The Everlasting Longing
The beauty-loving monarch longed year after year
To find a beautiful lady without a peer.
A maiden of the Yangs to womanhood just grown,
In inner chambers bred, to the world was unknown.
Endowed with natural beauty too hard to hide,
She was chosen one day to be the monarch’s bride.
Turning her head, she smiled so sweet and full of grace
That she outshone in six palaces the fairest face.
She bathed in glassy water of Warm-fountain Pool
Which laved and smoothed her creamy skin when spring was cool
Without her maids’ support, she was too tired to move,
And this was when she first received the monarch’s love,
Flower-like face and cloud-like hair, golden-headdressed.
In lotus-adorned curtain she spent the night blessed.
She slept till the sun rose high for the blessed night was short,
From then on the monarch held no longer morning court.
In revels as in feasts she shared her lord’s delight,
His companion on trips and his mistress at night.
In inner palace dwelt three thousand ladies fair,
On her alone was lavished royal love and care.
Her beauty served the night when dressed up in Golden Bower,
She was drunk with wine and spring at banquet in Jade Tower.
Her sisters and brothers all received rank and fief,
And honors showered on her household, to the grief
Of fathers and mothers who would rather give birth
To a fair maiden than to any son on earth,
The lofty palace towered high into the cloud;
With divine music borne on the breeze the air was loud.
Seeing slow dance and hearing fluted or stringed song,
The emperor was never tired the whole day long.
But rebels beat their war drums, making the earth quake
And “Song of Rainbow Skirt and Coat of Feathers” break,
A cloud of dust was raised o’er city walls nine-fold;
Thousands of chariots and horsemen southwestward rolled.
Imperial flags moved slowly now and halted then.
And thirty miles from Western Gate they stopped again.
Six armies-what could be done-would not march with speed
Unless fair Lady Yang be killed before the steed.
None would pick up her hairpin fallen on the ground
Nor golden bird nor comb with which her head was crowned.
The monarch could not save her and hid his face in fear;
Turning his head, he saw her blood mix with his tear.
The yellow dust widespread, the wind blew desolate;
A serpentine plank path led to cloud-capped Sword Gate.
Below the Eyebrow Mountains wayfarers were few;
In fading sunlight royal standards lost their hue,
On Western water blue and Western mountains green
The monarch’s heart was daily gnawed by sorrow keen.
The moon viewed from his tent shed a soul-searing light;
The bells heard in night rain made a heart-rending sound.
Suddenly turned the tide. Returning from his flight,
The monarch could not tear himself away from the ground
Where’ mid the clouds beneath the Slope he couldn’t forget
The fair-faced Lady Yang who was unfairly slain.
He looked at his courtiers, with tears his robe was wet;
They rode east to the capital but with loose rein.
Come back, he found her pond and garden in old place,
With lotus in the lake and willows by the hall,
Willow leaves like her brows and lotus like her face,
At the sight of all these, how could his tears not fall?
Or when in vernal breeze were peach and plum full-blown
Or when in autumn rain parasol leaves were shed?
In Western as in Southern Court was grass o’ergrown;
With fallen leaves unswept the marble steps turned red,
Actors, although still young, began to have hair grey.
Eunuchs and waiting maids looked old in palace deep.
Fireflies flitting the hall, mutely he pined away;
The lonely lampwick bumed out, still he could not sleep.
Slowly beat drums and rang bells, night began to grow long;
Bright shone the Starry Stream, daybreak seemed to come late,
The lovebird tiles grew chilly with hoar frost so strong;
His kingfisher quilt was cold, not shared by a mate.
One long, long year the dead with the living was parted;
Her soul came not in dreams to see the broken-hearted.
A taoist sorcerer came to the palace door,
Skilled to summon the spirits from the other shore.
Moved by the monarch’s yearning for the departed fair,
He was ordered to seek for her everywhere.
Borne on the air, like flash of lightning flew;
In heaven and on earth he searched through and through.
Up to the azure vault and down to deepest place,
Nor above nor below could he e’er find her trace.
He learned that on the sea were fairy mountains proud,
Which now appeared now disappeared amid the cloud
Of rainbow colors, where rose magnificent bowers
And dwelt so many fairies as graceful as flowers.
Among them was a queen whose name was Eyer True;
Her snow-white skin and sweet face might afford a clue,
Knocking at western gate of palace hall, he bade
The fair porter to inform the queen’s waiting maid,
When she heard that there came the monarch’s embassy,
The queen was startled out of dreams in her canopy.
Pushing aside the pillow, she rose and got dressed,
Passing through silver screen and pearl shade to meet the guest.
Her cloud-like hair awry, not full awake at all,
Her flowery cap slanted, she came into the hall.
The wind blew up her fairy sleeves and made them float
As if she danced still “Rainbow Skirt and Feathered Coat.”
Her jade-white face crisscrossed with tears in lonely world
Like a spray of pear blossoms in spring rain impearled.
She bade him thank her lord, lovesick and broken-hearted;
They knew nothing of each other after they parted,
Love and happiness long ended within palace walls;
Days and nights appeared long in the Fairyland halls.
Turning her head and fixing on the earth her gaze,
She found no capital’ mid clouds of dust and haze.
To show her love was deep, she took out keepsakes old
For him to carry back, hairpin and case of gold.
Keeping one side of the case and one wing of the pin;
She sent to her lord the other half of the twin.
“If our two hearts as finn as the gold should remain,
In heaven or on earth some time we’ll meet again,”
At parting, she confided to the messenger
A secret vow known only to her lord and her.
On seventh day of seventh moon when none was near,
At midnight in Long Life Hall he whispered in her ear:
“On high, we’d be two birds flying wing to wing;
On earth, two trees with branches twined from spring to spring.”
The boundless sky and endless earth may pass away,
But this vow unfulfilled will be regretted for aye.
This long poem relates the life-and-death love story of Emperor Xuan Zong in the Tang Dynasty and his favorite Lady Yang Yuhuan.
The Long Hate Song is a long narrative poem written by Bai Juyi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The poem can be divided into three main stanzas, from “The Han emperor’s love for the kingdom” to “The song of the neon dress”, the first stanza is about the love life of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and Yang Guifei, the effects of their love, and the resulting desolation and chaos of the state and the outbreak of the An-Shi Rebellion. The second stanza, from “the smoke and dust of the nine-fold city” to “the soul never comes to the dream”, is about the mutiny at Mawei Stage, the murder of Yang Guifei, and the fact that afterwards, Tang Xuanzong thinks about Yang Guifei and is deeply in love with her. The third stanza, from “The Daoist priest of Linqiong, Hongdu Guest” to “This hatred is endless”, consists of forty-six lines, in which the Tang Emperor sends people to search for Yang Guifei everywhere and her meeting with the Tang Emperor’s emissaries at Penglai Palace.
The central idea of “The Song of the Long Hatred” is to criticize Tang Xuanzong for misleading the country with sex, which led to the An-shi Rebellion, and at the same time to sympathize with the tragedy of love between Tang Xuanzong and Yang Guifei, and to praise their undying love. The artistry of the poem is high. One of them is the selection and use of the original historical materials. Tang Xuanzong is both the maker and the bearer of tragedy. When writing about their sinful side, the poet pays attention to the point and tries not to damage their image too much, thus ensuring the harmony and unity before and after the tragic story. The second is the addition of romance to the story. Love can make the living die and the dead live, and such a power has not been depicted before. The third is the wonderful description of the characters and their psychological activities. The fourth is the positive portrayal of the pain of separation and love for each other, which not only occupies a large space, but also has many perspectives and variations. The fifth is the exquisite language, which is not only vivid, graphic and condensed, but also polite, fluent and rhythmic, making people recite it endlessly. Bai Park’s miscellaneous drama “Tang Ming Huang’s Autumn Night Wutong Rain” in Yuan Dynasty, Wu Shimei’s legend “The Story of the Surprise” in Ming Dynasty, and Hong Sheng’s legend “The Palace of Eternal Youth” in Qing Dynasty were all inspired by “The Song of the Long Hatred” in their conception, which shows its profound influence.