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HomeLiterature Ode to Everlasting Regrets

[Poem] Ode to Everlasting Regrets

Tr. by Fred X. Meng (孟宪波译)

长恨歌 (Ode to Everlasting Regrets)
* By Bai Juyi (白居易)

  • 汉皇重色思倾国,御宇多年求不得。杨家有女初长成,养在深闺人未识。

    [Hàn huáng zhòng sè sī qīng guó, yùyǔ duōnián qiú bùdé. Yáng jiā yǒu nǚ chū zhǎng chéng, yǎng zài shēnguī rén wèi shí]

    More than anything else His Majesty loves beauties who’re fond,

    Enthroned for years the most satisfying has not yet been found.

    Presently Yang’s daughter is reported to have been well-bred,

    No one has noticed her as it is in her boudoir that she’s confined.




  • 天生丽质难自弃,一朝选在君王侧。回眸一笑百媚生,六宫粉黛无颜色。

    [Tiānshēng lìzhì nán zìqì, yī zhāo xuǎn zài jūnwáng cè. Huímóu yīxiào bǎi mèi shēng, liù gōng fěndài wú yánsè.]

    None of her beautiful features would be cast in oblivion,

    Only because she has been presented to the sovereign.

    Casting a smiling glance she is the most attractive lady,

    All the concubines and beauties can do nothing but flee.




  • 春寒赐浴华清池,温泉水滑洗凝脂。侍儿扶起娇无力,始是新承恩泽时。

    [Chūnhán cì yù huáqīngchí, wēnquán shuǐ huá xǐ níngzhī. Shì er fú qǐ jiāo wúlì, shǐ shì xīn chéng ēnzé shí.]

    Permitted to bathe in Huaqing Pool in the still chilly spring,

    Warm spring water cleans her smooth and silky skin,

    The fragile lady is helped to her feet by her maid,

    Thus begins their most fascinating wedding day.




  • 云鬓花颜金步摇,芙蓉帐暖度春宵。春宵苦短日高起,从此君王不早朝。

    [Yúnbìn huā yán jīn bù yáo, fúróng zhàng nuǎn dù chūnxiāo. Chūnxiāo kǔ duǎn rì gāo qǐ, cóngcǐ jūnwáng bù zǎocháo.]

    Her hair is decorated with dangling glittering jewelry,

    The warm spring night they spend is most fascinating.

    The joyous night is too short as the hideous sun rises,

    Hence he refuses to attend business early in the morning.




  • 承欢侍宴无闲暇,春从春游夜专夜。后宫佳丽三千人,三千宠爱在一身。

    [Chénghuān shì yàn wú xiánxiá, chūn cóng chūnyóu yè zhuān yè. Hòugōng jiālì sānqiān rén, sānqiān chǒng’ài zài yīshēn.]

    She spends every minute making him happy by waiting at feasts,

    She’s the only lady he endears and they travel as spring tourists.

    The only woman he adores is Yang, the delicate empress.

    Leaving behind three thousand beauties in his palace,




  • 金屋妆成娇侍夜,玉楼宴罢醉和春。姊妹弟兄皆列土,可怜光彩生门户。

    [Jīnwū zhuāng chéng jiāo shì yè, yùlóu yàn bà zuì hé chūn. Zǐmèi dìxiōng jiē liè tǔ, kělián guāngcǎi shēng ménhù.volume_up]

    With meticulous makeup she spends the nights with the emperor,

    Drinking at feasts makes her an even more beautiful charmer.

    All her brothers and sisters are being given royal titles.

    Auspicious clouds are hovering above the family’s tiles.




  • 遂令天下父母心,不重生男重生女。骊宫高处入青云,仙乐风飘处处闻。

    [Suì lìng tiānxià fùmǔ xīn, bù chóngshēng nán chóngshēng nǚ. Lí gōng gāo chù rù qīngyún, xiān yuè fēng piāo chùchù wén.]

    This helps all the parents to change their minds,

    For they now prefer producing girls to having males.

    The top of the Li Palace is piercing into the clouds,

    While beautiful melodies of fairy music ringing aloud.




  • 缓歌谩舞凝丝竹,尽日君王看不足。渔阳鼙鼓动地来,惊破霓裳羽衣曲。

    [Huǎn gē mán wǔ níng sīzhú, jǐn rì jūnwáng kàn bùzú. Yú yáng pí gǔdòng dì lái, jīng pò níshang yǔyī qū.]

    Enjoying pleasant songs and graceful dances

    Never has the ruler got tired from dawn to dusk.

    Alas! A rebellion breaks out all of a sudden,

    Dancers and singers are extremely panic-stricken.




  • 九重城阙烟尘生,千乘万骑西南行。翠华摇摇行复止,西出都门百余里。

    [Jiǔchóng chéngquē yānchén shēng, qiān chéng wàn qí xīnán xíng. Cuì huá yáo yáo xíng fù zhǐ, xī chū dōu mén bǎi yú lǐ.]

    The stronghold is immediately left in dusty chaos,

    Thousands of his troops are moving southwest.

    When troops abruptly stop moving his banner flies,

    Covering a distance form West Gate of forty miles.




  • 六军不发无奈何,宛转蛾眉马前死。花钿委地无人收,翠翘金雀玉搔头。

    [Liù jūn bù fā wúnàihé, wǎnzhuǎn éméi mǎ qián sǐ. Huā diàn wěi dì wú rén shōu, cuì qiào jīn què yù sāo tóu.]

    The troops decline a step forward and he can do nothing,

    The poor delicate Empress has to be executed by hanging.

    The execution ground is strewn with her golden jewelry,

    No one cares to pick up the fallen hairpins in such a hurry.




  • 君王掩面救不得,回看血泪相和流。黄埃散漫风萧索,云栈萦纡登剑阁。

    [Jūnwáng yǎn miàn jiù bùdé, huí kàn xuèlèi xiāng hé liú. Huáng āi sànmàn fēng xiāosuǒ, yún zhàn yíng yū dēng jiàngé.]

    Covering his tear-smeared face His Majesty can do nothing,

    He keeps turning back his head with tears and blood blending.

    The air is filled with yellow sand and saddening wind soughs.

    Along the trail His Majesty is mounting the precipitous steps,

    The zigzag trail of ancient Jiange is connected with the clouds,




  • 峨嵋山下少人行,旌旗无光日色薄。蜀江水碧蜀山青,圣主朝朝暮暮情。

    [Éméi shānxià shǎo rénxíng, jīngqí wú guāng rì sè báo. Shǔ jiāngshuǐ bì shǔshān qīng, shèng zhǔ zhāo zhāo mù mù qíng.]

    Few travelers can be seen at the foot of the EmeiMountain,

    The banners and flags droop and the skies darken.

    The rivers of Sichuan are lucid and the mountains green,

    From morning to evening her image lingers over his dreams.




  • 行宫见月伤心色,夜雨闻铃肠断声。天旋地转回龙驭,到此踌躇不能去。

    [Xínggōng jiàn yuè shāngxīn sè, yè yǔ wén líng chángduàn shēng. Tiānxuándìzhuǎn huí lóng yù, dào cǐ chóuchú bùnéng qù.]

    The gloomy moon hovering above his temporary palace,

    He’s heartbroken upon hearing the bells midst the night rain.

    The situation has changed and the ruler is expected to return,

    However he is hesitant to mount his royal chariot.




  • 马嵬坡下泥土中,不见玉颜空死处。君臣相顾尽沾衣,东望都门信马归。

    [Mǎ wéi pō xià nítǔ zhōng, bùjiàn yù yán kōng sǐ chù. Jūnchén xiānggù jǐn zhān yī, dōng wàngdū mén xìn mǎ guī.]

    Dirt at the foot of Mahuai Ridge witnesses her execution,

    Unfortunately her beautiful face is nowhere to be seen.

    Both His Majesty and his subordinates are weeping,

    No one urges steeds back to the palace but let them be roving.




  • 归来池苑皆依旧,太液芙蓉未央柳。芙蓉如面柳如眉,对此如何不泪垂。

    [Guīlái chí yuàn jiē yījiù, tài yè fúróng wèiyāng liǔ. Fúróng rú miàn liǔrúméi, duì cǐ rúhé bù lèi chuí.]

    Lotus in Taiye Pond blooms by green willows in WeiyangPalace.

    The regal ponds and gardens in the palace still remain intact,

    What else can remind of the delicate features of the late empress?

    How can His Majesty refrain from being lost in tearful distress?




  • 春风桃李花开日,秋雨梧桐叶落时。西宫南内多秋草,落叶满阶红不扫。

    [Chūnfēng táolǐ huā kāi rì, qiūyǔ wútóng yè luò shí. Xīgōng nán nèi duō qiūcǎo, luòyè mǎn jiē hóng bu sǎo.]

    Peaches and plums are blooming in the spring,

    Chinese parasol leaves are falling with autumn wind.

    The steps are strewn with fallen frost-bitten leaves,

    Palace courtyard’ s covered with autumn grass luxuriant.




  • 梨园弟子白发新,椒房阿监青娥老。夕殿萤飞思悄然,孤灯挑尽未成眠。

    [Líyuán dìzǐ bái fà xīn, jiāo fáng ā jiān qīng é lǎo. Xī diàn yíng fēi sī qiǎorán, gūdēng tiāo jǐn wèichéng mián.]

    The opera singers have become gray haired,

    The faces of court maids have turned wrinkled.

    Dusks find glowworms flying in the palace,

    His Majesty in agony is again lost in meditation.

    The oil of the lonely lamp is almost burning out,

    Nonetheless His Majesty can hardly fall asleep.




  • 迟迟钟鼓初长夜,耿耿星河欲曙天。鸳鸯瓦冷霜华重,翡翠衾寒谁与共。

    [Chí chí zhōng gǔ chū chángyè, gěnggěng xīnghé yù shǔ tiān. Yuānyāng wǎ lěng shuāng huá zhòng, fěicuì qīn hán shéi yǔgòng.]

    Bell announces beginning of a night unbearably long,

    The dim starlight is ushering in the next dawn.

    Covered with heavy frost the tiles are so cold,

    Cold quilt can no longer bring dreams she can haunt.




  • 悠悠生死别经年,魂魄不曾来入梦。临邛道士鸿都客,能以精诚致魂魄。

    [Yōuyōu shēngsǐ bié jīng nián, húnpò bùcéng lái rùmèng. Lín qióng dàoshi hóng dōu kè, néng yǐ jīngchéng zhì húnpò.]

    Year in and year out hence her decease,

    Her soul has never visited the ruler’s dreams.

    In the capital resides a kind Taoist priest,

    With sincerity he can work as an exorcist.




  • 为感君王辗转思,遂教方士殷勤觅。排空驭气奔如电,升天入地求之遍。

    [Wèi gǎn jūnwáng niǎnzhuǎn sī, suì jiào fāngshì yīnqín mì. Pái kōng yù qì bēn rú diàn, shēngtiān rù dì qiú zhī biàn.]

    Deeply moved by His Majesty’s restless lovesickness,

    The Taoist priest offers to help with eager attentiveness.

    Soaring by riding the clouds and air like a lightning,

    He hunts in heaven and the nether world for the Empress.




  • 上穷碧落下黄泉,两处茫茫皆不见。忽闻海上有仙山,山在虚无缥缈间。

    [Shàng qióng bì luòxià huángquán, liǎng chù mángmáng jiē bùjiàn. Hū wén hǎishàng yǒu xiānshān, shān zài xūwúpiāomiǎo jiān.]

    No news from heaven or the otherworldliness,

    The Empress can be found from neither place.

    Suddenly he learns a fairy mountain on the sea,

    And the fairyland is just like a mirage scene.




  • 楼阁玲珑五云起,其中绰约多仙子。中有一人字太真,雪肤花貌参差是。

    [Lóugé línglóng wǔ yún qǐ, qízhōng chuòyuē duō xiānzǐ. Zhōng yǒu yīrén zì tài zhēn, xuě fū huā mào cēncī shì.]

    Magnificent pavilions are hidden in clouds auspicious,

    In the beautiful buildings live many nymphs gracious.

    Amongst them there is one named Taizhen,

    With delicate features and snow-white skin.




  • 金阙西厢叩玉扃,转教小玉报双成。闻道汉家天子使,九华帐里梦魂惊。

    [Jīn quē xī xiāng kòu yù jiōng, zhuǎn jiào xiǎoyù bào shuāng chéng. Wén dào hàn jiā tiānzǐ shǐ, jiǔ huá zhàng lǐ mèng hún jīng.]

    The priest knocks at west wing made of jade,

    Please inform your mistress he pleads the maid.

    Learning the arrival of the envoy of His Majesty,

    Startled in her dreams under the brocade canopy.




  • 揽衣推枕起徘徊,珠箔银屏迤逦开。云鬓半偏新睡觉,花冠不整下堂来

    [Lǎn yī tuī zhěn qǐ páihuái, zhū bó yínpíng yílǐ kāi. Yúnbìn bàn piān xīn shuìjiào, huāguān bùzhěng xià táng lái]

    Pushing aside the pillow she gets up hesitantly,

    The pearl curtains and the silver screens are open,

    She makes her maids usher in the visitor immediately.

    Eyes blurred she finds her dresses in disarray.




  • 风吹仙袂飘飘举,犹似霓裳羽衣舞。玉容寂寞泪阑干,梨花一枝春带雨。

    [Fēng chuī xiān mèi piāo piāo jǔ, yóu shì níshang yǔyī wǔ. Yù róng jìmò lèi lángān, líhuā yīzhī chūn dài yǔ.]

    Her long sleeves are rippling in breeze,

    As if she were dancing to the Nichang music.

    Her lovely face is smeared with lonely tears,

    A branch of pear blossoms dampened by spring rain.




  • 含情凝睇谢君王,一别音容两渺茫。昭阳殿里恩爱绝,蓬莱宫中日月长。

    [Hánqíng níng dì xiè jūnwáng, yī bié yīnróng liǎng miǎománg. Zhāo yáng diàn lǐ ēn’ài jué, pénglái gōng zhōng rì yuè cháng.]

    With affection she expresses her gratitude to the king,

    Never have they met each other since their separation.

    They once truly love each other in Palace Zhaoyang,

    The lonely days in Palace Penglai are unbearably long.




  • 回头下望人寰处,不见长安见尘雾。惟将旧物表深情,钿合金钗寄将去。

    [Huítóu xià wàng rénhuán chù, bùjiàn cháng’ān jiàn chénwù. Wéi jiàng jiùwù biǎo shēnqíng, diàn héjīn chāi jì jiāng qù.]

    Looking down at the earthly human scene,

    Enshrouded in dust the capital can’t be seen.

    I can do nothing but express my affections.

    By sending my beloved our old love tokens




  • 钗留一股合一扇,钗擘黄金合分钿。但教心似金钿坚,天上人间会相见。

    [Chāi liú yī gǔ hé yī shàn, chāi bāi huángjīn hé fēn diàn. Dàn jiào xīn sì jīndiànjiān, tiānshàng rénjiān huì xiāng jiàn.volume_up]

    Half of the jewelry and my golden hairpin I’ll keep,

    And the rest of them shall undoubtedly go to him.

    As long as our devotion remains as sturdy as gold,

    We shall meet in heaven or in the human world.




  • 临别殷勤重寄词,词中有誓两心知。七月七日长生殿,夜半无人私语时。

    [Línbié yīnqín zhòng jì cí, cí zhōng yǒu shì liǎng xīn zhī. Qī yuè qī rì chángshēng diàn, yèbàn wú rén sīyǔ shí.]

    Will the envoy please take my message to His Majesty?

    The pledges are perfectly understood by our two hearts.

    When meet in Longevity Hall on the 7th day of the 7th month,

    By midnight we shall be able to whisper into each other’s ears:




  • 在天愿作比翼鸟,在地愿为连理枝。天长地久有时尽,此恨绵绵无绝期。

    [Zài tiān yuàn zuò bǐyìniǎo, zài dì yuàn wéi lián lǐzhī. Tiānchángdìjiǔ yǒushí jǐn, cǐ hèn miánmián wú jué qī.volume_up]

    In heaven we’ll be a pair of birds flying wing to wing,

    On earth we’ll be trees intertwined from twig to twig.

    The profound eternity may come to an end,

    Our hatred for separation will forever remain.
Story in poetry

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