The Moon over the West River
· To the Fairy of Mume Flower
Your bones of jade defy miasmal death;
Your flesh of snow exhales immortal breath.
The sea sprite among flowers often sends to you
A golden-eyed, green-feathered cockatoo.
Powder would spoil your face;
Your lips need no rouge cream.
As high as morning cloud you rise with grace;
With pear flower you won’t share your dream.
The poet compares his beloved Morning Cloud to the fairy of mume flower.
The song “The Moon over the West River · To the Fairy of Mume Flower” is a lyric written by Su Shi, a writer of the Song Dynasty, when he was deported to Huizhou in Lingnan. This lyric was written as a tribute to Chaoyun, his concubine who was deported to Huizhou with the author. The lyric describes the plum blossoms outside of Lingnan with their jade bones and ice posture, their plain faces and red lips, their high feelings and clouds, not dreaming with the pear blossoms, and their own style and charm. The first section praises the high style of plum blossoms in Lingnan to praise Chaoyun for coming to the miasmatic land in Lingnan with the lyricist without fear of “miasma and fog”; the second section praises the beauty of plum blossoms to write about Chaoyun’s natural beauty, and then thanks Chaoyun for her pure and noble feelings and mutual friendship, and points out the purpose of mourning for the dead. The whole lyric is a poem about a plum and a person, with a hazy and unreal atmosphere and a confusing meaning. It is a masterpiece among Su Shi’s euphemisms, with its mournful tone and long rhythm.