The Lovely Eyebrows (The New Moon)

Wang, Yi-sun 1

    The New moon gradually rises to the top of the willow trees. The light color penetrates the blossoms just like the moon pierces through clouds when the night is young. The bright moon brings me a hope of reunion with my love 2. I pray with deep piety 3. Perhaps my love and I may meet on this fragrant path. The new moon looks like an unfinished self-drawn eyebrow. I suspect Chang-e 4 still regrets leaving earth to move to the moon. It would be most lovely if my treasured cosmetic case could be hung on the little silver hook during this cold autumn night 5.

    Do not ask why the moon has waxed and waned since ancient times. It is difficult for Gang Wu to repair the gold mirror 6 even when he prudently sharpens his jade ax. Although Tai-yi Pond still exists 7, it lies in waste. Who will write poems by the pond to praise the moon again? The night is long on my favorite mountain. As I view the distant mountains and rivers, everything looks old and listless. The image of laurel flowers only exists in my memory.

1 Yi-sun Wang was a native of Kuai-ji City (present day Shao-xing City in Zhejiang Province). Sheng-yu, Bi-shan (green mountain), and Zhong-xian (middle god) were his other first names. He called himself Yi-si-shan-ren (jade-[bamboo-container]-mountain-man). Zai Ge says, "In my opinion, Kui Jiang's poetry is unprecedented and matchless. No one can even find a way to emulate his style. The only one whose poems came close to the quality of Kui Jiang's was Yi-sun Wang. The themes Wang conveyed aimed high and far. His rhythm was harmonious. His spirit was full of life, so his voice was optimistic. His writing was outstanding, so his poems were unconstrained and interesting. Yi-sun Wang was well advanced in scholarship and was fully qualified to be Kui Jiang's student."

2 "My love" refers to the Southern Song dynasty destroyed by Kublai Khan.

3 "The New Moon", written by Duan Li of the Tang dynasty, says, "When I open a book, I see the moon rise./ I come out, step down, and pray./ Others cannot hear my whispered prayer./ The north wind swirls the ribbon on my skirt." Both Duan Li and Yi-sun Wang were men. In their poems, they compared themselves to women in order to facilitate expressing their sensitive feelings.

4 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 by shooting 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.

5 "The little silver hook" refers to "the new moon". Its fullness symbolizes "the reunion with my love". "My treasured cosmetic case" refers to Wang's artistic work ¾ poetry. This sentence of Wang's poem says that his poetry can reveal its value only when the land of China returns to the hands of Chinese. In fact, the end of the Mongolians’ rule of China is related to this poem of Wang's. The Mongolian government tightened its iron rule by a monitoring system: for every nine Chinese families, there was a Mongolian official watching their activities. The Mid-autumn Festival (the full moon, the 15th of August) is also known as the Reunion Festival in China. Chinese people celebrate their family reunions by eating moon cakes. In 1368, Chinese people put the following message in their moon cakes: "Kill the Mongolians during the Mid-autumn Festival". This was how the Mongolian government's ninety years rule (1279-1368) in China came to an end. From hindsight the sentiment expressed in Wang's poem was more powerful than the Mongolian cavalry.

6 According to Chinese mythology, Gang Wu of the Han dynasty committed a crime. God wanted him to redeem his crime by felling the laurel tree on the moon. However, whenever he cut the tree with an ax, the wound healed immediately. Here the story is twisted somewhat. Wu’s ax is used to repair a mirror-like gold pan, the moon itself.

7 During the Han and Tang dynasties, Tai-yi Pond was built inside the palace. “The New Moon” written by Duo-sun Lu says, "When I watch the moon by the Tai-yi Pond/¼ "