Enchanting Serenade of Moonlit Trysts

In the ancient city of Kuaiji, Zhao Wenshao, a court attendant in the Eastern Palace, found himself enchanted by the melancholic moonlit nights. Seated on Qingxi Bridge, merely a stone’s throw away from the residence of the esteemed Wang Shuqing, his heart yearned for home.

On one autumn night, Wenshao, immersed in his homesickness, began to sing the sorrowful melody “Black Crows Soar in the Western Night.” The haunting tunes echoed through the stillness of the night, reaching the ears of an unexpected audience.

A mysterious maiden, dressed in a azure gown, appeared and revealed herself as a messenger from Wang Shuqing’s household. She conveyed the lady’s admiration for Wenshao’s singing, inviting him to join their moonlit gathering just a short distance away.

Without suspicion, Wenshao accepted the invitation. The maiden, accompanied by two attendants, arrived promptly. Her age was around fifteen or sixteen, and her graceful presence was accompanied by an aura of innocence. Wenshao inquired about her residence, and she pointed towards the residence of Wang Shuqing, expressing that the lady, upon hearing his song, had sent her to invite him personally.

The rendezvous continued as Wenshao, captivated by the allure of the maiden, sang the melodious “Grass Sprouts on the Plateau.” The harmonious tunes resonated, deepening the connection between the two souls.

As the night unfolded, the maiden suggested a poetic duet, unveiling her mastery of the zheng. The enchanting sounds of the guzheng, accompanied by her lyrical voice, heightened the ethereal atmosphere. They sang “Frosty Morning,” a song expressing the poignant beauty of longing.

Upon the completion of the serenade, the night had grown late. The maiden bid farewell, leaving a token of her appreciation—a golden hairpin for Wenshao. In return, he gifted her a silver bowl and a white crystal spoon.

The mystery remained unsolved as the maiden vanished into the night. When Wenshao visited the temple by the Qingxi Bridge, he discovered the offerings—a white crystal spoon and the untouched guzheng—serving as a testament to the ephemeral encounter.

Original story in 《齊諧記》

會稽趙文韶,為東宮扶侍,坐清溪中橋,與尚書王叔卿家隔一巷,相去二百步許。秋夜嘉月,悵然思歸,倚門唱《西夜烏飛》,其聲甚哀怨。忽有青衣婢,年十五六,前曰:「王家娘子白扶侍,聞君歌聲,有門人逐月遊戲,遣相聞耳。」時未息,文韶不之疑,委曲答之,亟邀相過。須臾,女到,年十八九,行步容色可憐,猶將兩婢自隨。問:「家在何處?「舉手指王尚書宅,曰:「是聞君歌聲,故來相詣,豈能為一曲邪?」文韶即為歌《草生盤石》,音韻清暢,又深會女心。乃曰:「但令有瓶,何患不得水?」顧謂婢子:「還取箜篌,為扶侍鼓之。」須臾至,女為酌兩三彈,泠泠更增楚絕。乃令婢子歌《繁霜》,自解裙帶繫箜篌腰,叩之以倚歌。歌曰:「曰暮風吹,葉落依枝。丹心寸意,愁君未知。歌《繁霜》,侵曉幕。何意空相守,坐待繁霜落。」歌闋,夜已久,遂相佇燕寢,竟四更別去。脫金簪以贈文韶,文韶亦答以銀碗白琉璃匕各一枚。既明,文韶出,偶至清溪廟歇,神坐上見碗,甚疑;而委悉之屏風後,則琉璃匕在焉,箜篌帶縛如故。祠廟中惟女姑神像,青衣婢立在前,細視之,皆夜所見者,於是遂絕。當宋元嘉五年也。

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