Li Shangyin Poem: Frost and Moon – 李商隐《霜月》

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[1] 青女:指青霄玉女。主管霜雪的女神。

[2] 素娥:指月宫的嫦娥。

[3] 婵娟:古代大概有三种意思:一是形容姿态曼妙优雅(唐孟郊《婵娟篇》有“花婵娟,泛春泉;竹婵娟,笼晓烟”);二是指美女、美人,(唐方干《赠赵崇侍御》有“却教鹦鹉呼桃叶,便遣婵娟唱竹枝”);三是形容月色明媚或指明月(唐刘长卿《湘妃》有“婵娟湘江月,千载空蛾眉”)。这里的“婵娟”是指青女、素娥的美丽容貌。

Frost and Moon

Li Shangyin

No cicadas trill when I first hear wild geese cry;

The high tower overlooks water blending with the sky.

The Moon Goddess and her Maid of Frost are cold-proof;

They vie in beauty in moonlight over frosty roof.

Seeing the bright moon and frost, the poet imagines the Moon Goddess and her Maid of Frost are vying in beauty.


“Frost and Moon” is a poem written by Li Shangyin, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. This poem is about a moonlit night in late autumn, but instead of a static description, it draws on myths and legends to describe the cold beauty of the moonlit night. In the first line, the poem uses the change of weather to illustrate the cold and frosty sky and the arrival of late autumn; in the second line, the moon is clear and bright and the sky is high; in the third and fourth lines, the poem describes the superb goddesses, competing for beauty. The whole poem is based on imagination, with a clear and ethereal mood and a cold and beautiful atmosphere. The poet’s brush strokes are completely hovering in the sky, and the poetic realm is like a mirage, passing away with a snap of the fingers; the image of the poem is a perfect whole of fantasy and reality intertwined together. The poet brings the static scene to life, and the first two lines give rise to the imaginary mood of the last two lines, which vividly conveys a vivid and beautiful scene. This shows the aesthetic tendency of Li Yishan’s poem.

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