The Lament in the Spring Palace 1

Wang, Chang Ling (?-756 A.D.?)

The wind last night blew open the peach blossoms around the outdoor well 2.
The moon rose high in front of Wei-yang Palace 3.
Singer Wei won the love of Emperor Wu during the dance at Ping-yang Palace 4.
Because of the spring chill outside the curtain
The emperor bestowed on her a silk gown.

1 Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty doted on Singer Wei. At last he deposed his original queen, Chen, and established Wei as his new queen. Wang uses this story to expose the emperor's ugly behavior of loving the new and loathing the old. In this way, he expressed his sympathy for the royal concubines.

2 Ancient Music says, "A peach tree grows near the outdoor well./A plum tree grows beside the peach tree." This line of Wang's describes how swift (last night) it was that Wei (the peach blossom) won Emperor Wu's (spring wind) favor.

3 This line says that the emperor still went partying in the dead of night. It implies that the revelry might last throughout the night.

4 The chapter titled "The Biography of Emperors' Maternal Relatives" in The History of the Han Dynasty says, "Ping-yang Princess, Emperor Wu's sister, lived in Ping-yang Palace. Zi-fu Wei was her singer. One day Emperor Wu visited his sister. After drinking some wine, he watched singing and dancing of a group of girls. As soon as he saw Wei, he immediately fell in love with her. The emperor enjoyed himself so much that he awarded his sister a hundred pound of gold that night."