长恨歌 The song of everlasting regret
The song of everlasting regret
The beauty-loving monarch longed year after year
To find a beautiful lady without peer.
A maiden of the Yang’s to womanhood just grown,
In inner chambers bred, to the world was unknown.
Endowed with natural beauty too hard to hide,
One day she stood selected for the monarch’s side.
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.
Upborne by her attendants, she rose too faint to move,
And this was when she first received the monarch’s love.
Flowerlike face and cloudlike hair, golden-headdressed,
In lotus-flower curtain she spent the night blessed.
She slept till 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 in Golden Bower
Or drunk with wine and spring at banquet in Jade Tower.
All her sisters and brothers received rank and fief
And honours showered on her household, to the grief
Of the fathers and mothers who’d rather give birth
To a fair maiden than any son on earth.
The lofty palace towered high into blue cloud,
With wind-borne music so divine 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 would not march -- what could be done? -- with speed
Until the Lady Yang was killed before the steed.
Written by Bai Juyi
Translated by Xu Yuanchong