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2 of the Most Famous Chinese Mid-Autumn Poems

2 of the Most Famous Chinese Mid-Autumn Poems

Written by Fercility JiangUpdated Dec. 26, 2023

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.

1. 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

2. The Moon Festival

By Su Shi (苏轼)




















Míngyuè jǐshí yǒu

Bǎjiǔ wèn qīngtiān

Bùzhī tiānshàng gōngquè

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 cháng 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.

Want to share the Mid-Autumn Festival story with your family? The 3-minute video below will show you all about it.

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