Monday, April 8, 2013

Chogonka-den (extracts)

As I said before, Hiromichi follows his quotation of the entire 長恨歌 with extracts from a prose story called the 長恨歌伝, which is placed before the 長恨歌 in many manuscripts of Bai Juyi's poems.  It is by 陳鴻, but I don't know much about him.  I suppose this prose story was already appearing in manuscripts in the Heian period so that it would have been read there.

As with the Chogonka, I will use Hiromichi's 訓点 to make a kundoku (although I filled in some of the okurigana I think he just left out as understood).  Each paragraph represents one extract, so between each paragraph there is some omitted material.  Hiromichi's extracts make up about 25-30% of the whole thing -- he seems to cut parts that are in the Chogonka (like the entire episode of the priest visiting Yang Guifei's spirit).  I am not aware of any English translation.

開元中、 泰階平にして、四海(よのうみ)無事(しずかなり)。玄宗、位に在ること歲久しくして、旰(ひたけて)食ひ、宵(よは)に衣るに倦めり。政、大小と無く、始て右丞相に委ぬ。深居游宴して、声色を以て、自ら娛む。

During the Kaiyuan era, the whole populace was content and the land was at peace.  Xuanzong had reigned for a long time, and he had grown tired of governing.  He began to entrust all the matters of state, large and small, to his senior ministers.  He shut himself in his inner chambers and held banquets, pleasuring himself with women.

- The Kaiyuan era was from 731-741.
- 旰食宵衣 literally means to eat late and wear clothes into the night; this is used as an image of a hard-working ruler.


He issued an order to Gao Lishi, and searched the other palaces (for women), finding a daughter of Yang Xuanyan of Hongnong who was then in the Shoudi (residence).  She had already come of age.


The Emperor was exceedingly pleased.


The next year she was named Guifei.  She was treated half as an Empress.  Starting from then, she improved her looks and sharpened her diction, and with her lithe seductiveness she won the heart of the Emperor.  He loved her more and more.

- "Guifei" was evidently a name for one of four high-ranking consorts under the Empress.

三夫人、九嬪、二十七世婦、八十一御妻、暨び後宮の才人、楽府の妓女有と雖でも、天子をして顧盼の意無らしむ。 是自、六宮復た幸を進る者なし。徒に殊艷尤態、是を致すのみに、蓋し才智明慧、善巧便佞、意に先ち、旨に希ひ、形容すべからざる者有り。叔父、昆弟、皆列て清貴に在り。爵、通侯為。姊妹、国夫人に封ぜらる。当王室に埒(ひとし)。

Although the palace included three fujin, nine hin, twenty-seven seifu and eighty-one gyosai, not to mention the palace dancers and singers, none of them could make the Emperor so much as glance at them.  But it was not only her exceptional beauty that won the Emperor's heart -- who is able to describe the extent of her skill and diction?  Her male relatives were all given high positions and corresponding rank, and her sisters were made fujin, fit to be with the Emperor in his bedroom.

- I discussed these women in the first sentence, although there it was 女御 rather than 御妻.


When they went in and out of the palace gates, no one even asked their names, and the officials could only avert their eyes.

天宝の末、兄の国忠丞相の位を盗み、國柄に愚弄す。安祿山兵を引て闕に向ふに及て、楊氏を討するを以て、辞と為。潼關守らず、翠華南に幸す。咸陽の道に出て馬嵬の亭(たびや)に次(やど)る。六軍徘徊して、戟を持て進まず。従官郎吏、上の馬の前に伏して、錯を誅して以て天下に謝せんと請ふ。国忠氂纓盤水を奉して、道の周(ほとり)に死す。左右之意、未だ快らず。上之を問ふ。当時敢て言ふ者、貴妃を以て天下の怨を塞んと請ふ。上免を知ざること、其の死を見るに忍びず,袂を反して、面を掩ひ、之を牽て去らしむ。倉皇展転、竟に就を尺組の下に絶す。 既にして玄宗、成都に狩す。肅宗、禅を霊武に受。明年、大兇元を帰し、大駕都に還る。玄宗を尊て太上皇と為す。南宮に就養す。西内に遷る。

At the end of the Tianbao period (742-756), Guifei's brother Guozhong took the Chancellor's office by force, and misused his political power.  An Lushan took troops from the palace, intent on defeating Guozhong.  They overcame the Tong barrier pass, and the Imperial flag moved south.  The Emperor set out on the Xianyang road and stopped at Mawei station.  The Imperial forces fell prostrate before the Emperor's horse, begging him to defeat Yang Guozhong.  Guozhong, arrayed in humble clothing, was killed on the road.  However, the officials were still not pleased.  The Emperor asked them why, and someone told him that he would have to appease the anger of Heaven by having Yang Guifei killed.  The Emperor saw that he could not avoid this, but he couldn't stand to watch her death.  He covered his face with his sleeves as she was hauled away.  She struggled but was strangled to death with a cord.  Xuanzong then moved to Chengdu, and his son Suzong was made Emperor at Lingwu.  The next year, An Lushan was defeated and they returned to the capital.  Xuanzong was named Retired Emperor, and the south palace was prepared for him, but he went to the Western palace instead.

- This section is a little hard to follow because the account of the rebellion is very compressed and selective.


Around that there was a Daoist priest who came from Shu.  When he found out about the Emperor's grief for Yang Guifei, he told the Emperor himself that he knew the arts of Li Shaojun.  Xuanzong was very happy, and charged the priest to go find her spirit.  The priest immediately used his art to search for her, but he couldn't find her.  He used heavenly powers to go to the heavens and the realm of the dead, but though he searched for her, he could not find her.

- Li Shaojun was a Daoist priest during the Han era; the SKT notes say that this is probably meant to evoke Emperor Han's grief for Li Fujin but the reference is wrong.


The priest returned, and Xuanzong was crushed.  He was unhappy, and in the fourth month of that year he went to the Southern palace.

- The den does have the story of the priest finding Guifei's spirit and receiving the mementos, but Hiromichi cuts it entirely.  The extracts here give the impression that the priest just immediately goes back to the Emperor having failed.

So that's the Chogonka-den, and I'm finally done with these stupid things.  Next I can return to the actual Genji.  I'm hoping to do updates about twice a week, probably more like every 4-5 days.


  1. Some random newbieApril 13, 2013 at 12:41 AM

    For those who didn't notice it, the 錯 in 請㆘誅㆑錯以謝㆓㆖天-下㆒ is for Chao Cuo

    1. Yes, that was mentioned in the notes in the SKT version -- I didn't annotate this one as fully as I could have.