2 Popular Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Poems
There are many poems about the moon in Chinese literary history. A lot of literary men expressed their joys and sorrows, their ups and downs, by poetic verse in depicting the moon. The following 2 poems are masterpieces in Chinese literature wrote by Li Bai and Sushi respectively.
yuè xià dú zhuó
月 下 独 酌
Drinking alone under the Moon
huā jiān yì hú jiǔ dú zhuó wú xiāng qīn
花 间 一 壶 酒，独 酌 无 相 亲。
From a pot of wine amid the flowers, I drink alone beneath the moonshine without a partner.
jǔ bēi yāo míng yuè duì yǐng chén sān rén
举 杯 邀 明 月，对 影 成 三 人。
Raising my cup, I invite the moon and turn to my shadow which makes us three.
yuè jì bù jiě yǐn yǐng tú suí wǒ shēn
月 既 不 解 饮， 影 徒 随 我 身。
The moon cannot understand my enjoyable drinking, and my shadow only follows silently wherever I go.
zàn bàn yuè jiǎng yǐng xíng lè xū jí chū
暂 伴 月 将 影， 行 乐 须 及 春。
The moment with the moon and shadow, I take the opportunity to have a joyous time until the end of spring.
wō gē yuè pái huái wǒ wǔ yǐng líng luàn
我 歌 月 徘 徊， 我 舞 影 零 乱。
I sing and the moonlight lingers, I dance and my shadow scattered.
xǐng shī tòng jiāo huān zuì hòu gè fēn sàn
醒 时 同 交 欢，醉 后 各 分 散。
Sharing cheer when I am awake, separating our ways when I am drunk
yǒng jié wú qíng yòu xiāng qī miǎo yún hàn
永 结 无 情 游， 相 期 邈 云 汉。
Make our friendships out of the secular world forever; meet next time in the sky together.
Good to know: Li Bai had political ambitions when he was young, and was a talented poet in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), but he didn’t want to start his political career after coming under imperial examination. He had tried to become a noble from being a commoner in one fell swoop. His friend recommended him to the emperor, but the emperor admired his poem, without paying attention to his political views. This poem was written in the frustration of seeing all his ambitions dashed, and presenting his grief and personal loneliness.
shuǐ diào gē tóu
水 调 歌 头
The Mid-Autumn Festival Tune
míng yuè jǐ shí yǒu bǎ jiǔ wèn qīng tiān
明 月 几 时 有？把 酒 问 青 天。
When will the moon be bright and clear? With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the deep blue sky.
bù zhī tiān shàng gōng què jīn xī shì hé niān
不 知 天 上 宫 阙，今 夕 是 何 年。
Not knowing what is the time of year would be tonight in the palace on high.
wǒ yù chéng fēng guī qù yòu kǒng qiòng lòu yù yù gāo chù bú shèng hán
我 欲 乘 风 归 去，又 恐 琼 楼 玉 宇， 高 处 不 胜 寒。
Riding the wind, there I would fly. Yet I’m afraid the jade and crystal mansions would be too high and cold for me.
qǐ wǔ nóng qīng yǐng hé sì zài rén jiān
起 舞 弄 清 影，何 似 在 人 间？
Dancing to play with my shadow, how does it compare with in the world?
zhuān zhū gē dī qǐ hù zhào wú mián
转 朱 阁，低 绮 户，照 无 眠。
Turning around the vermillion pavilion, stooping through the gauzed window, the moon shines upon the sleepless.
bù yīng yǒu hèng hé shì cháng xiàng bié shí yuān
不 应 有 恨，何 事 长 向 别 时 圆？
The moon should bear us no grudge, why is it oft full and bright when people part from each other?
rēn yǒu bēi huān lí hé yuè yǒu yīn qíng yuán quē cǐ shì gǔ nān quān
人 有 悲 欢 离 合， 月 有 阴 晴 圆 缺，此 事 古 难 全。
People may have sorrows and joys, partings and reunions, as well as the moon is bright or dim, wax and wane. Rare is perfect since the ancient times.
dàn yuàn rén cháng jiǔ qiān lǐ góng chán juān
但 愿 人 长 久，千 里 共 婵 娟。
May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart.
Good to know: Sushi was a famous poet in North Song (960-1127). In this poem, the emotions of sadness and pleasure combine with philosophical thinking reflecting the author’s feeling of complexity and contradiction, as well as passion of life and the optimistic view.