Song of Eternal Sorrow
Appreciating feminine charms,
The Han emperor sought a great beauty.
Throughout his empire he searched
For many years without success.
Then a daughter of the Yang family
Matured to womanhood.
Since she was secluded in her chamber,
None outside had seen her.
Yet with such beauty bestowed by fate,
How could she remain unknown?
One day she was chosen
To attend the emperor.
Glancing back and smiling,
She revealed a hundred charms.
All the powdered ladies of the six palaces
At once seemed dull and colourless.
One cold spring day she was ordered
To bathe in the Huaqing Palace baths.
The warm water slipped down
Her glistening jade-like body.
When her maids helped her rise,
She looked so frail and lovely,
At once she won the emperor's favour.
Her hair like a cloud,
Her face like a flower,
A gold hair-pin adorning her tresses.
Behind the warm lotus-flower curtain,
They took their pleasure in the spring night.
Regretting only the spring nights were too short;
Rising only when the sun was high;
He stopped attending court sessions
In the early morning.
Constantly she amused and feasted with him,
Accompanying him on his spring outings,
Spending all the nights with him.
Though many beauties were in the palace,
More than three thousand of them,
All his favours were centred on her.
Finishing her coiffure in the gilded chamber,
Charming, she accompanied him at night.
Feasting together in the marble pavilion,
Inebriated in the spring.
All her sisters and brothers
Became nobles with fiefs.
How wonderful to have so much splendour
Centred in one family!
All parents wished for daughters
Instead of sons!
The Li Mountain lofty pleasure palace
Reached to the blue sky.
The sounds of heavenly music were carried
By the wind far and wide.
Gentle melodies and graceful dances
Mingled with the strings and flutes;
The emperor never tired of these.
Then battle drums shook the earth,
The alarm sounding from Yuyang.
The Rainbow and Feather Garments Dance
Was stopped by sounds of war.
Dust filled the high-towered capital.
As thousands of carriages and horsemen
Fled to the southwest.
The emperor's green-canopied carriage
Was forced to halt,
Having left the west city gate
More than a hundred li.
There was nothing the emperor could do,
At the army's refusal to proceed.
So she with the moth-like eyebrows
Was killed before his horses.
Her floral-patterned gilded box
Fell to the ground, abandoned and unwanted,
Like her jade hair-pin
With the gold sparrow and green feathers.
Covering his face with his hands,
He could not save her.
Turning back to look at her,
His tears mingled with her blood.
Yellow dust filled the sky;
The wind was cold and shrill.
Ascending high winding mountain paths,
They reached the Sword Pass,
At the foot of the Emei Mountains.
Few came that way.
Their banners seemed less resplendent;
Even the sun seemed dim.
Though the rivers were deep blue,
And the Sichuan mountains green,
Night and day the emperor mourned.
In his refuge when he saw the moon,
Even it seemed sad and wan.
On rainy nights, the sound of bells