A Feast of Lanterns, by L. Cranmer-Byng, , at sacred-texts.com
The moon hangs low over the old continent of Chinese poetry. Chang O, Moon-goddess, is the beautiful pale watcher of the human drama, and all that she has known of secret things, of passion and pleasure, swift ruin and slow decay, she records in music. Through her great palaces of cold drift the broken melodies of unrecorded lives. She is the Goddess alike of sorrow and love—of Po Chü-i who in exile hears only the lurking cuckoo's blood-stained note, the gibbon's mournful wail, and Chang Jo Hu who rides triumphant on a moonbeam into the darkened chamber of his lady's sleep. Her rays are more persistent than water; you may draw the curtains and think you have shut out night with all its whispering of leaves, but a tiny crevice will let her in.
Best of all the poets loved her when she lingered above the broken courts and roofless halls of vanished kings.
Time and nemesis wrote large upon their walls, but moonlight brought them a glamour unknown to history, and cast a silver mantle lightly upon their dust. They were what Tu Fu and Meng Hao Jan willed—bright shadows in the rose alleys of romance; Gods of War and builders of their
dreams in stone. At least one singer prayed the Moon that his passionate heart might haunt the ruins of Chang-An, a nightingale. All sacred intimacies and desires that dare not clothe themselves in words have her confidence, and because she is goddess as well as woman she will never betray them. She links together the thoughts of lovers separated by a hundred hills and the lonely places of despair are steeped in her kindness. On the fifteenth of the eighth month she graciously descends from her "domain, vast, cold, pure, unsubstantial," and grants the desires of all who await her coming.
Lastly, she is the link between the present and the past, binding us in the solemn hours to the men or women who have lived and wrought beneath her spell. One Chinese poet, remembering in moonlight the lovers of long ago, prayed that lovers yet to come might also remember him. Two hundred years had flown, and after a night of splendour some woodman passing at dawn found a double lotus on a broken tomb. And Kyuso Muro, the Japanese philosopher, has written: "It is the moon which lights generation after generation, and now shines in the sky. So may we call it the Memento of the Generations. As we look upon it, and think of the things of old, we seem to see the reflections of the forms and faces of the past. Though the moon says not a word, yet it speaks. If we have forgotten them it
recalls the ages gone by… The present is the past to the future, and in that age some one like me will grieve as he looks upon the moon."