Prelude to Water Melody
How long will the full moon appear?
Wine cup in hand, I ask the sky.
I do not know what time of year
‘T would be tonight in the palace on high.
Riding the wind, there I would fly,
Yet I’m afraid the crystalline palace would be
Too high and cold for me.
I rise and dance, with my shadow I play.
On high as on earth, would it be as gay?
The moon goes round the mansions red
Through gauze-draped windows to shed
Her light upon the sleepless bed.
Against man she should have no spite.
Why then when people part, is she oft full and bright?
Men have sorrow and joy; they part or meet again;
The moon is bright or dim and she may wax or wane.
There has been nothing perfect since the olden days.
So let us wish that man
Will live long as he can!
Though miles apart, we’ll share the beauty she displays.
The poet talks about his attitude toward sorrow and joy, his love of freedom to enjoy pleasure and his fraternal feeling for his younger brother.
“Prelude to Water Melody” is a song composed by Su Shi, a writer of the Song Dynasty. It was written in the mid-autumn of the ninth year (1076) of Emperor Shenzong of the Song Dynasty, when the author was in Mizhou (present-day Zhucheng, Shandong Province). It is based on the seven-year absence of his brother Su Zhe, and is centered on the imagination and reflection of the mid-autumn moon, incorporating the sorrow and happiness of the world into the philosophical search for the universe and life.