Savoring the Moon on a Clear Cold Night


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The idea that a bright moon could raise spirits
and fill hearts was certainly quite familiar to Su Dong Po.

In “Mid Autumn Moon", the imaginative poet writes,

The sunset clouds are gathered far away. . .
it's clear and cold.

And as the Milky Way is silent. . .
I turn to my jade plate.

So next year where will I watch the bright moon?

A magnificent example. . . of lyrical poetry of the highest order. . . Su often found ways. . . to integrate his tremendous heart and wandering spirit into verses that tarry deep within the mind.

Influenced by Buddhism and Taoism, . . . one of the most interesting phases of his life. . . occurred after he received an unexpected reprieve for a jail sentence for slandering emperor Wang Anshi. Su believed that this sentence would end in his own execution.

Instead, upon being exiled to Huangzhou in 1081, . . . Su's life consisted of religious activities that included prayers, offerings of incense and contemplations at a local temple.

In the following year he purchased a piece of land on the eastern slope of a hill on which a government post was located.

It was here that he wrote commentaries on the Yijing, Lunyu and Shujing, three classic Confucian texts.

It is thought that these writings reflect a need to return to the Confucian values of his youth.

It is also said that Su sought to purify his mind as he completed this work.

He also purportedly sought justification for his political actions.

As a side note. . . it is perhaps slightly amusing to discover that a commemorative dish, Su Dong Po pork continues to be served in his honor. . . to this very day.

Gerald Marchewka is an American freelance writer currently residing in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. He can be reached at


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