Xixiangji

Foreword


Extra as OLD LADY enters and opens

OLD WOMAN
My name is Zheng, and my husband's name was Cui. He occupied the post of Chancellor in the previous dynasty, but unfortunately he passed away from an illness. We had only one daughter, and her childhood name was Ying-ying. She is 19 years old now, and in sewing and female vocations, as well as poetry, writing, and arithmetic, there is nothing that she can't do. In the days when the Chancellor [my husband] was still alive, he betrothed her to my nephew, the oldest son of Zheng Shangshu, Zheng Heng, to be his wife. Because my daughter's period of mourning for her father is still not complete, however, they still have not been able to complete their union. Also there is one servant girl who has attended on my daughter since she was young; her name is Hong. There is also a servant boy, and his name is Huan. After the death of my late husband, I and my daughter have been taking the coffin to Boling to lay him to rest, but because the road is blocked off we haven't been able to get there and have come to Hezhong prefecture. We put the coffin inside of Pujiu temple. This temple was renovated by the late Chancellor, though it was first established by Empress Zetian. Moreover, the head abbot also is a monk that became ordained because of the Chancellor, so thereby we have settled in a room in the western wing. On the other hand, I have written a letter to be sent to the capital summoning Zheng Heng here, and together we will take the casket to Boling. I remember back in the days of my late husband, the spread of food before us was three square meters, and our servants numbered in the hundreds. Now there are only these few who are like kin to us: how tragic it is!

Xianlu Shanghuashi
My husband's life ended in the capital,
Child and mother, orphan and widow, have reached the end of their road,
So we've set the casket in the palace of Brahma.
I look to the ancient tombs of Boling,
Tears of blood spray the cuckoo red.
Now spring is ending: how hard it is! I must summon Hong here and instruct her. Hong, where are you?

Enter HONG

OLD WOMAN
Go look in the Buddhist hall to see if anyone is burning incense, and get your mistress and amuse yourselves for a bit.

HONG
As you say.

Exit OLD WOMAN

HONG
Miss?

Enter YING-YING

HONG
The missus wants us to go to the Buddhist hall for some recreation.

YING-YING sings
As it turns out, east of Pu Commandery I see the end of spring,
The gates of this temple are closed with double-bolts.
The flowers fall and the waters run red,
My sorrows are too many to count,
I have no words to speak against the east wind.

Exit ALL

ACT I


Enter ZHANG GONG on horse with ATTENDANT

ZHANG GONG
My name is Zhang Gong, styled Junrui, and I am originally from Luo. My father held office as Director in the Ministry for Rites, and he did not die until five times ten years, but because of an illness he passed. After one more year my mother died. I wander with book and sword, my achievements not yet accomplished, and I drift about the four quarters. Now it is the 17th year of Zhengyuan [802], in the middle of Feburary, and Emperor Dezong reigns; I want to go to the capital and sit for exams. My road now passes through Hezhong prefecture, and though the pass of Pu, where I have an old friend named Du Que, styled Junshi. Together we are fellow countrymen and students, and from the beginning we have been like brothers. Later he gave up on studies and became a warrior, and he was the top of his class, given the title General of the West, and he commands an army of 10,000 men who guard the pass of Pu. I'll see my brother then I want to go to the capital to pursue advancement. I remember the dark times when the light of fireflies reflected off the snow to light the desk by the window: I shaved off the grime and polished myself so I would shine, completed my studies and filled my stomach with literature, but I still wander lake and sea. When will I achieve my great ambitions? 10,000 golden swords are hoarded in the waters of autumn, and the sadness of spring weighs on my embroidered saddle.

Xianlu Dianjiangchun
I float about the central plain for study,
but my legs have no root,
like a tumbleweed blown by the wind.
I look to the heavens,
the sun is near, but Chang'an is distant.

Hunjianglong
Turning to the Poems and Documents,
Like a bookworm I never emerged from my research.
I will keep warm the examination room,
and wear through an iron inkstone.
Before I can embark on the 90,000 ri cloud journey of the roc,
I must first sit for 20 years by the snowy window lit by fireflies.
Great talent is difficult to put into the customs of mean people,
while time runs counter the wishes of men cannot be attained.
Emptily I carve insects and engrave seals,
Knitting together verses of broken text.
During this time I travel,
and have reached Pu Jin.
The Yellow river has nine bends,
this is the site of ancient Henei,
look well upon the scenery!

Youhulu
Where are the wind and waves of the nine forks made manifest,
except in this place?
The river bands Qi and Liang,
it divides Qin and Jin,
confines You and Yan.
Snow waves strike the long sky,
At the edge of heaven autumn clouds swirl;
bamboo cables of the floating bridge,
the blue dragon lies atop the water.
East and west it floods nine states,
North and south it penetrates one hundred rivers.
Can we see the speed of a returning vessel,
Like an arrow leaving the string?

Tianxialiao
I suspect the Milky Way falls to the nine heavens,
From the abyss a fountain of clouds hangs down,
it enters the eastern sea; not distant from here it passes through.
1,000 kinds of flowers grow in Luoyang,
it irrigates the 10,000 fields of Liangyuan.
In the past it floated a raft to the edge of the sun and moon.
While speaking, we've already arrived in the town.
There's an inn here. Servant, take the horse. Where is the innkeeper?

Enter INN KEEPER

INN KEEPER
I'm the inn keeper. If you need a place, I have a dry, clean room.

ZHANG GONG
I'll stay in a first-class room. First go feed the horse.
Inn keeper, come here.
I want to ask you if there are any places around here where I can amuse myself: Famous mountains or superb places, auspicious land or uncommon places?

INN KEEPER
There is one temple here, called Pujiu temple. It was established by Empress Zetian, and its construction is not common. Its sparkling glass halls approach the blue sky, and its pagoda of relics invades the cloudy Han. Coming south or going north, those of the three teachings or nine schools, those who pass do not fail to admire it, and it is only there that a gentleman can amuse himself.

ZHANG GONG
Servant, make my lunch. I'll run there for a bit and then come back.

ATTENDANT
I'll make lunch and after feeding the horse wait for you to come home.

Exit ATTENDANT. Enter CONG

CONG
I am the monk Facong, a student of the abbot of this Pujiu temple. Today my teacher is having a vegetarian diet, and had me stay in the temple, and if there is someone searching for him, I should make a record, then I'll let him know when he gets back. Now I'm standing in front of the gate to see if anyone comes.

ZHANG GONG
I'm here already.

ZHANG GONG sees CONG, and CONG asks ZHANG GONG[[/span]]

CONG
Visitor, where are you from?

ZHANG GONG
I am from western Luo. I heard of the supreme elgance of this temple, and have come to admire the Buddhist statues, and also to give my regards to the abbot. Is he here now?

CONG
My master is not in the temple. I am his humble student Facong. Would you like to come to the three square meter room for some tea?

ZHANG GONG
The abbot isn't here, I don't need to drink any tea, but it would be great if I could impose on you to give me a tour.

CONG
This humble monk will get the keys and open the door to the Buddhist hall, bell tower, pagoda, Luohan hall, incense closet, and the refectory, and by then the master should have returned.

ZHANG GONG
The architecture here is quite superb.

Cunliyagu
Amusing myself at the Buddhist hall, I have already arrived at the monk's hall below.
Passing though the kitchen to the west, with the Dharma hall to the north, I am before the bell tower. Going by the cistern, I climb the pagoda, and passing everywhere through tortuous hallways, I finish counting the Luohan, attending on the bodhisattvas, and bowing to the holy virtuous.

Enter YING-YING leading HONG holding the branch of a flower

YING-YING
Hong, let's go to the Buddhist hall.

ZHANG GONG sees YING-YING

ZHANG GONG
Whoa! I've run right into my destined love from 500 years ago.

Yuanheling
I've seen a million that could put me into a daze,
but a face like this fair girl's is rarely seen.
A man's eyes raise up like flowers and he is struck dumb,
and his soul will fly halfway to heaven.
There she is, without theatrics, showing her sweet-smelling shoulders,
Just smiling and holding the flower.

Shangmajiao
This is Tusita Palace, xx Heaven of Seperation and Regret.
Who would think that I would meet a divine being in this temple?
I see her face, perfect for rage and perfect for joy, like a spring wind,
just right to be decorated with kingfisher feathers.

Shenghulu
I see her palace-like eyebrows like new moons,
invading the border of her cloud of hair.

YING-YING
Hong, look at these lonely monks chambers where men do not go, filling the steps, moss, and fallen red flowers.

ZHANG GONG
I'm dead. Without even speaking in front of someone she's shy,
the red of cherry blossoms is split,
exposed like a white ball of rice,
words from an open mouth at noon.

Mapian
Like an oriole singing outside of flowers.
Every step she takes drives a man to pity,
Her waist dances loosely, and her legs are tender and soft.
A thousand gently wavering delicacies,
Ten thousand romantic fluttering flags,
like a willow wavering in the night breeze.

HONG
Someone is here: let us return.

Turn back and exit YING-YING and HONG

ZHANG GONG
Monk, Guanyin appeared before me!

CONG
What madness do you speak? That's the daughter of Chancellor Cui, from the offices of Hezhong.

ZHANG GONG
A girl like that in the world,
What a heavenly figure!
Look at her figure,
just her tiny feet are worth 100 kou of gold.

CONG
She's so far away, she's there and you're here, and she's wearing a long dress: how do you know that her feet are small?

ZHANG GONG
Facong, come on! You ask how I can know this — just look!

Houtinghua
If there were no padded red remnants in the wake of her path,
How could her steps in the fragrant dust be so shallow?
Not to mention the corners of her eyes, where feeling remains,
As her footfalls contain her heart.
She slowly moves,
until she reaches the threshold of the gate,
and one step takes her away.
By chance I saw her shining face,
And sent this Zhang cum laude into madness.
Like a divine spirit returning to heaven,
Emptiness remains after she goes like a wisp of smoke,
leaving nothing to hear but the singing of the sparrows.

Liuye'er
Unbelievable, that the gate should conceal a pear blossom deep within in the temple,
it's plastered walls as high as the blue heavens.
Curse heaven, heaven that inconveniences men,
That makes it so hard for me to rest,
Really, how can I keep going?
Miss, you've lead me into a mess of desire!

CONG
Give it a rest. She's the daughter of a Hezhong official, and she's already gone.

ZHANG GONG
Jisengcao:
The fragrance of the orchids is here,
but the sound of her accessories grows farther away.
The east wind shakes the branches of the willow,
Threads of silk incite the peach blossoms to movement,
Jeweled banners hide and show her face like a hibiscus.
You know she is from the family of the Chancellor of Hezhong,
I know she is Guanyin as the moon in the waters of the south seas.
For ten years I did not know the face of my king,
Only now do I believe that beauty can release a man to folly.
I'm not going to the capital for exams.

ZHANG GONG faces CONG

ZHANG GONG
May I impose on you, monk, to ask the master about a monk's cell, where from morning to night I can study the classics — it will be better than the hubbub inside of an inn. I can pay whatever rent is necessary. Tomorrow I'll come back.

Zhuansa
My starving eyes hope sincerely, and my hungry mouth salivates so much that swallowing is an empty act.
I am infected with thoughts to bone and marrow with no relief,
How I am struck with the autumn ripples that she turned toward me when she went.
No need to think it's me, as even the thoughts of a man of steel and stone would have been stirred up and his passions led along.
Near the eaves of the garden, the flowers and willows fight, and at noon the sun hits the garden and the pagoda shadow is round.
The radiance of spring is before my eyes, and this person of pure jade is no longer to be seen.
Will I sit in the palace of Brahma, though I suspect it is the fountain of Wuling?

Exit ALL

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