The flames of candles waver in the wind. The dew moistens colored lanterns.
The lantern lights in the city reflect one another. The moonlight shines on the
ceramic shingles. The light clouds disperse. Crystal-like Chang-e
is about to descend. Her clothing is simple yet elegant. Her waist is slender
like that of a southern girl. Flutes and drums are clamorous. Human shadows are
random and everywhere. The smell of musk drifts down the entire street.
This parade reminds me of the Lantern Festival at the capital. During that
night the curfew was lifted. Seen from a tower, a thousand doors were lit like
day. Everyone came out from their house and celebrated. Noble women carried silk
handkerchiefs and rode in carriages ornamented with gold flowers. After the
people said their farewells, dust arose like smoke and followed the horses. The
Lantern Festival is the brightest festival of the year. However, I no longer
have the enthusiasm I had as a young man. Time goes fast. After I ride my swift
carriage back, all the singing and dancing come to an end.
During the Mid-autumn Festival, the white lotuses bloomed luxuriantly in
Emperor Xuan’s Tai-yi Pool. The emperor held a party by the pool to admire the
beauty of the flowers. All his officials praised the flowers greatly. Emperor
Xuan pointed to his favorite concubine, Tai-zhen Yang, and asked, "Can they
compete with this flower that understands my words?" The Royal Music School
composed a melody for this story and named it "The Flower that Understands My
Words". Here "flower" refers to lantern lights and women in general. This poem
about the Lantern Festival was written while Zhou lived in the southern part of
the State of Jing.
According to Chinese mythology, Chang-E was the wife of an archer, Yi,
during Emperor Yao's reign. Yi was humble and honest when he was young. It was
very hot at that time because the sky had ten suns. Yi helped people shoot down
nine of them. After accomplishing this great feat, he became proud and evil.
Later, he went to the Mother of the Heavens to acquire the elixir of life.
Chang-E would not allow an evil person to live forever, so she stole the elixir
and swallowed it. Then she flew to the moon and lived there forever.