作者：王昌龄 （Author: Wang Changling, 8th century)
昨 夜 風 開 露 井 桃 last night wind open dew well peach
未 央 前 殿 月 輪 高 not central front palace moon wheel high
平 陽 歌 舞 新 承 寵 Ping Yang (title) sing dance new receive favor
簾 外 春 寒 賜 錦 袍 curtain outside spring cold give brocade robe
Last night the wind blew, and the peach trees —
The ones beside the open well — began to blossom.
That’s when the moon rose like a great wheel
High above the Weiyang palace.
Oh, how she danced and sang,
Behind the beaded curtain.
She won new favor from the emperor
A brocade robe for the cold spring air.
This was a difficult poem to translate, despite the fact that it’s composed of very concrete images and actions. We had to expand the four lines to eight in order to explain what was happening, and we still omitted a few things. The poem tells us in which of the buildings in the palace complex the actions take place (the front one), but this seemed like a meaningless and clumsy detail in English. In the original, the wind causes the flowers to open. This 8th century concept of how the seasons change makes little sense to a 21st century reader, and trying to explain it within the context of this poem seemed unnecessarily awkward. We merely implied that the wind could have caused the flowers to blossom with the sequence of events. In doing so, however, we may have also omitted the sense of the wind as a mighty presence that creates a feminine response of flowering in a way that foreshadows the emperor in the second half of the poem. Whether it is taken as a delicate foreshadowing of the sexuality of the next stanza or not, it is important that the masculine, yang wind is juxtaposed with the feminine, yin flowers to create a sense of a full and balanced world.
In the second verse, the dancer is referred to as “she” which we considered more intimate than “the dancer.” Some translators have assumed that the dancer was the princess herself, but this assumption is incorrect. The dancer referred to in this poem is Wei Zifu, who was working as a palace singer and dancer on Princess Pingyang’s estate. Princess Pingyang was a Western Han Dynasty princess and one of the Emperor Wu of Han’s sisters. We were able to figure out the era of the story through the palace name in the second line — Weiyang Palace which was the main imperial residence of the Han dynasty. In 139 BC, Emperor Wu of Han paid a visit to his sister Princess Pingyang’s estate. The princess called in Wei Zifu to dance for the emperor as an entertainment. As a beautiful young girl talented in singing and dancing, Wei Zifu managed to catch the eye of the emperor. After that visit, the emperor took Wei Zifu back to his palace as a concubine. Ten years later, following the emperor’s divorce with his empress Chen Jiao, Wei Zifu gave birth to the emperor’s first son and was then made empress.