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Change Files to the Moon

Houyi, seeking perpetual youth, obtained the elixir1 of immortality3 from Queen Mother of the West who lived in the Kunlun Mountains. Returning to his palace, he confided4 the good news to his wife Chang'e, a lady graceful5 of carriage and unparalleled of beauty, very much loved by her husband.

 

One day, when Houyi was out, Chang'e secretly swallowed the potion in the hope that she would become immortal2. The result was quite unexpected: she felt herself becoming light, so light that she flew up in spite of herself, drifting and floating in the air, until she reached the palace of the moon.

 

She is regarded by later generations as the goddess of the moon.

 

This beautiful story has always been liked by the Chinese and provides a favourite allusion6 for poets and writers.

 

Chairman Mao Zedong's poem in memory of his martyred wife Yang Kaihui has these well-known lines:

 

The lonely moon goddess spreads her ample sleeves

 

To dance for these loyal souls in infinite space.

 

Here, in the Chinese original, the name Chang'e is used instead of "moon goddess".

 

The figure of Chang'e, a beauty dressed in the elegant garments of a bygone age floating towards the moon, naturally supplies unending inspiration for painters and sculptors7.


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