Bright Moon, When Did You Appear? by Su Tung-p’o

Bright moon, when did you appear?
Lifting my wine, I question the blue sky.
Tonight in the palaces and halls of heaven
what year is it, I wonder?
I would like to ride the wind, make my home there,
only I fear porphyry towers, under jade eaves,
in those high places the cold wind would be more than I could bear.
So I rise and dance and play in your pure beams,
though this human world–how can it vie with yours?

Circling red chambers,
low in the curtained door,
you light our sleeplessness.
Surely you bear us no ill will–
why then must you be so round at times when we humans are parted!
People have their griefs and joys, their togetherness and separation,
the moon its dark and clear times, its roundings and wanings.
I only hope we two may have long long lives,
may share the moon’s beauty, though a thousand miles apart.

translated by Burton Watson

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