Monday, October 17, 2011

Yang Guifei


First image is of actress Yin Tao who plays Yang Guifei in the Chinese TV drama "Secret Anecdotes of Yang Guifei". Also set to be released as a movie in 2012. Second image via wikipedia.

Written in 806 AD by Bai Ju-Yi (白居易), The Song of Everlasting Regret (長恨歌) is among the most popular poems from the Tang Dynasty. The poem depicts the tragedy between Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (唐玄宗) and Yang Guifei (楊貴妃) during the Anshi Rebellion (安史之亂) in 755 AD. The poem contains a total of 120 verses. This translation is a more liberal and rhyming one. A more direct translation is available at Wikipedia.

長恨歌 (白居易)
The Song of Everlasting Regret (Bai Ju-Yi, 772-846 AD, China) Ying Sun © 2008
漢皇重色思傾國,
御宇多年求不得。
楊家有女初長成,
養在深閨人未識。
天生麗質難自棄,
一朝選在君王側。
回眸一笑百媚生,
六宮粉黛無顏色。 The Emperor of China longed for a beauty able to topple the empire.
Despite many years of reign he could not fulfill his desire.
Meanwhile, a lass in the Yang family had reached puberty.
As she was raised deep in her boudoir, no one knew her beauty.
Her heavenly glamour could not be concealed forever.
One day she was chosen to entertain the Emperor.
When she turned and smiled, the coquetry created was tremendous,
Rendering all concubines of the six palaces lusterless.
春寒賜浴華清池,
溫泉水滑洗凝脂;
侍兒扶起嬌無力,
始是新承恩澤時。
雲鬢花顏金步搖,
芙蓉帳暖度春宵;
春宵苦短日高起,
從此君王不早朝。 She was privileged to bathe in Hua-Qing Spa on a cold day of spring,
Washing her creamy skin with slippery water of the warm spring.
As she was languorous, a maid helped her out of the spa.
This was when they first mated, the beginning of a saga.
Her cloud-like hair was held by a gold hairpin, her face flowery.
They spent the night under the warmth of a hibiscus canopy.
They rose with the sun up high, complaining of the night too short.
From this day on the Emperor missed each and every morning court.
承歡侍宴無閑暇,
春從春遊夜專夜。
後宮佳麗三千人,
三千寵愛在一身。
金屋妝成嬌侍夜,
玉樓宴罷醉和春。
姊妹弟兄皆列土,
可憐光彩生門戶。 Between revels and banquets the Emperor was fully occupied.
Every spring day they toured and by night they copulated.
All three thousand concubines in the rear palaces were ignored.
On only one person was the royal affection concentrated.
In her Gold Chamber she dressed up and entertained the Emperor,
Indulging in inebriety and coition after every feast at Jade Tower.
All her sisters and brothers had royal demesnes granted.
Imperial but pitiful glory on the Yang family was bestowed.
遂令天下父母心,
不重生男重生女。
驪宮高處入青雲,
仙樂風飄處處聞。
緩歌慢舞凝絲竹,
盡日君王看不足。
漁陽鼙鼓動地來,
驚破霓裳羽衣曲。 On the mindset of all parents her success was a strong influence.
Baby girls instead of baby boys became the popular preference.
Li Palace rose upright, high into the atmosphere.
Devine music carried by the wind was heard everywhere.
Strings and pipes accompanied soft songs and slow dances.
Day after day the Emperor could not get enough of these.
One day the war drums from Yuyang came and shook the ground,
Interrupting the tune of the Rainbow Dress and Feather Gown.
九重城闕煙塵生,
千乘萬騎西南行。
翠華搖搖行復止,
西出都門百餘里;
六軍不發無奈何?
宛轉蛾眉馬前死。
花鈿委地無人收,
翠翹金雀玉搔頭。 From inside the nine-tier imperial walls dust clouds originated.
Thousands of wagons moved southwest as the monarch retreated.
When they paraded, the imperial banner waved and led the way.
Suddenly the troops halted west of the capital just thirty miles away.
All six regiments refused to march, rendering the Emperor powerless.
Her execution in front of the steeds was torturous and hopeless.
The scatter of her precious jewelry on the ground added to the sorrow.
Among them was a green jade comb with a decorative gold sparrow.
君王掩面救不得,
回看血淚相和流。
黃埃散漫風蕭索,
雲棧縈紆登劍閣。
峨嵋山下少人行,
旌旗無光日色薄。
蜀江水碧蜀山青,
聖主朝朝暮暮情。 Refrained from saving her, the Emperor covered his face.
Tears dropped like her blood shed as he turned to gaze.
The chilly wind facilitated the yellow dust to propagate.
Via torturous trails in the cloud they crossed the Sword Gate.
Beneath Mount Emei travelers were hardly seen.
The imperial banner lost its gleam in the sunset scene.
But Shu rivers remained blue and Shu mountains green.
Day in and day out His Majesty’s eternal love grew keen.
行宮見月傷心色,
夜雨聞鈴腸斷聲。
天旋地轉迴龍馭,
到此躊躇不能去。
馬嵬坡下泥土中,
不見玉顏空死處。
君臣相顧盡霑衣,
東望都門信馬歸。 Viewing the moon in the temporary palace escalated sadness.
Hearing wind charms in rainy nights deepened brokenheartedness.
Finally the rebellion was suppressed and the monarchy reinstated.
As they returned to the very spot, the Emperor hesitated.
Under the Mawei Slope he searched in the mud,
But failed to find any trace where she shed her blood.
The Emperor and his ministers all wept in a gloomy state.
Their horses took them eastwards, back to the capital gate.
歸來池苑皆依舊,
太液芙蓉未央柳;
芙蓉如面柳如眉,
對此如何不淚垂?
春風桃李花開日,
秋雨梧桐葉落時。
西宮南內多秋草,
落葉滿階紅不掃。 Upon return, the ponds and gardens seemed like old days,
Hibiscus by Lake Taiye and willows by Weiyang Palace.
Her face resembled a hibiscus, her eyebrows willow leaves.
Viewing these, how could he stop the tears down his face?
When vernal breeze blew, peach trees blossomed all around.
When autumn rain came, plane tree leaves fell on the ground.
Autumn weeds grew tall in the West and South Palaces.
No one swept those stairs covered by the red leaves.
梨園子弟白髮新,
椒房阿監青娥老。
夕殿螢飛思悄然,
孤燈挑盡未成眠。
遲遲鐘鼓初長夜,
耿耿星河欲曙天。
鴛鴦瓦冷霜華重,
翡翠衾寒誰與共? The hairs of the royal opera players looked whiter.
The pretty maids of the Empress’ Palace grew older.
Fireflies flew over the hall as he meditated in twilight.
The lamp wick burned out as he stayed awake all night.
The hourly bell and drum always seemed late in the long night.
The Milky Way projected its glow to bring out the twilight.
Heavy frost made the cold ceramic tiles on the roof seem bright.
Under the cold green comfort, with whom could he spend the night?
悠悠生死別經年,
魂魄不曾來入夢。
臨邛道士鴻都客,
能以精誠致魂魄;
為感君王輾轉思,
遂教方士殷勤覓。
排空馭氣奔如電,
升天入地求之遍; Many years had gone by since the life and death separation.
Yet not even in his dream did he meet her incarnation.
A Taoist from Lingqiong was in the capital for a visitation,
Capable of summoning spirits with his eldritch concentration.
The Taoist was deeply moved by Emperor's constant yearning.
To find her incarnation, he engaged an exhaustive searching.
He moved through ether, traveled as fast as lightning.
Nowhere in the air or on the earth was he not seeking.
上窮碧落下黃泉,
兩處茫茫皆不見。
忽聞海上有仙山,
山在虛無縹緲間。
樓閣玲瓏五雲起,
其中綽約多仙子。
中有一人字太真,
雪膚花貌參差是。 Up in heaven and down to hell he went.
Both places were hazy, failing his intent.
Then he heard an enchanted mountain at sea,
Floating in the mist that no one could see.
Adorned towers rose above five-colored clouds,
Where many beautiful fairies gathered in crowds.
Among them was the one named Taizhen.
Same flowery face and silky skin were reborn again.
金闕西廂叩玉扃,
轉教小玉報雙成。
聞道漢家天子使,
九華帳裡夢魂驚;
攬衣推枕起徘徊,
珠箔銀屏迤邐開。
雲鬢半偏新睡覺,
花冠不整下堂來。 Under the gold gate of West Hall he knocked on the jade door.
From Xiaoyu to Shuangcheng the call was sent to her floor.
A messenger from the Emperor waiting was Taizhen told,
As she was wakened in the flowery canopy, quite startled.
She put on her gown, pushed away the pillow, and wandered around.
Then, through the pearl shade and silver screen she came down.
As she just woke up, her cloud-like hair was still pushed aside.
She entered the anteroom with her flowery crown hanging awry.
風吹仙袂飄飄舉,
猶似霓裳羽衣舞。
玉容寂寞淚闌干,
梨花一枝春帶雨。
含情凝睇謝君王,
一別音容兩渺茫。
昭陽殿裡恩愛絕,
蓬萊宮中日月長。 With sleeves waving in the wind, she was like a goddess at a glance,
As if she were in the Rainbow Dress and Feather Gown dance.
Loneliness appeared on her pretty face with tear stain,
Like a blossom on a pear tree after a spring rain.
With affection in her eyes she thanked for Emperor’s indulgence.
Ever since they’re parted, she missed his voice and appearance.
Their passion in Zhaoyang Palace was long ended.
Her solitary life in Penglai Temple had just started.
回頭下望人寰處,
不見長安見塵霧。
唯將舊物表深情,
鈿合金釵寄將去。
釵留一股合一扇,
釵擘黃金合分鈿。
但教心似金鈿堅,
天上人間會相見。 She turned and looked down toward the mortal world,
Not a glimpse of the capital, just dust and cloud.
She took out some old gifts, showing her nostalgic feeling,
A gold hairpin and an inlaid case to renew the pledging.
She kept one branch of the hairpin and one side of the box,
As she split the hairpin and broke in half the box.
“Let our pledge be as strong as the inlaid and the gold.”
“We will reunite, if not in heaven, in the mortal world.”
臨別殷勤重寄詞,
詞中有誓兩心知,
七月七日長生殿,
夜半無人私語時。
在天願作比翼鳥,
在地願為連理枝。
天長地久有時盡,
此恨綿綿無絕期。 She asked the messenger to bring back a verse with a clue.
There was a vow in the verse only the two of them knew.
On a Valentine’s Day in Longevity Hall away from the crowd,
At midnight when no one else was around, they vowed.
“Let’s be two birds in the sky flying side by side.”
“Let’s be two branches on the earth inseparably tied.”
The sky and the earth will not be eternal, however.
Only this regret remains and lasts for ever and ever.

5 comments:

kenza said...

Oh this is absolutely beautiful... I love the image of the sun waking up thinking the night was too short. The colors, the textures, amazing...

natsumi nishizumi said...

I like her dress... beautiful!!

Young Geoffrion said...

Thank you for your wonderful post, Yoli. In 1991 the woman I was later to marry and share a wonderful life with invited me to Xi'an to work on a screenplay called Ring of Jade, about the life and loves of Yang Guifei, Tang Ming Huang, An Lushan and the poet Li Bai. The Song of Eternal Regret guided much of our work. I brought along Nicole Vidale, the only woman to have written a novel in a Western language about the life of Yang Guifei, or Yang Yuhuan (Ring of Jade), and
Gabriele Polverosi, the first assistant director to Bertolucci's The Last Emperor. We explored all the ruins of Xi'an, visited the Huaqing Hot Springs (華清池), at the foot of Mt. Lishan, where she bathed; the excavated ruins of the Da Ming Palace. We interviewed historians and archaeologists from Xi'an museums and universities about every aspect of the Yang Guifei story. I was there as a translator, speaking Chinese and French and a little Japanese (the film had Japanese sponsors), my future wife Jia Lu as artistic director and guide, and the screenplay largely in the hands of Nicole and Gabriele, but we made up a small team of four very happy people trying to recreate that age over the span of a couple of weeks. The film was never made, but it remains one of the brightest points in my life. I came home with a love for Tang poetry, a deep appreciation for Buddhism (taking refuge in it a few years later) and profoundly changed life.

Yoli said...

YG what a beautiful story! Thank you for stopping by and sharing it with me.

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

LOVE the new banner!!! So beautiful!!