Qingping Melody In Three Parts (No.1)

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Li Bo composed this poem at the Xingqing Palace in Changan.

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Qingping Melody In Three Parts (No.1)
        Li Bo 699-762

Clouds recall her robes, 
        blossoms her face,
Spring winds caress the rail, 
        dew-laden petals grow lush.
If you do not see her 
        atop Jade-Cluster Mountain,
Then surely you shall meet her 
        at Jasper Terrace beneath the moon.

On a bough of brilliant red, 
        dew's thickening fragrance,
The clouds and rain upon Mount Wu 
        reckessly break men's hearts.
Should you ask, 
        in the Han Palace who can compare?
Fetching Flying-Swallow, 
        at her ease, adorns herselft anew.

The "Acclaimed Flower" 
        and the "Ruination of Kingdoms" 
                take pleasure in each other,
So lovely that the prince 
        watches with a smile.
Unconstrained is the spring wind, 
        its sorrows without end...
North of Sandalwood Pavillion, 
        he leans on the railing.
Qīngpíng Diào Sānshǒu
Lǐ Bó 699-762

Yún xiǎng yīshang huā xiǎng róng,
Chūnfēng fúlǎn lùhuá nóng.
Ruòfēi qún Yùshāntóu jiàn,
Huì xiàngyáotái yuè xià féng

Yī zhī hóng yàn lù níng xiāng,
Yúnyǔ Wūshān wǎng duàn cháng.
Jièwèn Hàngōng shéi de sì,
Kělián Feiyàn yǐ xīnzhuāng.

Mīnghuā qīngguó liǎngxiang huān,
Chāng dé Jùnwáng dàixiào kàn.
Jiěshì chūnfēng wúxiàn hèn,
Chénxiāng tíng běi yǐ lángān.
Translator: Paula Varsano 翻譯者

Translation from Paula Varsano's great book on Li Bo, Tracking the Banished Immortal, The Poetry of Li Bo and Its Critical Reception, University of Hawaii Press, 2003.

"The lore surrounding and supporting Li Bo's most famous yuefu compositions, executed on demand, perhaps fueled by the consumption of some good wine. One of Li Bo's most famous yuefu compositions, "Qingping Melody in Tree Parts" ("Qingping Diao") is subject of just such a story. Li is credited with having whipped off the three quatrains in a drunken instant, and the purported result in this much disputed, sensually appealing work, whose exact meaning...hyperbolic appreciation of flowers and veiled political commentary...continues to incite debate.

Although the details vary and the kernel of the story has been embellished and altered over the years, Wang Qi's annotation, quoted directly from the "Official Biography of Yang Guifei," provides the essentials.

According to this version, sometime in the middle of the Kaiyuan era, peonies were planted in the imperial garden. When they were in full bloom, the emperor called for a nighttime flower viewing celebration, which he enjoyed in the company of his consort, Yang Guifei. Song and dance were provided by members of the Liyuan, the imperial theater company, but a song proposed by one of its members, Li Gunian, disapponted the emperor, who found it too old-fashioned for the occasion. He thereapon sent for Li Bo, asking him to compose new lyrics. Li Bo, who happened to be just waking up (or, in some accounts was drunk), grabbed his brush and, without a moments thought, composed these poems, which were then set to music and performed by Li Gunian. Both the consort and the emperor were very pleased.

As this account tells it, "From that moment on, the emperor regarded Li Hanlin as uniquely excellent among all other scholars." But this favor of court was short-lived, and a related story identifies this event as one of the causes of Li Bo's later expulsion. As recounted in Yue Shi's (930-1007) Taibai Yishi, the powerful eunuch Gao Lishi, resentful of Li Bo's rise to favor, and particularly vexed at having been obliged to remove Li Bo's boots, told Yang Guifei that the "Qingping Diao" poems were veiled criticisms of her favored treatment....with predictable results." (Li Bo was exiled.) "

Quoted from page 246 of Tracking The Banished Immortal by Paula Varsano.

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