Art and Aesthetics

Frozen Pond

Fu[1] To The Moon That Illuminates The Frozen Pond        赋得月照冰池

“Often,” Beethoven leaned back in the armchair of the hotel café, “the urge to write is a drug. My passion justifies me… Even though  I often tear up what I have written. ”

Shangyin and Beethoven were at the Shangri La Hotel in downtown Shenzhen. It was close to the railway station, by the intersection where immigrants newly arrived from the hinterland leap over the thoroughfare’s white fences, and where billionaires sleep in their cavernous hotels.

The moon, a faint sliver in the dark sky, smiled down on the Wild East, or perhaps it was crying. For it was an ambiguous night, too late in the evening to do anything meaningful, and too early to sleep.  Sometimes time itself is indeterminate, as if it has a conscience, and is unsure whether to kill or heal, for it is both the greatest killer and the greatest healer.

The lobby’s sparkling, golden interior contrasted with Beethoven’s silvered mane. Tobacco stains and strands of hair marred the dark wool of his old Armani suit, and the lapels were turned up as if for protection. Wrinkles danced across his face. His sharp gray eyes peered at Shangyin.

“Like a phoenix, my music rises from the ashes.”

“An inch of love, an inch of ashes…” Li Shangyin muttered. He examined the ice in his glass. Such ice was precious where he came from, stored in the lacquered cabinets of emperors and rich merchants. Here it was everywhere, despite the heat. He leaned back, as if to balance the energy of the German sitting across from him.

“Please, give me a drag!” Beethoven suddenly leaned forward.

“Excuse me?”

“I want marijuana…viper’s drag the American’s call it.” Beethoven barked.

“There you go again,” Shangyin sighed, “I do not know why you cannot talk like a normal person!” His eyes turned towards the lobby door where the sounds of singing could faintly be heard.

皓月方离海,  hào yuè fāng lí hǎi,

坚冰正满池。  jiān bīng zhèng mǎn chí。

金波双激射,  jīn bō shuāng jī shè,

璧彩两参差。  bì cǎi liǎng  cēn cī。

影占徘徊处,  yǐng zhàn  pái huí chǔ,

光含的皪时。  guāng hán de lì shí。

高低连素色,  gāo dī lián sù sè,

上下接清规。  shàng xià jiē  qīng guī。

顾兔飞难定,  gù tù fēi nán dìng,

潜鱼跃未期。  qián yú yuè wèi qī。

鹊惊俱欲绕,  què jīng jù yù rào,

狐听始无疑。  hú tīng shǐ  wú yí。

似镜将盈手,  sì jìng jiàng yíng shǒu,

如霜恐透肌。  rú shuāng kǒng tòu jī。

独怜游玩意,  dú lián  yóu wán yì,

达晓不知疲。  dá xiǎo  bù zhī pí。


The bright moon sets itself apart from the sea

Frozen ice completely covers the pond

The moonlight dances like waves of gold

A jade coin with a hole that dips and rolls[2]

Shadows fall, seeming to pace back and forth

Trembling beneath the glowing pearl

A black strip links the mountains and the plain

High and low, the moonlight unfurls

It is hard to say where the lunar rabbit will fly

Who knows where the pearlfish will leap?

Startled, circling the trees are black magpies

The fox listens, knowing when the ice has taken hold

It seems the mirror grasps my hand

Fearful is the frost beneath my skin

In my solitude, wandering this cold playland

Sleepless until dawn, not weary, I’m all in.


Musical Interlude: Mark Plays The First Movement From The Moonlight Sonata By Ludwig Van Beethoven


This is the most robust of piano pieces. No matter who plays it, it survives. In some ways, the sound is primordial, even spiritual, like the Om of the Bhagavad-gita. To the musician, it can be severely beautiful. To the wounded lover, it is an icy mirror that grasps the hands, casting a fearful reflection. 

[1] The Fu is a classical poetic form that uses combines verse and prose to expressively detail a place, object or feeling.

[2] The coins of Classical China often had a hole in the centre

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