Song of the Bronze Statue
In the eighth month of the first year of the Qinglong era, during the reign of Emperor Ming of Wei, the court ordered a palace officer to ride west and bring back the gilded bronze figure of an immortal holding a disc to catch dew made during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han, in order to set it up in the front court. When the palace officer removed the disc and took the statue to his carriage, the bronze figure shed tears. So Li Changji, descended from a prince of the House of Tang, wrote this song.
Gone that emperor of Maoling,
Rider through the autumn wind,
Whose horse neighs at night
And has passed without trace by dawn.
The fragrance of autumn lingers still
On those cassia trees by painted galleries,
But on every palace hall the green moss grows.
As Wei’s envoy sets out to drive a thousand li
The keen wind at the East Gate stings the statue’s eyes…
From the ruined palace he brings nothing forth
But the moon-shaped disc of Han,
True to his lord, he sheds leaden tears,
And withered orchids by the Xianyang Road
See the traveller on his way.
Ah, if Heaven had a feeling heart, it too much grow old!
He bears the disc off alone
By the light of a desolate moon,
The town far behind him, muted its lapping waves.