This is just for the occasion, but also because this is probably Su Shi’s most famous work – partly due to it being covered by Faye Wong and Teresa Teng. An ode to the moon written during the Mid-Autumn Festival of 1076 AD, when Su Shi had been exiled to the south, its charm perhaps lies in its ambiguity – is it about frustration at a career thwarted, family distanced, a life astray? Or perhaps Su Shi, ever energetic, was simply making a statement of his own irrepressibility?
Either way. Here we go. Again, since this is a lyric and not a poem, the ‘title’ is not in fact its title; this poem is often known by its first line.
In the Mid-Autumn of the bing-chen  year, I drank until the dawn, got completely hammered, and wrote this poem in memory of Ziyou .
At which time shall the bright moon appear? Wine in hand, I ask the blue-green sky.
And up in the celestial palace towers, who knows which year it is tonight?
I’d fain return to heaven, borne on the winds;
But fear that the jade towers  high as they are, might yet be cold beyond my endurance.
Yet here I dance and play with moonlight’s shadows,
How could heaven compare with the human world!
Rounding the red porch, hanging under silk blinds, the moon illuminates my sleeplessness.
If the moon bears no grudge against men, why is it round when departures are at hand?
Man’s lot is joy, sorrow, to part and to unite;
The moon’s is to wax and wane, in cloudy or clear nights.
Such things we can never steer, try as we might.
I can but hope that men may ever be,
And though separated, ever the same moon see.
 Bing-chen – everyone knows about the twelve celestial animals by now, and I wager many also know about the Ten Heavenly Trunks; bing-chen is simply a coordinate of a heavenly ‘trunk’ and an earthly ‘branch’, the latter corresponding to one of the twelve animals – in this case the dragon. Yeah it’s a bit complicated. I’ll say more about it in another post.
In any case, the year corresponds to 1076 – and you can tell it is a dragon year because 2012 is a dragon year, and 2012 – 1076 = 936, which is divisible by 12 – the two years share an animal!
 Ziyou is the courtesy name of Su Zhe, Su Shi’s younger brother. While in exile (actually more like administrative leave cum demotion cum local county assignment), Su Shi had petitioned to be given a county near where his brother was, so they could at least hang out more; but that had been rejected when he wrote the poem. It’s a pretty hard blow, not hanging out with your family on Mid-Autumn. *sigh*
 The moon in Chinese legend contains, among other things, a palace of jade where the princess Chang’e 嫦娥 resided.