn shàng tà gē shēng。
桃花潭水深千尺- Táohuā tán shuǐ shēng qiān chǐ,
汪伦- Bù jí Wāng Lún sòng wǒ qíng。

Writing Background of the Poem

In about 755, Li Bai went to Jing County, in today’s Anhui Province from Qiupu (today’s Guichi of Anhui Province). A local person Wang Lun treated him very so well that Li Bai wrote this poem and sent it to Wang Lun as a gift.

About Wang Lun, there are at least 3 different versions.

The first version said he was the magistrate of Jing County. Li Bai went to visit him and both of them admired each other and did not want to say bye and Li Bai wrote the poem for Wang Lun during Li toured around the Peach Blossom Pool in Jing county.

The second version said Wang Lun had another name Feng Lin and he had a literary reputation and he was a good friend of Wang Wei and Li Bai. They often communicated with poems and Li Bai wrote this poem for him.

The third version said Wang Lun was just an eminent village in Jia Village of Jing County. In 755, when he knew Li Bai visiting Jing County living at the house of his uncle’s, he was so excited that he could not help writing an invitation letter to Li Bai: “Would Mr. Li like to tour?   There is peach blossom of 10 miles here. Would Mr. Li like to drink? There are 10,000 hotels here.” With a joyful heart, Li Bai accepted his invitation. As soon as Li arrived there, he asked where the Peach Blossom Garden and the hotels were. Wang Lun answered, “The Peach Blossom is just the name of a pool and there is no any peach blossom here; the family name of owner of the the hotel is Wan ( the pronunciation of 10, 000 is Wan in Chinese), there are no 10,000 hotels here at all.” It made Li Bai laugh loudly and stayed there for several days.

On the day Li Bai would leave for the other place, Wang Lun sent him 8 famous houses, 10 pieces of silk fabric and his servants sent them to the boat of Li Bai ahead. After having a farewell meal or during the time that Wang Lun was not at home, Li Bai boarded his boat and would like to sail. Suddenly, he heard someone singing a song near by. When he turned his head and looked back, he just saw Wang Lun and some villagers singing a farewell song with the stamps on the bank. The sincere friendship of Wang Lun and the traditional farewell style touched Li Bai’s heart so much that he created this poem for Wang Lun immediately.

Enjoy This Poem

The first line: 李白乘舟将欲行- Lǐ Bái ché zhōu jiāng yù xíng: 李白 Lǐ Bái is the name of the poet; ché means by; zhōu means “boat ”; jiāng means “ will, be going to”; yù means “ want, wish” ; jiāng yù means “ be about to”; xíng means “ go” . This line means I Li Bai am about to sail by a boat.

The second line: 忽闻岸上踏歌声- Hū wéng àn shàng tà gē shēng: hū means “ suddenly ”; wéng means “ hear”;   岸上àn shàng means “on the bank ”; tà means “stamp, tread” gē means “sing, song”; shēng means “sound ”; 踏歌tà gē means “ beat time to a song with the feet” or “dancing accompanied by singing”. It was a kind of the folk customs in Tang Dynasty. This line means, suddenly I hear singing with stamps on the bank.

The first two lines are so simple and natural, just like speaking, but they have told us the time, location, and it has delivered us the sounds and pictures to readers. Now in our minds maybe there is a big view with several different pictures already. We can imagine that in a beautiful view with green mountains and blue water, under a big maybe wallow tree by a wide pool, a poet has boarded in a boat and he was about to sail and to continue a new travel somewhere soon. Suddenly, a good-humored song with the stamps of feet flew into his ears.

Wow! Here is what he has seen – Wang Lun and a group of villagers singing and dancing with their stamps of feet to see him off on the bank. What is a feeling in his heart now? Try to imagine, days ago, he got a warm invitation letter and was “ tricked ” to come to the beautiful village and then he was warmly treated for several days and even he was given so many gifts and a wonderful farewell banquet and now … I am sure, no matter who he is, he would be moved indeed.

Then, the first two narrated lines have made a good preparedness for the second lines to express his thankful emotion naturally.

The third line: 桃花潭水深千尺 Táohuā tán shuǐ shēng qiān chǐ – Peach Blossom Pool’s Water is a thousand feet deep. táohuā means “ peach blossom” ; tán means “deep pool, pond” 桃花潭 táohuā tán means “Peach Blossom Pool”; It is in today’s An Hui Province, and it is said the water of it is too deep to be fathomable. shuǐ means “water”; shēng means “deep”; qiān means “ thousand” chǐ is a unit of length (= 1/3 meter).
The last line:汪伦 Bù jí Wāng Lún sòng wǒ qíng – It is shallower than the friendship of Wang Lun seeing me off. bù, means “not, do not”; jí means “reach ”; bù jí means “not equal to” ; 汪伦 Wāng Lún, this is the name of the poet. This poem was just written for him. sòng means “see someone off” ; wǒ means “ I, me”; qíng means “feeling, affection, love”, here means “ friendship” .

The third line further tells us the location – Peach Blossom Pool and its character. Though there is no any peach blossom in the village, but the name of the pool has brought people into the beautiful view of the peach blossom. And the words “ Shen Qian Chi – ten thousand feet deep” have told us the feature and the character of the pool -- Depth. The depth of the pool just like the warm friendship of Wang Lun gave me. No, the latter is deeper than the front. Thereupon, the last two lines are spurted with so much deep feelings naturally: The Peach Blossom Pool’s water is ten thousand feet deep; it is shallower than the friendship of Wang Lun sending me off.   

Whole of the poem uses only 28 Chinese characters, a simple and natural language expressing a deep and warm friendship between Wang Lun and Li Bai. To borrow the natural things’ character to compare to a person’s friendship, so that it has not only expressed an abstract human feeling materialization and vivid, but also makes this poem deeper and brings people to think. Maybe this is just the reason why the little poem has been popular for more than 1,400 years.


1. Simplicity does not equal roughness. Sometimes, something simple but natural may be the one beautiful and prompting considerable thought. How to make and live simply but naturally is really a great art which is worth us to study and to practice always.

2. To take the words too literally or interpret something without real understanding would mislead people or delay our work or life.

To be honest, I could recite this poem in my childhood, but I did not really study the meaning of the word Peach Blossom in this poem until I started to write an article. Therefore, on Feb 20,   on the second day I came back China from the USA, I started to create a new painting to match this poem and I it created it with water, mountains, trees, especially, a lot of white blossom flowers because I thought the “ Peach Blossom Pull” in the poem and I felt very well after I completed it with a big smile. Days ago, when I read the data how Li Bai was “ tricked ” to go to the village of Wang Lun and how Wang Lun explained his words about the Peach Blossoms and about the hotels in his letter. There is no any Peach Blossoms but a pool named Peach Blossom Pool in his village and there are no 10 thousand ( its pronunciation is Wan in Chinese) Hotels but just the owner of the hotel’s family is Wan, I did not realize that I had made a mistake as Li Bai had done. :- )

Both of us were tricked by the literal meaning of the words in the invitation and in the poem.

I am thinking, fortunately Li Bai and I did not work on something important and we could just laugh at it as a job. If the things have happened on something or important and relate to the destiny of an organization or a person, what will happen?

So, how to avoid interpreting anything without real understanding maybe is a quite serious thing in our study, work and life. Do you agree with me?

For sharing the wonderful poem with you and my readers, I created a piece of music and an article first in June, 2005 and I created a painting to match them and re-composed the music in Feb, 2016. Now I have re-done all of the things and re-written the article. During my worked, Mr. Mike Joyce from Britain, Mrs. Fran Giglio and Mrs. Faith Eastman from the US, Dr. Dr. J. Darragh M. Elliott from Canada, Mr. Xu Yang and Mrs. Chang Xiaoguang from China have given me their hands and helped me on my English translation.

Professor Meng Wei Ye corrected my music and he directed me to sing the song in Chinese and played the piano for me; Mr. Ou Dejian made the record for me and he directed me to sing in English. His record is very clear, but for I enjoyed the music with some echo, so , I added it. Do you like it?

Now the article, music and the picture are not the fianl copies yet. I do hope to hear your opinions, could you please let me knoe which one is your favourite?

I really hope our effort will be some help with your Chinese and Chinese culture studying and hope to hear your comments and directions.

If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please let me know by writing to . You are also welcome to publish your opinions in Message Board as well.

Shirley Yiping Zhang

Written, Sung, Translated and Recorded on Oct 12, April 17, 2016 / March 28, 2016/June 13, 2005
comments powered by Disqus