Friday, September 17, 2010

Moon Poetry

In my book, Thanking the Moon, you'll notice one of the elements the family brings to their night picnic is a book of poetry. Traditionally, it was during the Moon Festival that one waxed poetic--inspired by the beauty of the moon. If you read any Chinese poetry, you'll notice that a great many poems mention the moon. In fact, a legendary Chinese poet from the 8th century, Li Po (also known as Li Bai), is said to have died while trying to catch the image of the moon reflected in the waters of a lake. Here is a translation of one of his most famous poems, Drinking Alone With the Moon (See other translations HERE):
I take a bottle of wine and I go to drink it among the flowers.
We are always three–
counting my shadow and my friend the shimmering moon.
Happily the moon knows nothing of drinking,
and my shadow is never thirsty.

When I sing, the moon listens to me in silence.

When I dance, my shadow dances too.
After all festivities the guests must depart;
This sadness I do not know.
When I go home,
the moon goes with me and my shadow follows me.
But for your own Moon Festival Celebration, you might want something more child-friendly (and not about getting drunk!). You could try reciting my good friend Elaine's poem from her wonderful THINGS TO DO poetry collection (which is looking for a publishing home--hint, hint to any editors reading this!):


Live in the sky.
Be bold…
be shy.
Wax and wane
in your starry terrain.
Be a circle of light,
just a sliver of white,
or hide in the shadows
and vanish from sight.
Look like a pearl
when you’re brim-full
and bright.
Hang in the darkness
and dazzle the night.

But the best thing would be for you to write your own. This would be a fun activity for you to do during or in preparation for the Moon Festival celebration. An easy way to begin is use the simplified haiku format (5-7-5 syllables per line). I've found that this is a great way to take the intimidation factor out of writing poetry, especially with kids. Here is a poem I wrote, inspired by a night canoe ride on my vacation:

My canoe follows
the rippling silver path.
Will I reach the moon?

Try it yourself! Let the moon and the night inspire you!

In honor of my new book Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (now available!!) I'm running a week-long series of posts on the Moon Festival. Don't forget you can celebrate the book & the festival with me this Sunday in NYC at the MOCA's Mid-Autumn Family Festival!