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Chinese Calligraphy Poem (A How To…)

    Writing a poem in Chinese is a great way to practice Chinese calligraphy.

    Below, I have given instructions on how to write a famous poem by one of China’s most famous poets.

    How to write ‘Quiet Night Thought’ by Li Bai in Chinese

    Who was Li Bai?

    Li Bai (701AD – 762AD) is one of China’s two most famous poets. The other was his friend, Du Fu (712 AD – 770 AD).Li Bai is believed to have been born in a city called Suyab, in what is today located in Kyrgyzstan. Suyab was then a part of the Silk Road, a trading route that stretched from China out across Eurasia.

    He seems to have been ethnically Chinese, with ancestry in today’s Gansu Province. He was born during the Tang Dynasty, which today is still seen as one of the most prosperous and culturally rich periods in China’s history.It was an age when many great poets appeared. Li Bai, along with Du Fu, are seen by many as the greatest of that very great era. 

    Li Bai’s mastered many traditional styles of Chinese poetry. He expressed a playful and free-spirited personality with a strong sense of curiosity. His poems cover a wide range of themes, from humorous wine drinking scenes to solemn nostalgic reflections.

    About ‘Quiet Night Thought’

    Quiet night thought is one of Li Bai’s most famous poems, which makes it one of the most famous in China.

    It is a short poem, with only 20 characters. Like most classical poetry, it doesn’t contain a subject (no ‘I’, ‘My’ or ‘Me’) and manages to efficiently convey a rich scene. In other words, it says a lot with only a few words.

    ‘Quiet Night Thought’

    床前明月光
    Moonlight shines behind [my] bed;
    疑是地上霜
    Like frost on the floor.
    举头望明月
    [I] raise my head to look at the moonlight;
    低头思故乡
    [I] lower [my] head and think of home.

    holding the Chinese calligraphy brush properly…

    If you are writing this poem with a Chinese calligraphy brush, make sure you know how to hold it properly.

    Which direction should the characters be written?

    You can write the characters of the poem left to write, just as English is written and just as the poem is written above (in the section of this article titled ‘Quiet Night Thought‘).

    Or you can write it in the traditional way Chinese was written: from the top to the bottom and from right to left.

    Stroke order of ‘Quiet Night Thought’

    Line 1

    Line 1 stroke order of Li Bai's poem 'Quiet Night'

    Line 2

    Line 2 stroke order of Li Bai's poem 'Quiet Night'

    Line 3

    Line 4 stroke order of Li Bai's poem 'Quiet Night'

    Line 4

    Line 4 stroke order of Li Bai poem quiet night