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A Mulan Tale with Difference (2)
越剧: 孟丽君
Story of A Chinese Cross Dresser

16 May 2010
 

In the Royal Garden

An episode in the opera, Meng Lijun played by Ms Wang Wenjuan (王文娟), Emperor played by Ms Jin Meifang (金美芳) whose depiction of the emperor is so charming and amusing that it has become a true classic.

上林御苑春光浓,杏花初谢桃花红,春风时好时又恶,花开花落皆春风。

The royal garden in the spring season, peach flowers are in full blossom. Their fate, however, depends on the wind, which is not consistent, now tender now robust.

皇帝:君臣上马缓缓行,不由寡人喜在心,倘若她风流相国是才女,岂不是绝代佳人天赐朕。在金殿图容已透春消息,游上林再施雨露探春心。

Emperor: The monarch and the prime minister, ride on ambling horses side by side, which makes me so thrilled. If the PM is indeed a female, I’ll divorce my empress in the first instance. Now let me make sure she is indeed a lass in man’s dress.

孟丽君:君臣上马缓缓行,一路心中暗沉吟,假言入宫议朝政,原来邀伴游上林,看万岁定然别有意,我该留神处且留神。

Lijun: The monarch and the prime minister, ride on ambling horses side by side, which makes me so concerned. His motivation is rather suspicious, I must be highly vigilant and very cautious.

皇帝:上林三春好风光,君悦臣欢同玩赏。

Emperor: What a magnificent scene in the spring garden, what a marvelous time we spent in each other’s company.

孟丽君:层楼飞阁多玲珑,画栋雕梁好辉煌。

Meng Lijun: The towering terraces, the elegant verandas and the skillfully painted beams are indeed impressive to me.

皇帝:奇花烂漫辅锦绣,佳木葱笼亦馨香。你看那鸿雁飞过声声鸣,卿可知此鸟乃是恩爱禽。

Emperor: The rare blossoms spread all over like a giant carpet, the aging trees shade the ground with verdant green light. Look at these birds, do you know they fall in love with each other at first sight.

孟丽君:臣只闻此鸟识礼仪,你看他该后不前排字行。

Meng Lijun: I’m unaware of their love stories, but I’ve heard they all know their proper places, which is why they can fly in team without chaos.

皇帝:君赐臣一幅湖山收眼底 …

Emperor: I’ve offered you to view this stunning landscape …

孟丽君:臣报君万家忧乐常注心。万岁呀居安思危古之训,微臣岂敢忘重任。

Lijun: I’ll return you with my hard work. Your Majesty, we live in a time of peace and prosperity, but if we pay no attention to the perils in the society, we’ll be in for a nasty surprise of social instability.

皇帝:郦卿你不愧股肱臣,谏君常用良苦心,只是今日游上林,君臣同乐应尽兴,知卿文才如人也风流,朕要你即兴吟诗酬孤韵。

(吟)花朵万枝跃日涌,柳丝千缕细摇风。今日上苑春色好,人面桃花相映红。

Emperor: My dear prime minister, you are indeed the pillar of my imperial court, who never fails to admonish me to stick on to the right route. But today is a day for fun, let’s not worry about the world around. You are renowned for your talent on poem, I would like you to compose verse matching my rhyme:

I don’t know which one is more charming: the peach flowers in sunny reflection, or the beautiful face by the blossom.

孟丽君:(吟)花开花谢园中景,云去云来岭上峰。园中红叶俱飘落,岭上青松色更浓。

Lijun: I know which one is more enduring: the flowers in the garden will not flourish beyond the season, but the pines on the mountain will be forever green.

皇帝:郦卿才华果出众,须臾间字字珠玑和九重,我若能有此贤内助,定是个安邦定国好梓童。趁此处得意春风拂柳丝,我上桥去细观行藏辨姿容。我道你堂堂男子臂力雄,为什么体态娇柔不禁风?

Emperor: Her literature talent is just astonishing, if only I can have her as my full-time companion. Let me make another close examination ... Oh, my dear prime minister, how come as a bloke you were unable to hold your horse's reins tight?

孟丽君:只因我自幼多病常娇养,从小在父母宠爱中,惯坐轿子不骑马,因此是我上桥险把马缰松。

Lijun: Ah, Your Majesty, as a kid I used to get sick quite often, and always traveled by sedan.

皇帝:信步来到龙池边,见龙池中对对游鱼戏水中,我与卿水里照影影成双,正好比一龙一凤喜相逢。

Emperor: I’m viewing the reflection in the pool, and see the profile of a royal couple.

孟丽君:万岁此话理欠通,微臣才疏听不懂,水里纵有双照影,只见龙来不见凤,今日饱览上苑景,谢主款待圣恩重,如今是红日西沉月东斜,微臣我阁事未了先辞君。

Lijun: I have trouble to understand your remark, I only see the reflection of one monarch. Your Majesty, I thank you for your hospitality, but now the sun is setting in the west and I must return to my unfinished official duty.

皇帝:国事不妨明日再了,今日莫扫寡人之兴哦。内伺,摆驾天香阁,待朕与卿痛饮一杯。

Emperor: Leave it for the next day. Tonight let’s drink to our heart's content at the Terrace of Heavenly Scent.

皇帝:(吟)她花奇人间第一香,你人俊貌美艳无双,只为你卿有闭月羞花貌,故而她见你不敢把头昂。郦卿啊人言潘安美书生,我说你郦卿胜十分,日间朝中风波起,皆因你爱卿是貌太俊,怪不得皇甫元帅要戏弄你,就是孤爱你才貌也动心。愿与卿吟诗赏画常聚首,愿与卿说古论今更亲近,愿与卿共掌乾坤理朝政,愿与卿时时刻刻不离分,郦卿啊人言富贵在青春,莫使明月对空樽。

Emperor: This is the most beautiful flower in my garden; you are the most beautiful person in my kingdom. Yet it looks so pale in comparison, so lowers its head in humiliation. My dearest prime minister, Mr Pan is said to be the No. one handsome scholar, I say you are ten-times better. During the morning meeting in court, we had this storm in a teacup, all because you are too charismatic, so I can’t blame the general for losing his mind, 'cause my heart is also after you all the way around. I wish we can share our artistic moment more often, I fancy we can exchange our views without obstruction, I aspire we can forever together reign the kingdom, I hope in no occasion we shall experience a separation. Oh, my dear dear prime minister, the true wealth is one’s youthfulness, let’s not disappoint the moon goddess with our empty wine cups.

孟丽君:想微臣受皇家重用之恩,理应当秉忠心报效朝廷,列三公居相位重任在肩,岂能够受俸禄愧对黎民。万岁呀日间朝中风波起,自信云过天将晴,明月纵劝千杯酒,我视富贵如浮云。

Lijun: I’m grateful for your trust in me with the top official duty, thus obliged to serve the kingdom to my best capacity. O, Sire, the storm in the teacup shall soon be over, once the clouds are dispersed, we’ll again have a sunny weather. I'm not sure what's moon goddess's preference, but to me the wealth and the nobleness are as illusive as the clouds floating in the skies.

The garden crisis was temporarily put on hold due to the unexpected arrival of the empress and an urgent report that PM's residence was caught in fire, which were in fact all pre-arranged by Lijun.

Early next morning, she went to see empress dowager in the excuse of presenting a portrait of Guanyin Bodhisattva, crafted by herself, as her gift since the old lady's birthday was about to come in a few days. Along with the portrait was her letter, detailing her reason for cross-dressing and pleading for dowager’s forgiveness and help.

Lijun was put on trial before the royal court with the top adviser as the co-public prosecutor and the emperor acting as the chief magistrate. Ignoring the strong opposition and protest, the emperor sentenced Lijun to life in palace. But his ruling was reversed by a higher court judge, the empress dowager.

The dowager educated the emperor:

"有道是天高不算高,人心第一高。皇儿啊常言君正臣才贤,社稷重担你要好自挑。倘若居安不思危,难免要身在福中把祸招。皇儿啊楼高要靠根基牢,过河岂能够就拆桥。官如船民如水,掌乾坤犹如水上行船万里遥。顺风顺水好驾舟,逆风逆水舵难操。更何况载舟之水能覆舟,这利弊得失轻重安危你要细推敲。"

"My dear son, haven’t you heard this piece of Chinese wisdom: It is important to secure bliss from heaven, but what is more important is to win the hearts and minds of the majority people in the kingdom*. My dear boy, haven’t you heard this saying: Only when the boss is virtuous he will obtain a dignified team; only when the leader is mindful of danger in times of peace he will regain the order in the face of chaos. My dear child, remember this fact: Only when the foundation is strong a skyscraper can be built; we will lose our support if we allow property developers to demolish the bridge after we crossed the river. The government is like a boat and the people in grassroots are like water; managing the state affairs is similar to sailing a boat in the lake. If we follow the wind and the current, the boat will progress fast; and if we sail against the trend, we may just go stuck. Bearing in mind, my dear kid: Although the water in a river can facilitate a boat to carry out a voyage, it can also tip it over when it is in outrage. Therefore be careful and forever careful with every decision you made, if you don’t want to see the boat capsized. "

The emperor was touched by his mommy's reasoning, and agreed not to appeal higher court's decision. So Meng Lijun was released from the palace and married the young general, her beloved sweetheart, and the couple happily lived together … ever after ...

<< 1 | 2 | 3 >>

*It is not to follow but to lead; not to lead without followers but to convince people to follow.

Prev: A Chinese Cross Dresser (1)
Next: A Chinese Cross Dresser (3)

 
 
RELATED:

A New Approach with Mao Zedong's Characteristics

On 4 July, 1945, Mao Zedong, the late leader of CCP and PRC, met Mr Huang. Huang said to Mao, "I’ve never heard, let along seen any person or family or organisation or dynasty or country being able to break this spell: People always start a new task or a new reform or a new revolution with energetic and disciplined new approach, but the old habits die hard and soon catch up with them, before long everything just return to the old way (其兴也勃焉,其亡也忽焉)."

To which, Mao Zedong replied: We believe we can break this vicious circle through a grassroots movement called people’s democracy [which is different from a superficial and ritualistic voting system-based Western style democracy]. We’ll let ordinary people from grassroots level keep the government in check. When everyone in the society takes the responsibility of monitoring the nation’s political, social and economic system, we'll be able to avoid to go back to the old path following the change in the leadership (只有让人民起来监督政府,政府才不敢松懈。只有人人起来负责,才不会人亡政息).


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