The Song of the Autumn Night

Wang, Wei (700 A.D.-761 A.D.)

The soul of the laurel tree 1 started to rise;
The air was cool with autumn dew.
Although its light silk was too thin,
She did not change her garment.
Unable to face returning to her empty boudoir,
She continued to play her silver zither 2 long into the dead of night.

1 The soul of the laurel tree refers to the moon. In Chinese mythology, there was a laurel tree on the moon. It was 5000 feet tall. Gang Wu was delinquent during his pursuit of godhood. God punished him by ordering him to cut down the laurel tree. He tried to cut it down. However, the tree’s wounds healed immediately. This story led later generations to call the moon the laurel tree. The Canon of History says, "The dark side of the moon was called the soul of the moon." Consequently, the soul of the laurel tree became another name for the moon.

2 The zither is a string instrument. It has thirteen strings.