“His Majesty has recovered and wishes his ministers to meet him in the Palace to consider the question of his abdication in your favor. That is what this summons means.”

“What does Wang Yun think of the scheme?”

  “Wang Yun has already begun the construction of the Terrace of Abdication and only awaits my lord’s arrival.”

  “Last night I dreamed a dragon coiled round my body,” said Dong Zhuo GREatly pleased, “and now I get this happy tidings! I must not neglect the opportunity.”

  So Dong Zhuo gave instructions to his four trusted generals for the safekeeping of his city. Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji were to guard Meiwo with three thousand troops of the Flying Bear Army. Then Dong Zhuo announced his intention of starting on the morrow.

  “When I am Emperor, you shall be Commander of the Capital District,” said he.

  “Your minister thanks you,” said Li Su.

  Dong Zhuo went to bid farewell to his ninety-year-old mother.

  “Whither are you going, my son?” asked she.

  “I go to receive the abdication of Han; and soon you will be the Empress.”

“I have been feeling nervous and creepy these few days. It is a bad sign.”

“Anyone about to become the Mother of the State must have premonitions,” said her son.

He left her with these words.

Just before starting, he said to Diao Chan, “When I am Emperor, you shall be Lady of the Palace.”

She bowed low thanking him, but she knew and inwardly rejoiced.

Dong Zhuo went out, mounted his carriage,

and began his journey to Capital Changan with an imposing escort.

Less than ten miles the wheel of his carriage broke.

He left it and mounted a horse.

Another ten miles the horse snorted and neighed,

threw up his head and snapped the reins.

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Thus speaking she seized the curving rail and started into

the lily pond. Lu Bu caught her in his

strong arms and wept as he held her close.

“I knew it: I always knew your heart,” he sobbed. “Only we never had a chance to speak.”

She threw her arms about Lu Bu.

“If I cannot be your wife in this life, I will in the ages to come,” she whispered.

“If I do not marry you in this life, I am no hero,” said he.

“Every day is a year long. O pity me! Rescue me! My lord!”

  “I have only stolen away for a brief moment, and I am afraid that old rebel will suspect something, so I must not stay too long,” said Lu Bu.

  Diao Chan clung to his robe, saying, “If you fear the old thief so much, I shall never see another sunrise.”

  Lu Bu stopped.

  “Give me a little time to think,” said he.

  And he picked up his halberd to go.

  “In the deep seclusion of the harem, I heard the stories of your prowess. You were the one man who excelled all others. Little did I think that you of all heroes would rest content under the dominion of another.”

  And tears rained again!

  A wave of shame flooded his face. Leaning his halberd against the railing, he turned and clasped the girl to his breast, soothing her with fond words. The lovers held each other close, swaying to and fro with emotion. They could not bring themselves to say farewell.

  In the meantime Dong Zhuo missed his henchman, and doubt filled his heart. Hastily taking leave of the Emperor, he mounted his chariot and returned to his palace. There at the gate stood Lu Bu’s well known steed Red Hare, riderless. Dong Zhuo questioned the doorkeepers, and they told him the General was within. He sent away his attendants and went alone to the private apartments. Lu Bu was not there. He called Diao Chan, but there was no reply. He asked where she was, and the waiting maids told him she was in the garden among the flowers.

  So Dong Zhuo went into the garden, and there he saw the lovers in the pavilion in most tender talk. Lu Bu’s trident halberd was leaning on the railing beside him.

A howl of rage escaped Dong Zhuo and startled the lovers. Lu Bu turned, saw who it was, and ran away. Dong Zhuo caught up the halberd and ran in pursuit. But Lu Bu was fleet of foot while his master was very stout. Seeing no hope of catching the runaway, Dong Zhuo hurled the halberd. Lu Bu fended it off and it fell to the ground. Dong Zhuo picked it up and ran on. But by this time Lu Bu was far ahead. Just as Dong Zhuo was running out at the garden gate, he dashed full tilt against another man running in, and down he went.

[hip, hip, hip] Surged up his wrath within him as

the billows heavenward leap. Crashed his unwieldy body

to earth in a shapeless heap. [yip, yip, yip]

We shall presently see who the other runner was

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“How dare I expect this?” said Dong Zhuo.

  “From the days of old, those who walk in the way have replaced those who deviate therefrom; those who lack virtue have fallen before those who possess it. Can one escape fate?”

  “If indeed the decree of Heaven devolves on me, you shall be held the first in merit!” said Dong Zhuo.

  Wang Yun bowed. then lights were brought in and all the attendants were dismissed, save the serving maids to hand the wine. So the evening went on.

  Presently Wang Yun said, “the music of these everyday musicians is too commonplace for your ear, but there happens to be in the house a little maid that might please you.”

  “Excellent!” said the guest.

  then a curtain was lowered. The shrill tones of reed instruments rang through the room, and presently some attendants led forward Diao Chan, who then danced on the outside of the curtain.

  A poem praises her:

  [hip, hip, hip] For a palace this maiden was born, So timid,

so graceful, so slender, Like a tiny bird flitting at morn Over the

dew-laden lily buds tender. Were this exquisite maid only mine, For never a mansion I’d pine. [yip, yip, yip]

  Another poem runs thus:

  [hip, hip, hip] the music falls, the dancer comes, a swallow gliding in, A dainty little damsel, soft as silk;Her beauty captivates the guest yet saddens him within, For he must soon depart and leave her there. She smiles; no gold could buy that smile, no other smiled so, No need to deck her form with jewels rare. But when the dance is over and coy glances come and go, Then who shall be the chosen of the fair?

  [yip, yip, yip]

  the dance ended. Dong Zhuo bade them lead the maiden in, and she came, bowing low as she approached him. He was much taken with her beauty and modest grace.

  “Who is she?” said Dong Zhuo.

  “A singing girl. Her name is Diao Chan.”

  “then can she sing?”

  the master bade her sing, and she did so to the accompaniment of castanets. There is a measure describing her youthful beauty:

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Lu Bu was a conspicuous figure in front of the line. On his head was a triple curved headdress of ruddy gold with pheasant tails. He wore a warring velvet-red robe of Xichuan silk embroidered with thousand flowers, which was overlapped by golden mail adorned with a gaping animal’s head, joined by rings at the sides and girt to his waist with a belt fastened by a beautiful lion-head clasp. His bow and arrows were slung on his shoulders, and he carried a long heavy trident halberd. He was seated on his snorting steed Red Hare. Indeed Lu Bu was the man among humans, as Red Hare was the horse among horses.

“Who dares go out to fight him?” asked Wang Kuang turning to those behind him.

In response a valiant general from Henei named Fang Yue spurred to the front, his spear set ready for battle. Lu Bu and Fang Yue met: Before the fifth bout Fang Yue fell under a thrust of the trident halberd, and Lu Bu dashed forward. Wang Kuang’s troops could not stand and scattered in all directions. Lu Bu went to and fro slaying all he met. He was irresistible.

Luckily, two other troops led by Qiao Mao and Yuan Yi came up and rescued the wounded Wang Kuang, and Lu Bu pulled back. The three, having lost many troops, withdrew ten miles and made a stockade. And before long the remaining five commanders came up and joined them. They held a council and aGREed Lu Bu was a hero no one could match.

  And while they sat there anxious and uncertain, it was announced that Lu Bu had returned to challenge them. They mounted their horses and placed themselves at the heads of eight forces, each body in its station on the high ground. Around them was the opposing army in formation, commanded by Lu Bu, innumerable horse and foot, with splendid embroidered banners waving in the breeze.

they attacked Lu Bu. Mu Shun, a general of Governor Zhang Yang, rode out with his spear set, but soon fell at the first encounter with Lu Bu. This frightened the others. Then galloped forth Wu Anguo, a general under Governor Kong Rong. Wu Anguo raised his iron mace ready at his rival. Lu Bu whirling his halberd and urging on his steed came to meet Wu Anguo. The two fought, well matched for ten bouts, when a blow from the trident halberd broke Wu Anguo’s

wrist. Letting his mace fall to the

ground he fled. Then all eight of the

lords led forth their armies to

his rescue, and Lu Bu retired to his line.

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Dong Zhuo angrily drew his sword to slay

the bold Lu Zhi, but two other officials remonstrated.

“Minister Lu Zhi is the cynosure of the whole country,

the bold Lu Zhi, but two other officials remonstrated.

“Minister Lu Zhi is the cynosure of the whole country,

and his violent death would stir the hearts of all people!”

said Court Counselors Cai Yong and Peng Bo.

Dong Zhuo then stayed his hand.

then said Wang Yun, “A GREat question like the

deposition and substitution of emperors is not

one to be decided after a wine party.

Let it be put off till another time.”

So the guests dispersed. Dong Zhuo stood at the gate

with drawn sword watching them depart. Standing thus,

Dong Zhuo noticed a spearman galloping to and fro on

a fiery steed and asked Li Ru who that was.

“That is Lu Bu, the adopted son of Ding Yuan.

You must keep out of his way, my lord.”

Dong Zhuo went inside the gate so that he

could not be seen. But next day they reported

to him that Ding Yuan had come out of the city

with a small army and was challenging to a battle.

Dong Zhuo, with his army, went forth to accept

the challenge. And the two armies were drawn up in proper array.

Lu Bu was a conspicuous figure in the forefront.

His hair was arranged under a handsome headdress

of gold, and he had donned a embroidered

thousand-flower fighting robe, a pheasant-tailed helmet,

and breast plate, and round his waist was a gleaming jade

belt with a lion’s head clasp.

With spear set he rode close behind his master Ding Yuan.

Ding Yuan, riding forth, pointing his finger at Dong Zhuo,

began to revile him.

“Unhappy indeed was this state when the eunuchs

became so powerful that the people were as if trodden

into the mire under their feet. Now you, devoid of the

least merit, dare to talk of deposing the rightful

emperor and setting up another.

This is to desire rebellion and no less!”

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Han Yu

ON THE FESTIVAL OF THE MOON

TO SUB-OFFICIAL ZHANG

The fine clouds have opened and the River of Stars is gone,

A clear wind blows across the sky, and the moon widens its wave,

The sand is smooth, the water still, no sound and no shadow,

As I offer you a cup of wine, asking you to sing.

But so sad is this song of yours and so bitter your voice

That before I finish listening my tears have become a rain:

“Where Lake Dongting is joined to the sky by the lofty Nine-Doubt Mountain,

Dragons, crocodiles, rise and sink, apes, flying foxes, whimper….

At a ten to one risk of death, I have reached my official post,

Where lonely I live and hushed, as though I were in hiding.

I leave my bed, afraid of snakes; I eat, fearing poisons;

The air of the lake is putrid, breathing its evil odours….

Yesterday, by the district office, the great drum was announcing

The crowning of an emperor, a change in the realm.

The edict granting pardons runs three hundred miles a day,

All those who were to die have had their sentences commuted,

The unseated are promoted and exiles are recalled,

Corruptions are abolished, clean officers appointed.

My superior sent my name in but the governor would not listen

And has only transferred me to this barbaric place.

My rank is very low and useless to refer to;

They might punish me with lashes in the dust of the street.

Most of myfellow exiles are now returning home —

A journey which, to me, is a heaven beyond climbing.”

…Stop your song, I beg you, and listen to mine,

A song that is utterly different from yours:

“Tonight is the loveliest moon of the year.

All else is with fate, not ours to control;

But, refusing this wine, may we choose more tomorrow?”

 

Yuan Jie

A DRINKING SONG AT STONE-FISH LAKE

I have used grain from the public fields, for distilling wine. After my office hours I have the wine loaded on a boat and then I seat my friends on the bank of the lake. The little wine-boats come to each of us and supply us with wine. We seem to be drinking on Pa Islet in Lake Dongting. And I write this poem.

Stone-Fish Lake is like Lake Dongting —

…With the mountain for a table, and the lake a fount of wine,

The tipplers all are settled along the sandy shore.

Though a stiff wind for days has roughened the water,

Wine-boats constantly arrive….

I have a long-necked gourd and, happy on Ba Island,

I am pouring a drink in every direction doing away with care.


Han Yu

MOUNTAIN-STONES

 

Rough were the mountain-stones, and the path very narrow;

And when I reached the temple, bats were in the dusk.

I climbed to the hall, sat on the steps, and drank the rain- washed air

Among the round gardenia-pods and huge bananaleaves.

On the old wall, said the priest, were Buddhas finely painted,

And he brought a light and showed me, and I called them wonderful

He spread the bed, dusted the mats, and made my supper ready,

And, though the food was coarse, it satisfied my hunger.

At midnight, while I lay there not hearing even an insect,

The mountain moon with her pure light entered my door….

At dawn I left the mountain and, alone, lost my way:

In and out, up and down, while a heavy mist

Made brook and mountaingreen and purple, brightening everything.

I am passing sometimes pines and oaks, which ten men could not girdle,

I am treading pebbles barefoot in swift-running water —

Its ripples purify my ear, while a soft wind blows my garments….

These are the things which, in themselves, make life happy.

Why should we be hemmed about and hampered with people?

O chosen pupils, far behind me in my own country,

What if I spent my old age here and never went back home?

Du Fu

It is almost as hard for friends to meet

As for the morning and evening stars.

Tonight then is a rare event,

Joining, in the candlelight,

Two men who were young not long ago

But now are turning grey at the temples.

…To find that half our friends are dead

Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief.

We little guessed it would be twenty years

Before I could visit you again.

When I went away, you were still unmarried;

But now these boys and girls in a row

Are very kind to their father’s old friend.

They ask me where I have been on my journey;

And then, when we have talked awhile,

They bring and show me wines and dishes,

Spring chives cut in the night-rain

And brown rice cooked freshly a special way.

…My host proclaims it a festival,

He urges me to drink ten cups —

But what ten cups could make me as drunk

As I always am with your love in my heart?

…Tomorrow the mountains will separate us;

After tomorrow-who can say?

All he can see is the smile of the new love,

While the old love weeps unheard.

The brook was pure in its mountain source,

But away from the mountain its waters darken.

…Waiting for her maid to come from selling pearls

For straw to cover the roof again,

She picks a few flowers, no longer for her hair,

And lets pine-needles fall through her fingers,

And, forgetting her thin silk sleeve and the cold,

She leans in the sunset by a tall bamboo.


Du Fu

SEEING Li Bai IN A DREAM II

 

This cloud, that has drifted all day through the sky,

May, like a wanderer, never come back….

Three nights now I have dreamed of you —

As tender, intimate and real as though I were awake.

And then, abruptly rising to go,

You told me the perils of adventure

By river and lake-the storms, the wrecks,

The fears that are borne on a little boat;

And, here in my doorway, you rubbed your white head

As if there were something puzzling you.

…Our capital teems with officious people,

While you are alone and helpless and poor.

Who says that the heavenly net never fails?

It has brought you ill fortune, old as you are.

…A thousand years’ fame, ten thousand years’ fame-

What good, when you are dead and gone.

Li Bai

PARTING AT A WINE-SHOP IN NANJING

A wind, bringing willow-cotton, sweetens the shop,

And a girl from Wu, pouring wine, urges me to share it

With my comrades of the city who are here to see me off;

And as each of them drains his cup, I say to him in parting,

Oh, go and ask this river running to the east

If it can travel farther than a friend’s love!


Li Bai

A FAREWELL TO SECRETARY SHUYUN

AT THE XIETIAO VILLA IN XUANZHOU

Since yesterday had to throw me and bolt,

Today has hurt my heart even more.

The autumn wildgeese have a long wind for escort

As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.

The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the School of Heaven,

And I am a Lesser Xie growing up by your side.

We both are exalted to distant thought,

Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.

But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,

And sorrows return, though we drown them with wine,

Since the world can in no way answer our craving,

I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishingboat.


Cen Can

A SONG OF RUNNING-HORSE RIVER IN FAREWELL

TO GENERAL FENG OF THE WESTERN EXPEDITION

Look how swift to the snowy sea races Running-Horse River! —

And sand, up from the desert, flies yellow into heaven.

This Ninth-month night is blowing cold at Wheel Tower,

And valleys, like peck measures, fill with the broken boulders

That downward, headlong, follow the wind.

…In spite of grey grasses, Tartar horses are plump;

West of the Hill of Gold, smoke and dust gather.

O General of the Chinese troops, start your campaign!

Keep your iron armour on all night long,

Send your soldiers forward with a clattering of weapons!

…While the sharp wind’s point cuts the face like a knife,

And snowy sweat steams on the horses’ backs,

Freezing a pattern of five-flower coins,

Your challenge from camp, from an inkstand of ice,

Has chilled the barbarian chieftain’s heart.

You will have no more need of an actual battle! —

We await the news of victory, here at the western pass!

 

I decide that not my mother-in-law

 

Liu Changqing
FAREWELL TO A BUDDHIST MONK
Can drifting clouds and white storks
Be tenants in this world of ours? —
Or you still live on Wuzhou Mountain,
Now that people are coming here?


Wei Yingwu
AN AUTUMN NIGHT MESSAGE TO QIU
As I walk in the cool of the autumn night,
Thinking of you, singing my poem,
I hear a mountain pine-cone fall….
You also seem to be awake.


Li Duan
ON HEARING HER PLAY THE HARP
Her hands of white jade by a window of snow
Are glimmering on a golden-fretted harp —
And to draw the quick eye of Chou Yu,
She touches a wrong note now and then.


Wang Jian
A BRIDE
On the third day, taking my place to cook,
Washing my hands to make the bridal soup,
I decide that not my mother-in-law
But my husband’s young sister shall have the fiat taste.


Quan Deyu
THE JADE DRESSING-TABLE
Last night my girdle came undone,
And this morning a luck-beetle flew over my bed.
So here are my paints and here are my powders —
And a welcome for my yoke again.


Liu Zongyuan
RIVER-SNOW
A hundred mountains and no bird,
A thousand paths without a footprint;
A little boat, a bamboo cloak,
An old man fishing in the cold river-snow.


Yuan Zhen
THE SUMMER PALACE
In the faded old imperial palace,
Peonies are red, but no one comes to see them….
The ladies-in-waiting have grown white-haired
Debating the pomps of Emperor Xuanzong.


Bai Juyi
A SUGGESTION TO MY FRIEND LIU
There’s a gleam of green in an old bottle,
There’s a stir of red in the quiet stove,
There’s a feeling of snow in the dusk outside —
What about a cup of wine inside?


Zhang Hu
SHE SINGS AN OLD SONG
A lady of the palace these twenty years,
She has lived here a thousand miles from her home-
Yet ask her for this song and, with the first few words of it,
See how she tries to hold back her tears.


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