Mid-Autumn Festival Poems

In the literary history of China, many poets penned praise to the pure moon of mid-autumn night and gave words to their feelings. The following are some of the best of those poems.

Thoughts in the Silent Night 静夜思

By Li Bai (李白)

Li Bai used four lines of five characters to express his homesickness at the Moon (Mid-Autumn) Festival.

床 前 明 月 光

疑 是 地 上 霜

举 头 望 明 月

低 头 思 故 乡

Chuáng qián míng yuèguāng

Yí shì dìshàng shuāng

Jǔ tóu wàng míngyuè

Dī tóu sī gùxiāng

Moonlight shining through the window

Makes me wonder if there is frost on the ground

Looking up to see the moon

Looking down I miss my hometown

The Moon Festival

By Su Shi (苏轼)

明月几时有

把酒问青天

不知天上宫阙

今夕是何年


我欲乘风归去

又恐琼楼玉宇

高处不胜寒

起舞弄清影


何似在人间

转朱阁

低绮户

照无眠


不应有恨

何事长向别时圆

人有悲欢离合

月有阴晴圆缺

此事古难全


但愿人长久

千里共婵娟

Míngyuè jǐshí yǒu

Bǎjiǔ wèn qīngtiān

Bùzhī tiānshàng gōngjué

Jīnxī shì hé nián


Wǒ yù chéng fēng guī qù

Yòu kǒng qióng lóu yùyǔ

Gāo chù bùshèng hán

Qǐwǔ nòng qīng yǐng


Hé shì zài rénjiān

Zhuǎn zhū gé

Dī qǐ hù

Zhào wúmián


Bù yìng yǒu hèn

Héshì zhǎng xiàng bié shí yuán

Rén yǒu bēihuānlíhé

Yuè yǒu yīn qíng yuán quē

Cǐ shì gǔ nán quán


Dàn yuàn rén chángjiǔ

Qiānlǐ gòng chánjuān

When is there moonlight?

Winecup in hand, I ask the deep blue sky

Not knowing in those celestial palaces on high

What year it is tonight


I long to fly on the wind

Yet dread those crystal towers, those courts of jade

Freezing to death among those icy heights

Instead I rise to dance with my pale shadow


Better off, after all, in the world of men

Rounding the red pavilion

Stooping to look through gauze windows

The moon shines on the sleepless


The moon should know no sadness

Why, then, is she always full when dear ones are parted?

As men's grief and joy, parting and union

So the moon is bright or dim, waxes and wanes

Always some flaw, and so it has been since of old


My one wish for you is long life

And to share in this loveliness far, far away

This is a famous Mid-Autumn lyric written for his brother Ziyou (1039–1112), when the poet was away from the imperial court. According to some commentators, "the palace on high" might allude to the imperial palace and therefore, after reading this lyric, Emperor Song Shenzong said that Su Shi was loyal.

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