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Mid Autumn Festival-1

5 Classic Chinese Poems to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival

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The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Lunar calendar (this year is Sep 10, 2022), when the moon is at its fullest.

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A type of Thanksgiving celebration, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for people to get together with family, share a great meal, and bask in the beauty of the moon.

The latter has been the subject of many legends and poems in Chinese culture, making this festival one of the most romantic and poetic holidays for Chinese people. It’s also a symbol of peace, prosperity, and loving relationships. 

As we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, let’s reflect on the timeless beauty of the moon with the help of these ancient poems

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When the Sun rises to the peak then it’s time to fall; 

When the moon is full then it’s time to reduce. 

– The Book of Changes

日中則昃,月盈則食 

These lines reflect the spirit of Taoism and the belief that people shouldn’t go to extremes in their lives. If we find ourselves at the height of our success, perhaps we should step back to avoid a fall.  

This principle has guided many famous Chinese officials in history who decided to resign at the peak of their fame to prevent a potential downfall. 

In the West, we see a similar example with George Washington who refused the offer to become king following his victory for the American colonies after the War of Independence. 

Instead of seeking glory, he stepped back, leaving the power in the hands of Congress. He subsequently became the founding father of the U.S. republic, thus ushering in a nation that inspired the world with its democratic values. 

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We all have joys and sorrows, partings and reunions.

The moon is bright or dim; there are waxings and wanings.

Nothing in this world is ever perfect.

Su Shi

人有悲歡離合,月有陰晴圓缺,此事古難全 

Life’s joys and sorrows are transitory; impermanence is the norm of life. Su Shi’s verses warn people to be careful during moments of glory and be hopeful during times of loss.  

In accepting this impermanence, we become more resilient and willing to let go of our desires and pursuits, knowing they are but fleeting moments in the long journey of life. 

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Mid-Autumn Festival

With a bright moon in my heart never waning,

Through the ages, we’ll enjoy it round and bright.

The moon’s glory embraces the rivers and land,

To please the heart is not only the autumn moonlight.

– Wang Yangming

吾心自有光明月,千古團圓永無缺。

山河大地擁清輝,賞心何必中秋節。

This poem is a metaphor for life’s unpredictable circumstances—the joys and sorrows that are part of the ebb and flow of time.  

According to the poet, as long as there’s light in our hearts, our surroundings will look bright, even if circumstances change as we age. 

If we can embrace the world with a bright heart, we’ll be full of inner joy, no longer dependent on external circumstances to make us happy.  

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The moon, grown full now over the sea,

Brightening the whole of heaven,

We, far away from each other, 

are cherishing this moment together now

– Zhang Jiuling

海上升明月,天涯共此時 

At this time, when the moon is full and bright, we might miss our beloved ones who aren’t with us, but the reminder that we’re all sitting under the same moon is often a consolation that we can still be close to each other in our hearts.

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Lunar Cleansing

People today can’t see the moon of yore;

The moon today did light people before.

– Li Bai

今人不见古时月,

今月曾经照古人。

Lives come and go, but the moon remains constant in the sky. These verses are a reminder that life on earth is transitory but that humans have shared similar experiences, wishes, and desires throughout the ages.  

After all, the moon’s presence in the night sky inspires the eternal question that has always accompanied humankind: Where do we come from and where do we go?

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Inspired for a Beautiful Life

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