Monday, October 14, 2002

Beauty on a dark and rainy day

I've been reading the 300 Tang Poems (the Tang Period of Chinese History was 618-907) and was moved by A Song of Unending Sorrow by Bai Juyi. It tells the story of an Emperor who craves "beauty that might shake an empire" and finds it in a new wife.

And the Emperor, from that time forth, forsook his early hearings
And lavished all his time on her with feasts and revelry,
His mistress of the spring, his despot of the night.
There were other ladies in his court, three thousand of rare beauty,
But his favours to three thousand were concentered in one body.


When she dies, he is completely devastated. I want to know if he was consoled by her message from the afterlife:

"Our souls belong together...
On the seventh day of the Seventh-month, in the Palace of Long Life,
We told each other secretly in the quiet midnight world
That we wished to fly in heaven, two birds with the wings of one,
And to grow together on the earth, two branches of one tree."
Earth endures, heaven endures; some time both shall end,
While this unending sorrow goes on and on for ever.


I'm a big fan of tragic love stories - and especially tragicomedies like Cyrano de Bergerac, Love in the Time of Cholera and Oscar and Lucinda. It's the intensity of emotion (of love, pleasure and suffering) and the absurdity and wit that appeal to me. If I have any describable sense of romantic love, that would be it ;)

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