FAIRY OF THE MAGPIE BRIDGE

鹊桥仙

Fairy of The Magpie Bridge

秦观

Qin Guan

纤云弄巧

Clouds float like works of art,

飞星传恨

Stars shoot with grief at heart,

银汉迢迢暗度

Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid.

金风玉露一相逢

When Autumn’s Golden wind embraces Dew of Jades,

便胜却人间无数

All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.

柔情似水

Their tender love flows like a stream,

佳期如梦

This happy date seems but a dream,

忍顾鹊桥归路

Can they bear a separate homeward way!

两情若是久长时

If love between both sides can last for aye,

又岂在朝朝暮暮

Why need they stay together night and day!


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It is a very famous poetry in China and the most famous sentence is 金风玉露一相逢,便胜却人间无数, which means, in a simple way, is that when the lover met each other, that is the best thing happened in the world.

One of the reasons for its popularisation is that this poem included a romantic love story which very comments reference story which is used a lot in Chinese Poetry. Especially when the poetry is about love and distance.

The story mention in the first sentence and it is an ancient tale between two stars.

In ancient time, there were several beautiful fairies live in the god’s palace (in Chinese: 天宫 Tian Gong), they are God’s daughters. And these fairies sometimes will come to human’s world play and have a bath in waterfalls.

One place near a beautiful waterfall, a young cowboy accidentally find out that his cow is an immortal but punished by the god to be an ox. Therefore the cowboy knows the secret of the fairies, which they relied on their out-dress to go back to the god’s palace.

One day, fairies go to the waterfall for a shower, as usual, the youngest daughter named “Seven” .The ox encouraged him to take the coat of Seven so that Seven cannot get back to the god’s palace anymore and he can then meet Seven. The cowboy did.

After the cowboy met Seven, Seven fall in love with him and they soon get married without God and his wife’s permission. Not surprisedly, the god and his wife got very angry when they heart the news. They decide to punish the cowboy and bring Seven back to the palace.

In the end, after their defiance for their love, the god and his wife be convinced and then allow them to meet once every year. By that time, birds on the sky will help to build a bridge between their stars,  which be name as  Altair (α Aql) and Vega (αLyr) in the real world.

This love story was reflected in a very comment situation in ancient China that lovers may be separated by parents because they don’t have comment family background or they are not in same social class.  However, love is the thing that people always tracing for. Therefore, this story, as a symbol of cross-class love, very commented to be used in Chinese love poetries.

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