A Word From the Palace 1

Gu, Kuang (727?A.D.-816?A.D.)

The song accompanied by wind pipes rose from the jade tower 2 half way to the sky.
The wind carried the laughter of the imperial concubines harmonizing with the music.
When the moon came out from behind the clouds,
I heard the sound of dripping in the water clock.
I rolled up the crystal curtain to get closer to the Autumn River 3.

1 In this poem, Gu compares himself to an imperial concubine who lost favor of the emperor.
2 The jade tower refers to the palace.

3 The Autumn River refers to the Milky Way. The Chinese call the Milky Way "Yin He" (the Silver River). There is a story about the Milky Way in Chinese mythology. Once upon a time, there was a pair of lovers who indulged in play and did not work. God punished them by changing the man into the Shepherd Star and the woman into the Spider Star (Vega) so that they had to work all the time. One was located in the eastern sky and the other in the western sky. They were allowed to meet each other once a year, the night of July 7th. On that night, the magpies (happy birds) would build a heavenly bridge from east to west so that the man and the woman could meet. The magpies made the Milky Way we see today. Here the imperial concubine compares her suffering to that of the Shepherd Star and the Spider Star.