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NIGHT WALK AT CHENGTIAN TEMPLE

by Su Shi (1036 - 1101, Song Dynasty)
English translation: Hsin-Yu Huang

12th Day of the 10th Lunar Month, Yuanfeng Era

In the evening, when I was about to change my clothes to get ready for bed, the moonlight shone from the window and I gladly rose to take a walk. Thinking that no one was accompanying me, I went to Chengtian Temple to look for Zhang Huaimin, who was also not yet asleep, and we walked together in the courtyard.

The courtyard was bright, as if basked in water, with aquatic grasses and flowers crossing one another. But in fact, they were the shadows of bamboos and cypress.

When does the moon ever not shine? Where are there no cypresses? Yet, there are seldom leisurely men like the two of us.


WHEN DOES THE BRIGHT MOON APPEAR?

Tune: Prelude to Water Music
English translation: John Balcom

Mid autumn, 1076.
I drank till the sun came up and got very drunk.

I missed my brother Ziyou and wrote these lyrics.

When does the bright moon appear?
I lift my cup and ask the night sky:
Do you know, in heaven’s court,
What year it is?

I would ride the wind and wend my way there,
But I fear the carnelian towers and the jade halls.
I cannot stand the cold in such lofty places.

I rise and dance with my shadow,
What is it like in the human world?
The moon goes round the red chambers,
The gauzy windows,
Shinning on the sleepless.
You should have no regrets.
Why is it always full when we are apart?

People have sorrow and joy, meetings and departures;
The moon is bright and dim, full and waning.
There was nothing perfect since the past,
But I hope that humans can live long
And enjoy the beauty of the moon,
though it is a thousand li away.

── from Dongpo Ci (Poetry of Su Shi)