Wang Changling

Wang Changling (王昌齡, 698–755) is known primarily as a frontier poet. But he also wrote several poems from a woman’s perspective. One about Princess Pingyang, who helped found the Tang dynasty, and the following poem, which I have chosen to interpret here as if it were written about Zhao Feiyan of the Han dynasty. The story is told that Emperor Cheng wanted to make a dancing girl, Zhao Feiyan, his new empress, but Empress Dowager Wang complained about her origins. Feiyan was often compared with Yang Guifei, the favorite consort of the reigning emperor Xuanzong.

In her Western Palace, the night is still and fragrant flowers fill the air.
She wants the beaded curtains rolled up, for Spring is passing
“Let me embrace the clouds and closely watch the moon
For hazy trees hide the morning sun.”

Western Palace, Spring Complaint, Wang Changling

What will a new day bring?

Like many court officials Wang fell in and out of favor, but on the whole he enjoyed a successful career and met many poets along the way. These poets included Meng Haoran, Li Bai, Wang Wei, and other poetic luminaries. Wang Changling competed in the well known wine shop competition along with the poets Gao Shi and Wang Zhihuan. At the end of his career he was appointed minister of Jiangning county. Then, in 755, during the An Lushan Rebellion, he was killed for unknown reasons by the Governor of Bozhou City in Anhui province.