Translation:Song of Everlasting Regret

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The Song of Everlasting Regret
by Bai Juyi, translated from Chinese by Wikisource
Composed by Bai Juyi in the year 806, The Song of Everlasting Regret (or Sorrow) details the events surrounding the death of the lady Yang Guifei during the Anshi Rebellion in 755. Yang Guifei was the beloved concubine of the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang.

Lines 1 - 50[edit]

Original Pinyin Yüt6ping3 Translation
cháng hèn gē chöng4 hun6 gor The Song of Everlasting Regret
傾國 Hàn huáng zhòng sè sī qīngguó, Hon3 wong4 joong6 sik si king gwok3, A certain emperor of the Han dynasty[1] placed a premium on his dalliances, and longed for a woman so beautiful, that he might be tempted to ignore his duties at court, and thus bring about the downfall of his empire.[2]
御宇多年不得 yùyǔ duōnián qiú bùdé. yü6 yü5 dor nin4 kuu4 but duk. He ruled his empire for many years without finding such a beauty.
Yáng jiā yǒu nǚ chū zhǎng chéng, Yöng4 ga yuu5 nöi2 chor jöng2 sing4, There was a girl of the house of Yang who had just come of age.
深閨 yǎng zài shēnguī rén wèi shí. yöng5 joi6 sum gwui yun4 mei6 sik. She had been brought up in the women's chambers, and was not yet known to the outside world.
天生麗質自棄 tiānshēng lìzhì nán zìqì, tin saang lui6 jut naan4 ji6 hei3, Her natural beauty and lovely comportment were difficult to ignore,
君王 yī zhāo xuǎn zài jūnwáng cè. yut jiu sün2 joi6 gwun wong4 juk. One day, she was selected to stand at the side of His Majesty.
回眸一笑 huímóuyīxiào bǎi mèi shēng, wooi4 tuu4 yut siu3 baak3 mei4 sung, She could melt one's heart with her coquettish smile,
六宮粉黛顏色 liùgōng fěndài wú yánsè. look6 goong fun2 doi6 mou4 ngaan4 sik. All of the powdered faces of the ladies in waiting from the six palaces paled in comparison.
華清池 chūn hán cì yù Huáqīngchí, chön hon4 chi3 yook6 wa4 ching chi4, On a cold spring day, he bestowed upon her the honor of bathing with him at the Huaqing pools,[3]
According to legend, this is the pool that was used by Yang Guifei and the emperor.
溫泉凝脂 wēnquán shuǐ huá xǐ níngzhī. wun chün4 söi2 waat6 sui2 ying4 ji, The waters of the hot springs were smooth, and washed over her pale white skin.
侍兒無力 shìér fú qǐ jiāo wúlì, si6 yi4 foo4 hei2 giu mou4 lik6, The palace maids helped her to leave the pool, because she was too delicate and lacked strength.
恩澤 shǐ shì xīn chéng ēnzé shí. chi2 si6 sun sing4 yun jaak6 si4. This was when she began to receive the emperor's advances.
雲鬢花顏金步搖 yúnbìn huāyán jīnbùyáo, wun4 bun3 fa ngaan4 gum bou6 yiu4, She had dark black hair, and the face of a flower, with golden jewelry dangling from her hair.
芙蓉 fúróng zhàng nuǎn dù chūn xiāo. foo4 yoong4 jöng3 nün5 dou6 chön siu, They spent the spring nights in the warmth of a hibiscus tent.
chūn xiāo kǔ duǎn rì gāo qǐ, chön siu foo2 dün2 yut6 gou hei2, They lamented that the spring nights were all too short, and did not rise until long after the sun had come out.
從此君王早朝 cóngcǐ jūnwáng bù zǎozhāo. choong4 chi2 gwun wong4 but jou2 chiu4. From this point on, His Majesty did not attend the morning court.
閒暇 chéng huān shì yàn wú xiánxiá, sing4 foon si6 yin3 mou4 haan4 ha4, She spent her days pleasing the emperor and accompanying him to banquets. She had no free time.
chūn cóng chūn yóu yè zhuān yè. chön choong4 chön yuu4 ye6 jün ye6. In the springtime, she accompanied him on his outings, and would share his bed night after night.
佳麗 hòu gōng jiālì sān qiān rén, huu6 goong gaai lui saam chin yun4, Although there were 3,000 beauties in the inner palace,
寵愛一身 sān qiān chǒngài zài yīshēn. saam chin choong2 ngoi3 joi6 yut sun. He placed the love of 3,000 all on her alone.
金屋 jīnwū zhuāng chéng jiāo shì yè, gum ook jong sing4 giu si6 ye6, After she finished putting on her makeup in the golden house, she was a bundle of charm[4] as she accompanied His Majesty in the evenings.
玉樓 yùlóu yàn bà zuì hé chūn. yook6 lui4 yin3 ba6 jöi3 wor4 chön. She was drunk with alcohol and springtime after the banquets at the jade mansion.
姊妹弟兄列土 zǐmèi dìxiōng jiē liètǔ, ji2 mooi6 dui6 hing gaai lit6 tou2, All of her brothers and sisters were granted land,
可憐光彩門戶 kělián guāngcǎi shēng ménhù. hor2 lin4 gwong choi2 sung moon4 woo6, This enviable splendor breathed new life into their family status.
天下父母 suì lìng tiānxià fùmǔ xīn, söi6 ling6 tin ha6 foo6 mou5 sum This, in turn, caused the thinking of parents everywhere to change.
bú zhòng shēng nán zhòng shēng nǚ. but joong6 saang naam4 joong6 saang nöi5. They no longer held boy babies in high esteem, but began to prize girl babies.
驪宮高處青雲 Lígōng gāochù rù qīngyún, Lei4 Goong gou chü3 yup6 ching wun, The high spots of Mount Li Palace[5] entered into the azure clouds.
仙樂處處 xiānyuè fēng piāo chùchù wén. sin ngok6 foong piu chü3 chü3 mun4. Heavenly music floated on the winds; it could be heard everywhere.
絲竹 huǎn gē màn wǔ níng sīzhú, woon6 gor maan6 mou5 ying4 si jook, The slow songs and rhythmic dancing blended seamlessly with the orchestra.
君王不足 jìn rì jūnwáng kàn bùzú. jön6 yut6 gwun wong4 hon3 but jook. His Majesty could watch all day long, and still not get enough of it.
漁陽 Yúyáng pí gǔ dòng dì lái, Yü4 Yöng4 pei4 gwoo2 doong6 dei6 loi4, The sound of the war drums from Yuyang began to shake the earth,[6]
霓裳羽衣曲 jīng pò Níchángyǔyīqǔ. ging por3 ngui4 söng4 yü5 yi cook. And broke the spell of the Song of rainbow skirts and feather robes.
九重城闕煙塵 jiǔchóngchéngquè yānchén shēng, guu2 choong4 sing4 küt3 yin chun4 sung, Smoke and dust descended upon the nine layered watchtowers of the imperial palace,
千乘萬騎西南 qiānshèngwànjì xī'nán xíng. chin sing3 maan6 kei3 sui naam4 hung4. As a thousand chariots and a myriad horsemen sped to the southwest.
翠華 cuìhuá yáo yáo xíng fù zhǐ, chöi3 wa4 yiu4 yiu4 hung4 fook6 ji2. The jade ornaments adorning the imperial banners rocked back and forth as the emperor's chariot moved forward then stopped again,
西都門 xī chū dūmén bǎi yú lǐ. sui chöt dou moon4 baak3 yü4 lei5, Traveling more than one hundred li from the western gate of the capital.
奈何 liù jūn bù fā wú nàihé, look6 gwun but faat3 mou4 noi6 hor4, The six armies of the emperor refused to advance any further, so the emperor was left without a choice,
宛轉蛾眉 wǎnzhuǎn éméi mǎ qián sǐ. yün2 jün2 Ngor4 Mei4 ma5 chin4 sei2. The writhing fair maiden, whose long and slender eyebrows resembled the feathery feelers of a moth,[7] died in front of the horses.[8]
the pass at Mount Jian
花鈿 huādiàn wěi dì wú rén shōu, fa tin4 wui2 dei6 mou4 yun4 suu, Her ornate headdress fell to the ground, and nobody picked it up;
翠翹金雀玉搔頭 cuìqiáo jīnquè yùsāotóu. chöi3 kiu4 gum jök3 yook6 sou tuu4. Then her kingfisher hair ornament, her gold sparrow hairpin and her jade hair clasp.
君王不得 jūnwáng yǎn miàn jiù bùdé, gwun wong4 yim2 min6 guu3 but duk, His Majesty covered his face, for he could not save her.
huí kàn xuè lèi xiāng huò liú. wooi4 hon3 hüt3 löi6 söng wor4 lui4. Looking back, he saw a stream of blood and tears mixing together.
散漫蕭索 huáng āi sǎnmàn fēng xiāosuǒ, wong4 oi saan3 maan6 foong siu sok3, The yellow dust rising in the air amid a bleak and chilly breeze,
縈紆劍閣 yún zhàn yíngyū dēng Jiàn'gé. wun4 jaan2 ying4 yü dung gim3 gok, The winding wooden walkways high up in the clouds ascend through the pavilions of the pass at Mount Jian.[9]
峨嵋山 Éméishān xià shǎo rén xíng, Ngor4 Mei4 saan ha6 siu2 yun4 hung4, Few people were traveling on the road beneath Mount Emei,[10]
旌旗 jīngqí wú guāng rì sè bó. jing kei4 mou4 gwong yut6 sik bok6. The banners had no luster and the sky was bleak.
Shǔ jiāng shuǐ bì Shǔ shān qīng, Sook6 Gong söi2 bik Sook6 Saan ching, The rivers of Shu were blue, and the mountains of Shu were green,
聖主 shèngzhǔ zhāo zhāo mù mù qíng. sing3 jü2 jiu jiu mou6 mou6 ching4. Our liege lord thought about her night and day.
行宮傷心 xínggōng jiàn yuè shāngxīn sè, hung4 goong gin3 yüt6 söng sum sik, In his temporary palace, he would gaze at the moon, and his facial expression would reveal his broken heart,
腸斷 yè yǔ wén líng chángduàn shēng. ye6 yü5 mun4 ling4 chöng4 dün6 sing. He would hear the wind chimes during an evening rain storm, a sound filled with sorrow.

Lines 51 - 100[edit]

天旋地轉龍馭 tiānxuándìzhuàn huí lóngyù, tin sün4 dei6 jün3 wooi4 loong4 yü6, After the uprising was over, the emperor's dragon chariot returned for him,
Song of Everlasting Regret (China)
capital
capital
Mawei
Mawei
Mount Jian
Mount Jian
Mount Emei
Mount Emei
The emperor's flight from the capital
躊躇不能 dào cǐ chóuchú bùnéng qù. dou3 chi2 chuu4 chü4 but nung4 höi3. Arriving back at this place,[11] he lingered and was unable to leave.
馬嵬坡泥土 Mǎwéipō xià nítǔ zhōng, Ma5 Nguu4 Bor ha6 nui4 tou2 joong, In the dirt at the slopes of Mawei,[12]
bù jiàn yù yán kōng sǐ chù. but gin3 yook6 ngaan4 hoong sei2 chü3. He did not see her face of Jade,[13] he only saw the abandoned place where she had died.
君臣 jūnchén xiāng gù jìn zhān yī, gwun sun4 söng gwoo3 jön6 jim yi, The emperor and his ministers looked at each other and soaked their clothes with tears,
都門 dōng wàng dūmén xìn mǎ guī. doong mong6 dou moon4 sön3 ma5 gwui. Looking to the east at the gates to the capital, they allowed the horses to dictate the pace of their return.
guī lái chí yuàn jiē yījiù, gwui loi4 chi4 yün2 gaai yi guu6, They returned to find the ponds and gardens the same as before,
太液芙蓉未央 Tàiyè fúróng Wèiyāng liǔ. Taai3 Yik6 foo4 yoong4 Mei6 Yöng lui5. The lotus plants of Taiye ponds and the willow trees of Weiyang Palace.[14]
芙蓉 fúróng rú miàn liǔ rú méi, foo4 yoong4 yü4 min6 lui5 yü4 mei4, The lotus plants were like her face and the willow trees were like her eyebrows,
如何 duì cǐ rúhé bù lèi chuí döi3 chi2 yü4 hor4 but löi6 söi4. Upon seeing this, how could he hold back the tears?
chūn fēng táo lǐ huā kāi rì, chön foong tou4 lei5 fa hoi yut6, Gone were the breezy spring days when the peach and plum trees were in bloom,
梧桐 qiū yǔ wútóng yè luò shí. chuu yü5 ng4 toong4 yip6 lok6 si4, Replaced by the autumn rains when the leaves of the Wutong trees had fallen.
西宮南內 Xīgōng Nánnèi duō qiū cǎo, sui goong naam4 noi6 dor chuu chou2, The Western and Southern Palaces[15] were overgrown with autumn grass,
落葉滿 luòyè mǎn jiē hóng bù sǎo. lok6 yip6 moon5 gaai hoong4 but sou3. And nobody swept away the fallen red leaves that piled up on the steps.
梨園子弟 líyuánzǐdì báifà xīn, lei4 yün4 ji2 dui6 baak6 faat3 sun, The performers of the Pear Garden royal opera troop had newly white hair,
椒房阿監青娥 jiāofáng ājiān qīng'é lǎo. jiu fong4 aa3 gaam3 ching ngor4 lou5. At Pepper residence,[16] the eunuchs and palace maids had become old.
殿悄然 xī diàn yíng fēi sī qiǎorán, jik6 din6 ying4 fei si chiu3 yin4, In the evening palace, the fireflies filled the air as he sat in silence, alone with his thoughts,
gū dēng tiǎo jìn wèi chéng mián. gwoo dung tiu jön6 mei6 sing4 min4, The lonely lamp had used up its wicker, yet he still could not sleep.
長夜 chí chí zhōng gǔ chū chángyè, chi4 chi4 joong gwoo2 chor chöng4 ye6, The bells and drums slowly rang out at the start of each watch, marking the beginning of another long night,
gěng gěng xīng hé yù shǔ tiān. gung2 gung2 sing hor4 yook6 chü5 tin. The Milky Way shined brightly, how he longed for day break.
鴛鴦 yuānyang wǎ lěng shuāng huá zhòng, yün yöng ngaa5 laang5 söng wa4 choong5, The mandarin duck tiles were icy, and the frost on them was heavy,
翡翠 fěicuì qīn hán shéi yǔ gòng? fei2 chöi3 kum hon4 söi4 yü5 goong6, The jadeite quilt was cold. After all, who would share it with him?
悠悠 yōuyōu shēng sǐ bié jīng nián, yuu4 yuu4 sung sei2 bit6 ging nin4, The living and the dead became separated one drawn-out year ago,
魂魄不曾入夢 húnpò bùcéng lái rùmèng. wun4 paak3 but chung4 loi4 yup6 moong6. Her soul had not appeared to him in his dreams.
臨邛道士鴻都客 Línqióng dàoshì Hóngdūkè, Lum4 Koong4 dou6 si6 hoong4 dou haak3, A Daoist priest from Linqiong[17] came to the capital[18] as a guest,
精誠魂魄 néng yǐ jīngchéng zhì húnpò. nung4 yi5 jing sing4 ji3 wun4 paak3. He had the ability to use his piety to summon the spirits.
君王輾轉 wèi gǎn jūnwáng zhǎnzhuǎn sī, wui6 gum2 gwun wong4 jin2 jün2 si, He was moved by His Majesty's anguish,
方士殷勤 suì jiào fāngshì yīnqín mì. söi6 gaau3 fong si6 yun kun4 mik6. And because of this, His Majesty eventually prevailed upon the priest to search for her spirit in earnest.
pái kōng yù qì bēn rú diàn, paai4 hoong yü6 hei3 bun yü4 din6, The priest ran like lightning as he parted the skies and rode high through the air,
shēng tiān rù dì qiú zhī biàn. sing tin yup6 dei6 kuu4 ji pin3, He ascended the heavens and down into the earth, looking for her everywhere.
上窮碧落下黃泉 shàng qióng bìluò xià huángquán, söng6 koong4 bik lok6 ha6 wong4 chün4, He searched thoroughly up in the blue beyond, as well as down in the Yellow Springs below the earth,
茫茫不見 liǎng chù mángmáng jiē bújiàn. löng5 chü3 mong4 mong4 gaai but gin3. But did not spot her in the vastness of either place.
海上 hū wén hǎishàng yǒu xiān shān, fut mun5 hoi2 söng6 yuu5 sin saan, Then suddenly, he heard about a mountain of celestial beings that was on the sea,
虛無縹緲 shān zài xūwú-piāomiǎo jiān. saan joi6 höi mou4 piu miu5 gaan. The mountain was in the midst of a vast expanse of haze.
樓閣玲瓏五雲 lóugé línglóng wǔyún qǐ, luu4 gok3 ling4 loong4 ng5 wun4 hei2, A tower rose exquisitely through the vibrant clouds,
其中綽約仙子 qízhōng chuòyuē duō xiānzǐ. kei4 joong chök3 yök3 dor sin ji2. In the tower, there lived a great many celestials who were possessed of a feminine grace.
太真 zhōng yǒu yī rén zì Tàizhēn, joong yuu5 yut yun4 ji6 taai3 jun, Among these was someone with the style name of Tàizhēn,[19]
雪膚參差 xuěfū huā mào cēncī shì. süt3 foo fa maau6 chum chi si6. Who had snow-white skin, and a lovely countenance which more or less matched that of his lost love?
西 jīn què xī xiāng kòu yù jiōng, gum küt3 sui söng kuu3 yook6 gwing2, The priest knocked on the jade door to the western wing of the golden watchtower,
小玉雙成 zhuǎn jiāo Xiǎoyù bào Shuāngchéng. jün2 gaau3 siu2 yook6 bou3 söng sing4, He implored Xiǎoyù to relay a message to Shuāngchéng.[20]
天子使 wén dào Hàn jiā tiānzǐ shǐ, mun4 dou6 hon3 ga tin ji2 si2, Hearing that it was an emissary of the Han family's Son of Heaven,[21]
九華帳 jiǔhuázhàng lǐ mèng hún jīng. guu2 wa4 jöng3 löi5 moong6 wun ging. From inside the resplendent tent, she was startled awake from her dream.
徘徊 lǎn yī tuī zhěn qǐ páihuái, laam2 yi töi jum2 hei2 pooi4 wooi4, Reaching for her robes, and pushing aside her pillow, she began to pace around the room, dazed and confused,
珠箔銀屏迤邐 zhūbó yínpíng yǐlǐ kāi. jü bok6 ngun4 ping4 yi5 lei5 hoi. She then made her way through the pearl lace curtains and the screens of silver.
雲鬢睡覺 yúnbìn bàn piān xīn shuìjiào, wun4 bun3 boon3 pin sun söi6 gaau3, Her hairdo was lopsided, because she had been sleeping just now,
花冠 huāguān bù zhěng xià táng lái. fa gwoon3 but jing2 ha6 tong4 loi4. Her headpiece was not straight as she descended into the main room.
飄飄 fēng chuī xiān mèi piāopiāo jǔ, foong chöi sin mui6 piu piu göi2, A gust of wind caused her celestial sleeves to flutter,
霓裳羽衣舞 yóu sì Níchángyǔyīwǔ. yuu4 chi5 ngui4 söng4 yü5 yi mou5. Just like when she used to perform the Dance of rainbow skirts and feather robes.[22]
玉容寂寞闌干 yùróng jìmò lèi lán'gān, yook6 yoong4 jik6 mok6 löi6 laan4 gon, Her jade countenance was sad, and crisscrossed with tears,
lí huā yī zhī chūn dài yǔ. lei4 fa yut ji chön daai3 yü5. Like a pear blossom bathed in springtime rain.[23]

Lines 101 - end[edit]

含情凝睇君王 hánqíng níngdì xiè jūnwáng, hum4 ching4 ying4 tui2 je6 gwun wong4: Full of emotion, she fixed her gaze on the priest and relayed her thanks to His Majesty,
渺茫 yī bié yīn róng liǎng miǎománg. yut bit6 yum yoong4 löng5 miu5 mong4. But since they last parted, they looked and sounded only vaguely familiar to each other.
昭陽殿恩愛 Zhāoyángdiàn lǐ ēn'ài jué, Chiu Yöng4 Din6 löi5 yun ngoi3 jüt6, The passion that they shared in the Hall of the Bright Sun[24] was now no more,
蓬萊宮日月 Pénglái Gōng zhōng rìyuè cháng. Foong4 Loi4 Goong joong yut 6 yüt6 chöng4. The days and months are now long in Penglai Palace.
回頭人寰 huítóu xià wàng rénhuán chù, wooi4 tuu4 ha6 mong6 yun4 waang4 chü3, Turning back to look down at the places where mortals dwell,[25]
不見長安塵霧 bújiàn Cháng'ān jiàn chénwù. but gin3 Chöng4 On gin3 chun4 mou6. She does not see Chang'an, she only sees dust and mist.
深情 wéi jiāng jiù wù biǎo shēnqíng, wui4 jöng guu6 mut6 biu2 sum ching4, All she could do was to send along some old keepsakes as an expression of her deep affection,
鈿合金釵 diànhé jīnchāi jì jiāng qù. tin4 hup6 gum chaai gei3 jöng höi3. So she sent away the emissary with her inlaid box and golden hairpin.
chāi liú yī gǔ hé yī shàn, chaai luu4 yut gwoo2 hup6 yut sin3, But she kept one part of the hairpin and one leaf of the box,
黃金 chāi bò huángjīn hé fēn diàn. chaai maak3 wong4 gum hup6 fun tin4, From then on, the pieces of the hairpin and the box would be separated.
dàn jiāo xīn sì jīn diàn jiān, daan6 gaau3 sum chi5 gum tin4 gin, But, she left word for His Majesty to remain firm in his devotion to her, just like the firmness of the gold and inlay work,
天上人間相見 tiānshàng rénjiān huì xiāngjiàn. tin söng6 yun4 gaan wooi5 söng gin3. Sooner or later, they will see each other again, whether it be in the heavens beyond or among the mortals on earth.
臨別殷勤 línbié yīnqín chóng jì cí, lum4 bit6 yun kun4 choong4 gei3 chi4, As they were about to part company, she once again implored the priest to pass along a message for her,
cí zhōng yǒu shì liǎng xīn zhī. chi4 joong yuu5 suu6 löng5 sum ji: The message contained a promise that only the two of them would know about.
七月七日長生殿 qīyuè qīrì Chángshēng Diàn, chut yüt6 chut yut6 Chöng4 Sung Din6, On the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, in the Hall of Longevity,[26]
夜半 yèbàn wú rén sī yǔ shí. ye6 boon3 mou4 yun4 si yü5 si4. At midnight, when nobody is around, this is when we will make our secret pact.
zài tiān yuàn zuò bǐ yì niǎo, joi6 tin yün6 jok3 bei2 yik6 niu5, "In the heavens, we vow to be as two birds flying wingtip to wingtip,
zài dì yuàn wéi lián lǐ zhī. joi6 dei6 yün6 wui4 lin4 lei5 ji. On earth, we vow to be as two intertwined branches of a tree."
天長地久 tiānchángdìjiǔ yǒu shí jìn, tin chöng4 dei6 guu2 yuu5 si4 jön6, Even the heaven and earth have their ending times,
綿綿 cǐ hèn mián mián wú jué qí. chi2 hun6 min4 min4 mou4 jüt6 kei4. The regret of our parting will last forever and never end.

Notes[edit]

  1. Han dynasty is a disguise to avoid literary inquisition. It is actually referencing to Tang dynasty. The Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, whose relationship to Yang Guifei brought to mind the Emperor Wu of Han's relationship to his concubine, Consort Li. Bai Juyi would have considered it unpoetic to refer to his subject directly.
  2. Bai Juyi is referring to the story of how Emperor Wu of Han met Consort Li. See: 傾國.
  3. Built in 723, the Huaqing pools was a hot springs in Huaqing Palace (華清宮), which was located atop Mount Li (驪山) in the Qinling Mountains. It was located approximately 25 km to the east of the capital city of Chang'an.
  4. Bai Juyi is making an allusion to a story about the Emperor Wu of Han, who promised to build Empress Chen Jiao a golden house. Bai Juyi is taking advantage of the fact that Jiao (), the given name of the Empress, also means charming. This story is preserved in the modern day idiom: 金屋藏嬌.
  5. Huaqing Palace (華清宮), which was located atop Mount Li (驪山) in the Qinling Mountains.
  6. Yuyang county is now known as Miyun County. The capital city of Yuyang county was Fanyang. An Lushan was the regional military governor of Fanyang during this time. It was from there that he staged the An Lushan Rebellion, which forced the emperor to flee the capital.
  7. This may be a play on words. Mount Emei (峨嵋), where the emperor was fleeing to, was so named because the peaks of Mount Emei do in fact resemble the feelers of a moth (蛾眉). The feelers of a moth can also be a metaphor for the long and slender eyebrows of a beautiful woman.
  8. On 15 July, 756 Emperor Xuanzong's procession reached Mawei Station (馬嵬驛, in modern Xianyang, Shaanxi). The imperial guards were not fed and became angry at Yang Guifei's cousin Yang Guozhong. The emperor's general Chen Xuanli (陳玄禮) also believed that Yang Guozhong had provoked this disaster and planned to accuse him; he reported his plans to crown prince Li Heng through Li Heng's eunuch Li Fuguo, but Li Heng was hesitant and gave no approval. Meanwhile, Tufan emissaries, who had followed Emperor Xuanzong south, were meeting with Yang Guozhong and complaining that they also had not been fed. The soldiers of the imperial guard took this opportunity to proclaim that Yang Guozhong was planning treason along with the Tufan emissaries, and they killed him, along with his son Yang Xuan (楊暄), the Ladies of Han and Qin, and the official Wei Fangjin. Chancellor Wei Jiansu was also nearly killed, but was spared at the last moment with severe injuries. The soldiers then surrounded Emperor Xuanzong's pavilion, and refused to scatter even after Emperor Xuanzong came out to comfort them and order them to disperse. Chen publicly urged him to put Consort Yang to death -- which Emperor Xuanzong initially declined. After Wei Jiansu's son Wei E (韋諤) and the emperor's eunuch Gao Lishi spoke further, Emperor Xuanzong finally resolved to do so. He therefore had Gao take Consort Yang to a Buddhist shrine and strangle her. After he showed the body to Chen and the other imperial guard generals, the guard soldiers finally dispersed and prepared for further travel. Meanwhile, Yang Guozhong's wife Pei Rou (裴柔), son Yang Xi (楊晞), the Lady of Guo, and the Lady of Guo's son Pei Hui (裴徽) tried to flee, but were killed in flight. Consort Yang was buried at Mawei, without a coffin, but with masses of fragrances, wrapped in purple blankets. In the poem, Bai Juyi writes that the Consort Yang is killed in front of the horses. This is probably meant to be taken as literary allusion. The word for "horse" (mǎ) is also the first syllable of Mawei Station.
  9. In present day Jian'ge County, Sichuan Province. Jian'ge County is famous for the long and windy foot paths going through Jianmen Pass. Jianmen means "gateway to Mount Jian", so called because its jagged peaks resemble a "jian" (a straight sword).
  10. Bai Juyi is probably taking poetic liscence here. It was probably a mountain in Sichuan, but not necessarily Mount Emei, which has always been an inspiration to Chinese poets
  11. A reference to Mawei (馬嵬) way station, where Yang Guifei was killed.
  12. West of Xingping County in modern day Shaanxi
  13. Yang Guifei's name at birth was Yuhuan (玉環), which means jade earrings.
  14. The Taiye ponds were built in the time of the Emperor Wu of Han. Weiyang Palace refers to a palace of the Han Dynasty which was built by Xiao He. Both places were located to the northwest of Chang'an in Shaanxi. Bai Juyi is again drawing comparisons between the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and the earlier Emperor Wu of Han.
  15. The Western Palace was also known as the Taiji Palace (太極宮), and was located to the northwest of the capital. The Southern Palace was also known as the Xingqing Palace (興慶宮), and was located to the southeast of the capital. After the rebellion was put down, the emperor temporarily stayed first at the Southern Palace, and then in Ganlu Hall (甘露殿) of the Western Palace, before returning to Chang'an.
  16. Where the empresses of the Han Dynasty had lived. Located in Weiyang Palace (未央宮). Bai Juyi is indirectly referring to Yang Guifei's living quarters via an analogy to the Han Dynasty.
  17. In present day Qionglai (邛崍), Sichuan.
  18. Hóngdū was originally the name of one of the gates of the Northern Palace in Luoyang (capital of China during the Han Dynasty). Later, it came to refer generically to any capital.
  19. Tàizhēn was Yang Guifei's style name
  20. In Daoist lore, Xiǎoyù and Shuāngchéng were the names of two female celestial beings. Here, the author turns them into the maid servants of Yang Guifei after she became a celestial being herself.
  21. In other words, an emissary of the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
  22. A reference back to the earlier stanza, "The sound of the war drums from Yuyang began to shake the earth, And broke the spell of the Song of rainbow skirts and feather robes." (霓裳羽衣曲)
  23. This line gave birth to the idiom: 梨花帶雨
  24. Originally built during the time of Emperor Wu of Han, the Hall of the Bright Sun (Zhaoyang Hall) became the residence of Empress Zhao Feiyan during the reign of Emperor Cheng of Han. Later poets used the Hall of the Bright Sun as a general metaphor for the living quarters of imperial consorts.
  25. The Chinese for "where mortals dwell" (人寰) contains the character 寰, which might also be an allusion to 環, part of Yang Guifei's birth name: Yáng Yùhuán (楊玉).
  26. The name of a hall within Huaqing Palace. Recall that the emperor first bathed with Yang Guifei at the pools of Huaqing Palace (line 9 of the poem).

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