Words Written to Immortal Yuzhen,
Li Bai (701–762)
There once was a spirit named Yuzhen,
Who went oft to the peak of Taihua.
At dawn she would strike a heavenly drum,
Soaring and prancing on twin dragons.
Struck by lightening, she still didn’t stop,
Traveling through clouds, she left not a trace.
When she come to Mt. Shaoshi,
Who shall she meet but Wangmu (Queen Mother).
The Story of Yuzhen
The Princess Yuzhen was daughter to the Emperor Ruizhong, and sister to the later Emperor Xuanzhong.
In 710, Emperor Ruizong ordered Daoist convents built for the twenty-something Princess Yuzhen and her older sister, Princess ]inxian, likely at Mt. Taihua, China’s holiest peak, near the capital of Chang’an. A likely date for Li Bai’s flattering poem is 725, when the Emperor Xuanzong conducted a Feng Shan ceremony (封禪) at Taihua, offering sacrifices to heaven and earth.
The twenty-something Li Bai (李白) well knew that flattery is becoming, obsequious flattery, especially so.
In Li Bai’s embellishment, Yuzhan becomes Xian (仙人) immortal. She strikes a drum at the peak of Taihua (太華峰), summoning a pair of dragons (龍). Then, she soars in the sky though lightening and thunder, heading to distant Mt. Shoashi (少室), home to the Queen Mother (王母) of the West, the goddess who cares for all female Taoists (Daoists).
Coincidentally, it can be noted that Princess Yuzhen, died in the first year of the new Tang Emperor Suzong (762), the same year as the poet Li Bai.
yùzhēn xiān rén cí
yùzhēn zhī xiān rén
shí wǎng tàihuá fēng。
qīng chén míng tiān
biāo chuā téng shuāng lóng
nòng diàn bù chuò shǒu，
xíng yún běn wú zōng
jǐ shí rù shàoshì
wángmǔ yīng xiāng féng。