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  • Julia Min

西江月.黄州中秋 My Moon Festival at Huangzhou


原作: 苏轼(字子瞻, 号东坡居士; 11世纪北宋)

英译: 闵晓红(2024.03)











My Moon Festival at Huangzhou

-to the tune The Moon over River West

Chinese original: Su Shi (11th AC, social name 'Zizhan', art name 'Dongpo')

English translation: Julia Min (Mar. 2024)


We’re living in a big world of illusion and dream

Where you could be shattered in cold and in heat.

The wind whistles thru the trees falling more leaves

Onto the porch to ruffle my temples’ shades of grey.


A bright moon is often shrouded by some clouds.

A poor wine can’t make a busy place you need.

With whom could the loner share the festive night?

Just a wine toast to the north sky, with misty eyes.


What would you write after you had just experienced the worst challenge in life? It was September 1080 when Su Shi was thrown into prison and stayed there for 103 days in the filthy dark cell pit after having fallen into a political setup by his opponents, -- the biggest downturn from a most-trusted high official by the Throne to a prisoner who’s not sure if he could see the next sunrise. So here’s what he wrote on the first Moon Festival at Huangzhou where he stayed in a temple with a void title and very mean salary – a typical parole life of a banished politician in the Song dynasty.


His temple hair quickly turned grey as he was utterly shattered by the unexpected shock. The loss of status and wealth made him see more clearly about the nature of life here. Still, the festival of reunion brought back all the good memories of the past. The philosophical insight was not enough for a breakthrough of the lonely sentiments yet. He was seized with the humiliation and had to spend the moon night with a lonely heart. Fortunately, as we know, he didn’t sink there but rose above all miseries with a free spirit and broad-minded sophistication soon in Huangzhou and stood the tests as all other great minds in history.


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