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Bai Juyi: The Long Song of Remorse: Part Two

The Long Song of Remorse: Part Two

An Lushan’s military outpost is in Yuyang, Hebei
His rebel troop movements come overland
Frightening, disturbing the Rainbow Feathered Skirt music
Above nine storied towers on city walls
The smoke and dust arose
One thousand rode in carriages
Ten thousand rode in carts
To the southwest the court retreated.

Green feathered fans swing back and forth, start and stop, over and over
Going out from the western city wall tower almost a hundred miles
Six royal bodyguards in the rear guard
Ask what can be done about the closing enemy forces
Sad and melancholy resignation
The pretty palace maid fell dead in front of her horse
Boxes of female gold flower hair ornaments also fell to the ground
All left behind as no one is around to gather them up.
Jade hair ornaments, golden bird jewelry, and engraved gold hairpins
Emperor unable to save her life, covers his face
Looking back he sees her blood, his tears flowing into each other.

Yellow dust scatters in a bleak and chilly wind
Hovering clouds
Wooden pathway twisting and winding along the face of a cliff
Ascending to the Jian mountain pavilion
Few people walk up to Mt. Emei from below
Sunlight so thin, the imperial banners and flags without their usual luster
Sichuan River water greenish blue
Sichuan Mountain verdant green.

Every morning and every evening
The emperor remembers and reminisces
From the imperial palace the moon appears with a broken-hearted color
Overcome with grief
Hearing the night rain and wind chimes.

Heavenly fate and earthly circumstances change
Returning horse carts driven with displayed dragons
Hesitating at the place of her death, unable to go on
Beneath the slopes of Horse Tower, inside the earth
Unable to see any trace of his pretty lady where she fell
The emperor and one of his ministers
Look at each other in tear-soaked clothes.

Looking east at the city wall gate tower
Reins dangling free, letting his horse take him back the rest of the way
On returning, old imperial ponds and gardens like before
Tai Yie lotus flowers like her face
Wei Yang willow trees like her eyebrows
How can he possible face coming here again
Without tears coming down?

Within the spring winds
Peach blossoms opening up this day
In the autumn rain
Leaves falling from the Chinese parasol trees
From the western to the eastern palaces a lot of autumn grasses
Falling leaves filling up the steps the young people have yet to clean away

Theatrical performers of Chinese traditional opera now growing white hair
Woman supervisor in the palace flower room once young, now older
Palace hallway at sunset with airborne fireflies
Train of thought quiet and melancholy
Solitary light and sleeplessness
Trimming the lamp wick until its entirely used up
Nights pass slowly away
Clock drums the hour at the beginning of long nights.


An Lushan:(c. 703-757): Rebel army general who led the insurrection against Emperor Xuanzong and the Tang court in 756.

Rainbow Skirt Music and Dance:(Ni Shan): Famous and popular Tang Dynasty music and dance performed often in the palace for Emperor Xuanzong.

Mt. Emei: One of the largest and most sacred mountains of China, located in the province of Sichuan.

Sichuan: Province in western China

Horse Tower: An area in the outskirts west of the capital Chang’an.  According to the poem it is almost one hundred miles to the southwest, near the present day city of Xiping   It was the place where Yang Guifei lost her life.

Tai Yie lotus: Lotus plants growing in a pond that receives water that is especially well liked by the plants.  The pond was built near the capital city of Chang’an during the Han Dynasty.

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