The Emperor was obsessed with love, craving for a woman of peerless beauty.Having been on the throne for many years, the Emperor, however, failed to find such a beauty.
A little girl of the Yang family had just grown up.Living in an inner chamber, this lady was hardly known to the public.
With her lovely form and features granted by heaven and impossible to be concealed,She was one day chosen for the imperial household.
When she turned and smiled, the beauty cast her spell with enchanting gestures,Overshadowing all other beautiful concubines in the royal court.
During a chilly springtime, the Emperor gave edict granting her to have a bath in Flower Pure Pool,Where warm, creamy-tinted spring water washed her delicate skin.
While the maids were trying to support her out of the pool, her figure showed languor and weariness.That was the time when she had just won the Emperor’s favor.
The favored concubine had cloudy hair, flowery features, and gold hairpins swinging with every movement she made.She spent wonderful nights with the Emperor within the cosy canopy with hibiscus motifs.
Every admirable night was too short, so they didn’t get up till the sun was shining high in the sky.The Emperor, from that time forth, forsook his morning audience.
The concubine lavished all her time on seeking the Emperor’s pleasure and serving him at feasts.She would accompany the Emperor to spring outings and sleep with him night after night.
There were three thousand charming concubines in the royal court.But all the Emperor’s favors to these three thousand were conferred on her only.
She would refine her appearance and dress up in Golden Chamber before serving the Emperor for the night.When she retreated from revels held in Jade Tower, she would be slightly drunk, projecting an air of the spring.
The concubine’s sisters and brothers were all given titles,Which glorified and honored her family.
This dissipated an ancient prejudice held by every family throughout the empire.Parents desired to have girls rather than boys.
Li Palace soared high up into the blue clouds.Far and wide, the breeze carried the melodious notes floating out of the palace.
Mellow melodies and soft dances mingled with the tunes played on silk and bamboo instruments.The Emperor indulged in these enchanting feasts day after day, but he could never see enough of them.
Disaster overtook the empire when war drums, booming from Yuyang, shocked the whole earth,Completely ruining the melody titled Rainbow Skirt and Feathered Coat.
Smoke was rising from the imperial palace looming in the dust,While tens of thousands of fleeing horses and carriages were heading southwest.
The sumptuously decorated imperial carriage wobbled along the way, now moving and now pausing,Till it was brought to a halt somewhere over one hundred miles from the western gate of the capital.
The imperial guards refused to continue the journey, leaving the Emperor no choiceBut to give an edict to have his beloved concubine hanged, who wrinkled her eyebrows and died in front of the horse-driven imperial carriage.
Her decorated hairpins fell to the ground, but no one picked them up.Hair decorations, Curved Jade and Gold Siskin, and jade hairpins were all scattered about.
While she was dying, the Emperor could do nothing but cover his face.Later, when he turned around to take a look, blood and tears started rolling down his cheeks.
Yellow dust billowed in the air while the cold wind was hissing.Along the narrow paths planked over cliffs, the fleeing royalty meandered their way to Dagger Tower.
Very few people were spotted passing the foot of Emei Mountain.Flags and banners lost their glories against the declining sun.
Although the rivers of Shu were blue and the mountains green,The Emperor was still possessed by the memory of his lost love, either day or night.
While dwelling in the temporary palace, he felt inexpressibly sad at the sight of the moon.Also, he felt profound anguish whenever he heard the sound of jingling bells amid a night rain.
After the uprising was subdued and peace restored, the Emperor embarked on the journey back home. But, upon reaching the heart-breaking place, the Emperor lingered, totally unwilling to leave.
From the soil along the Mawei slope, There was not a sight of his charming concubine, but the grave where her remains rested.
The Emperor and his officials looked at one another, dissolving in tears that wet their robes.Facing eastward toward the gate of the palace, they went on horseback travelling back home in a leisurely way.
When they returned, they found the pools and the gardens were all just as before.And the hibiscus in Lake Taiye and willows in Weiyang Palace also remained unchanged.
The hibiscus flowers served as a reminder of the concubine’s face and the willow leaves her eyebrows. What could the Emperor do but weep when he looked at them?
The sight of peach trees and plum trees blossoming in the spring wind.And deciduous Chinese parasol trees losing their leaves amid autumn rain stirred the emotions of the Emperor’s lost lover.
West Palace and South Palace were covered with autum grass,And the steps were blanketed with red leaves, which no one swept away.
Ensemble musicians’ hair had been frosted not long earlier.Eunuchs and waiting maids who used to serve in the concubine’s palace were greatly aged.
Over the throne flew fire-flies while the Emperor brooded in the twilight.He still could not fall asleep even though the lonely lamp near by had run out of oil.
Bells tolled and drums rolled before the dragging night hours.And the River of Stars grew sharp in the sky, just before dawn.
The mandarin-duck roof titles were covered with a thick blanket of frost in the cold.And the Emperor’s sumptuous quilt could not keep him warm, for there was no one he could sleep with.
The separation between life and death had kept them apart almost for one year,Yet no beloved spirit ever visited the Emperor’s dreams.
A Taoist priest from Lingqiong visited the capital,Who was able to summon spirits through his concentrated mind.
The priest was so moved by the Emperor’s lasting attachment for his lost concubineThat he besought other sorcerers to spare no efforts to help find her.
He mounted the clouds and rode the mist, flying as fast as lightning,And searching everywhere, up to heaven and down to earth.
High up, the priest searched heaven, or Green Void; down below, he looked carefully under the earth, or Yellow Spring.But, in either place, he searched in vain for the concubine.
Later, he heard accounts of an enchanted isle at sea,Which was shrouded in clouds and mist, with an air of mystery.
On the isle, there existed exquisite pavilions and fine towers among five-colored coulds,Where many divine beauties with shapely figures dwelled.
One of them was by the name of The Ever True, who had skin white as snow and appearance as beautiful as flowers.She was more than likely the one the priest was looking for.
So he went to the west chamber of the golden pavilion and knocked at its jasper door.He then asked the girl called Cute Jade, who answered the door, to send word to the divine beauty living inside.
Upon hearing that a envoy from the Emperor was waiting outside,The beauty was startled out of sleep in her sumptuously decorated canopy.
She pushed aside her pillow, dressed herself, and paced back and forth.Then she walked out along rows of jewelled blinds and silver screens.
Her cloudy hair slanted because of her great haste.And her flowery crown was loose as she came along the terrace.
A light wind filled her cloak making it flutter in the air.The divine beauty seemed to be dancing to the tune of Rainbow Skirt and Feathered Coat.
Tear drops drifted down her sad, delicate face,A scene resembling a spring rain drizzling down on a pear tree blossom.
With love glowing deep within her eyes, the divine beauty gazed at the priest and expressed her appreciation for the Emperor,Whose face and voice had been strange to her ever since their parting.
The conjugal love between them at the Hall of Bright Sun had already ended.But the days in her Fairy Mountain Palace seemed to be passing quite slowly.
When she turned to looked down at the earth,What she could see was only fog and dust, rather than the capital Chang An.
So the divine beauty took out old objects she regarded as a pledge of love.And, through the envoy, she sent back a shell box and a gold hairpin to the Emperor
She kept one branch of the hairpin and one side of the boxBy tearing apart the hairpin and breaking the shell box.
She wanted the Emperor to make his attachment for her as firm as the gold hairpin and shell box,For they shall surely meet again somewhere either on earth or in heaven.
When the priest was leaving, she told him, time and again,To remind the Emperor of the vow known only to their two hearts:
On the seventh day of the seventh month, in the Palace of Long Life,We made a secret vow at midnight
That we would fly in the sky wing to wing as two inseparable birds,Or grow together on the earth as two branches on one tree.”
Earth endures and heaven lasts, but they both shall perish, While this poignant sorrow will go on and on forever.