The Moon in Chinese poetry

2013-12-02 07:32:01 GMT2013-12-02 15:32:01(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

China will launch the lunar probe, Chang'e-3, named after a legendary moon goddess, to the moon early Monday, the first time for China to send a spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial object.

The moon is one of the most important themes in Chinese poetry. The following are some of the most famous poems about the moon in different periods of China:

"A Tranquil Night" by Li Bai (701-762) in the Tang Dynasty, translated by Xu Yuanchong.

Abed, I see a silver light,

I wonder if it's frost aground.

Looking up, I find the moon bright;

Bowing, in homesickness I'm drowned.

"Drinking alone with the Moon" by Li Bai, translated by Xu Yuanchong.

Among the flowers, from a pot of wine

I drink without a companion of mine.

I raise my cup to invite the Moon who blends

Her light with my Shadow and we're three friends.

The Moon does not know how to drink her share;

In vain my Shadow follows me here and there.

Together with them for the time I stay,

And make merry before spring's spent away.

I sing and the Moon lingers to hear my song;

My Shadow's a mess while I dance along.

Sober, we three remain cheerful and gay;

Drunken, we part and each may go his way.

Our friendship will outshine all earthly love;

Next time we'll meet beyond the stars above.

"Moon and Frost" by Li Shangyin (about 813-858) in the Tang Dynasty, translated by Xu Yuanchong and Xu Ming.

No cicadea will trill when wild geese southward fly;

Viewed from lofty tower, water blends with the sky.

The moon and Frost Goddness are cold-proof on high;

Before the crystal palace in beauty they vie.

"Prelude to Water Melody" By Su Shi (1037-1101) in the Song Dynasty, translated by Lin Yutang.

How rare the moon, so round and clear!

With cup in hand, I ask of the blue sky,

"I do not know in the celestial sphere

What name this festive night goes by?"

I want to fly home, riding the air,

But fear the ethereal cold up there,

The jade and crystal mansions are so high!

Dancing to my shadow,

I feel no longer the mortal tie.H

She rounds the vermilion tower,

Stoops to silk-pad doors,

Shines on those who sleepless lie.

Why does she, bearing us no grudge,

Shine upon our parting, reunion deny?

But rare is perfect happiness--

The moon does wax, the moon does wane,

And so men meet and say goodbye.

I only pray our life be long,

And our souls together heavenward fly!

"Reply to Li Shuyi" by Mao Zedong (1893-1976), founder of the People's Republic of China, extracted from "Poems of Mao Zedong."

I lost my proud Poplar and you your Willow,

Poplar and Willow soar to the Ninth Heaven.

Wu Gang, asked what he can give,

Serves them a laurel wine.

The lonely moon goddess spreads her ample sleeves

To dance for these loyal souls in infinite space.

Earth suddenly reports the tiger subdued,

Tears of joy pour forth falling as mighty rain.

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