Ying-ying Zhuan by Yuan Zhen. 

The Biography of Ying-ying — Enthrallment to Beauty, Destruction by Desire
tr. Ⓒ Patrick Moran 2011

唐貞元中,有張生者,性溫茂,美風容,內秉堅孤,非禮不可入。或朋從遊宴,擾雜其間,他人皆洶洶拳拳,若將不及;張生容順而已,終不能亂。以是年二十三, 未嘗近女色。知者詰之,謝而言曰:「登徒子非好色者,是有兇行。余真好色者,而適不我值。何以言之?大凡物之尤者,未嘗不留連於心,是知其非忘情者也。」 詰者識之。
In the Zhen-yuan period of the Tang dynasty, there was a young man surnamed Zhang.  He was by nature warmly ebullient, and was gifted with an attractive deportment and mien, while internally his endowments made him resolute and standoffish. He would not enter into any activity that was against the dictates of proper decorum. Should he happen to accompany his friends to their banquets, he might partake of their festivities in a peripheral way, [but even though] the other people would all tumultuously contend with each other, as though fearing to be left behind, the student Zhang was complaisant of demeanor and nothing more, so that to the end it was impossible to involve him in any disorderly conduct or impropriety. Due to the fact that in that year he was already twenty-two years old and had as yet never been intimately acquainted with feminine charms, those who knew of this circumstance ragged him about it unmercifully, whereupon he sought to exculpate himself by saying: "Lechers do not truly love feminine charms, for they engage in licentious behavior. I am one who truly loves feminine charms, yet those ladies who have come to my attention have as yet not truly merited my esteem. What might that mean? In general, the most exceptional of things have never failed to leave an impression on me, and by this I know that the ladies I have met have not been enough to intoxicate me." Those who had ragged him took cognizance of these remarks.

Before long, the student Zhang traveled to Pu. Somewhat more than ten li to the east of Pu there was a habitation for Buddhist monks called the Temple of Universal Salvation, and the student Zhang took abode therein. By sheer coincidence, a certain widow, whose married name was Cui, was returning to Chang-an and in the course of her journey to Pu also took up abode in those temple grounds.

This Widow Cui was by birth a daughter of the Zheng clan. The student Zhang also had a maternal relationship to the Zheng clan. Upon tracing back their family connections they discovered that Widow Cui was an aunt of his from a different branch of the family tree.

That year General Hun-zhen died in Pu, and, as the eunuch Ding Wen-ya was not good at military management, the garrison troops soon fell into disorder and took much plunder among the people of Pu.

The family of Widow Cui possessed great wealth and many bondservants, and their quarters were in a panic. They did not know upon whom to depend.

Prior to this time, Zhang had established extremely good relationships with the clique of the general [in charge of the garrison] at Pu, so he begged the services of that general's subordinates to protect them, and in that way they escaped from harm. After more than ten days the incorruptible official Du Que, carrying the mandate of the Emperor, acted upon his authority as Commandant to order those troops to adhere to the regulations, and the troops thereupon ceased their depredations.

鄭厚張之德甚,因飾饌以命張,中堂宴之。復謂張曰:「姨之孤嫠未亡,提攜幼稚,不幸屬師徒大潰,實不保其身,弱子幼女,猶君之生,豈可比常恩哉?今俾以仁 兄禮奉見,冀所以報恩也。」命其子,曰歡郎,可十餘歲,容甚溫美。次命女:「出拜爾兄,爾兄活爾。」久之,辭疾,鄭怒曰:「張兄保爾之命,不然,爾且擄 矣,能復遠嫌乎?」
The Widow Zheng greatly appreciated the merit gained by Zhang in this instance. She prepared a feast for Zhang, and entertained him in the central hall. At that time she said: "This widow, who has not yet come to the end of her life, bringing immature children in her company, unfortunately became involved with troops that had lost their proper esprit de corps, and so was indeed unable to protect herself. My defenseless son and fledgling daughter owe their lives to you, sir. How could this be comparable to an ordinary favor? Now I, your servant, present myself before you with the ceremony appropriate to receiving a person of great benevolence. It is my hope that by this means I may repay your kindness." Then she commanded her son, Huan-lang, who was perhaps somewhat more than nine years old, and whose countenance was both amiable and handsome [to pay his respects]. Next she called upon her daughter to come forth and pay her respects to Zhang, saying, "Your cousin has given you back your life!" After much time had passed, her daughter [still did not come out and] excused herself on the grounds of illness. The Widow Zheng was angered and said: "Cousin Zhang has protected your life. Had he not done so, you would have been abducted. Can you possibly continue to remain so distant in your distaste?"

After another long time had passed she finally arrived. She wore her ordinary clothing and smudged makeup (lit., cui rang, ruined appearance); she wore no adornments. The two tall buns into which her hair had been arranged drooped down to her eyebrows, and there was a remaining trace of rouge on her cheeks, but nothing more. [Nevertheless,] her complexion was extraordinarily beautiful; she was so radiant that her appearance could not fail to move people.

An amazed Zhang made an obeisance to her. She sat down at Widow Zheng's side, and because she was there under duress, she gazed fixedly to the side with an expression of resentment and alienation, as though she could not stand his presence. Zhang asked how old she was. Widow Zheng said: "It is now the seventh moon of the Geng-zhen reign period, so she must be sixteen years old."

Zhang tried to lead her into discussion, but she would not respond. He did not stop doing so until the end of the feast.

From that time on Zhang was enthralled by her. He was very much willing to express his true feelings, but there was no means by which he might convey them to her. The bondservant of Cui Ying-ying was called Hong-niang. The student [Zhang] on several occasions greeted her on the sly, and [finally] took advantage of such an occasion to tell her what was in his heart. As one might expect, the bondservant was greatly alarmed by such behavior and fled the scene in total embarrassment. The student Zhang regretted his brashness.

The following day the bondservant came on the scene again and then the student Zhang felt shame and begged pardon for his offensive behavior. He did not again mention what he was seeking. Therefore, the bondservant said to Zhang: "What the gentleman has said is something that I would not dare to repeat; it is also something that I would not dare to disclose to outsiders. Nevertheless, you are well aware of Miss Cui's connection to your family. Why do you not seek her hand in marriage on the grounds of your merit for saving the family?"

Zhang said: "From my infancy, my nature has never been such as to participate in illicit relationships. When I have in the past had occasion to dwell in the midst of silks and satins, I have not let my eyes wander. But now I am not as I was in days of yore, when there was always, in the end, something that attenuated [my passions]. During the entire banquet yesterday, I could hardly contain myself. During the past several days I have been unaware of my feet while walking and forget to eat enough. I am afraid I will not survive for another day and night.

If I marry her by means of the [traditional] matchmaker, the giving of betrothal gifts and the inquiries to select an auspicious day, I fear I will be found in the racks of the dried fish merchants. What would you advise me to do?"

The bondservant said: "Because of her correct firmness, her carefulness and self-protectiveness, even someone she deeply respected would not be permitted to assault her with words that go against the norms of propriety. So the plots of an inferior person would indeed be hard put to find a chink in her armor. Nevertheless, she excels at composition and is always pondering over chapters and verses, spending long hours over writings that she envies. Milord might try to disorder (sway) her with poetic expressions of feelings. Otherwise, there is no way to proceed.

Zhang was greatly pleased and immediately composed two vernal lyrics to present to her. That evening Hong-niang reappeared holding a varicolored tablet to present to Zhang and said: "This is by order of Cui." She had entitled her poem "Bright Moon the Night of the Fifteenth," and the lyric said:

"Await the moon below the western chamber,
Welcoming the wind, the door is half ajar.
Brushing the wall, the shadow of flowers moves.
I think it is my beloved at the door."

Zhang thought he caught her drift. That evening was the fourteenth day of the second month of the year. To the east of the Cui's apartment there was one flowering almond tree, and by clambering up it one could surmount [the wall]. On the night of the fifteenth, Zhang climbed in using the tree and entered the western chamber, whereupon he discovered that the door was half open.

Hong-niang was asleep on a bed, so Zhang's entry startled her. Fearfully, Hong-niang said: "Sir, what are you doing here?" Zhang stretched things a bit by saying: "The missive from Miss Cui has summoned me. Tell her for me." Before long, Hong-niang returned and continued the conversation: "She is on her way. She is on her way."

張生且喜且駭,必謂獲濟。及崔至,則端服嚴容,大數張曰:「兄之恩,活我之家,厚矣。是以慈母以弱子幼女見托。奈何因不令之婢,致淫逸之詞,始以護人之亂 為義,而終掠亂以求之,是以亂易亂,其去幾何?試欲寢其詞,則保人之姦,不義;明之於母,則背人之惠,不祥;將寄與婢僕,又懼不得發其真誠。是用託短章, 願自陳啟,猶懼兄之見難,是用鄙靡之詞,以求其必至。非禮之動,能不愧心,特願以禮自持,無及於亂。」言畢,翻然而逝。
Zhang was at once delighted and terrified, telling himself that he was soon to receive his salvation. When Cui arrived, she was dressed in impeccable form and, displaying a severe demeanor, bitterly enumerated the counts of her indictment against Zhang, saying: "My elder cousin's merit in saving my family was great. Therefore, my loving mother entrusted to you her defenseless son and her immature daughter. How is it that you depend on an insubordinate bondservant to deliver a depraved and dissolute lyric? In the beginning you committed an act of righteousness by protecting others from [the perils of] civil disorder, but in the end you seek [the one you earlier saved] by means of plunder and depredation. To do so is to exchange a [personal] disorder for a [civil] disorder. Where will that lead to? I truly desired to pay no heed to your remarks, but then to do so would be to protect the iniquities of others, which would be unrighteous. If I were to make matters clear to my mother, then I would in so doing ignore your previous beneficence, which would be inauspicious. Were I to entrust [my communication] to my lowly maidservant, then I would fear that you would not be made aware of my genuine and honest reaction. I was inclined to put my trust in a brief written communication, but feared that to do might put milord in a difficult situation. For that reason I used my wretched poetry in order to assure that you would surely come here. When an action is not in accord with the proprieties, can one fail to feel deep regret? I am most hopeful that you will constrain your actions by the proprieties, and will not permit things to get out of hand." When she had finished speaking, she spun around in place and then departed.

張自失者久之,復踰而出,於是絕望。數夕,張生臨軒獨寢,忽有人覺之。驚駭而起,則紅娘斂衾攜枕而至。撫張曰:「至矣!至矣!睡何為哉?」並枕重衾而去。 張生拭目危坐久之,猶疑夢寐,然而修謹以俟。俄而紅娘捧崔氏而至,至則嬌羞融冶,力不能運支體,曩時端莊,不復同矣。是夕旬有八日也,斜月晶瑩,幽輝半 床。張生飄飄然,且疑神仙之徒,不謂從人間至矣。有頃,寺鐘鳴,天將曉,紅娘促去。崔氏嬌啼宛轉,紅娘又捧之而去,終夕無一言。張生辨色而興,自疑曰: 「豈其夢邪?」及明,睹妝在臂,香在衣,淚光熒熒然,猶瑩於茵席而已。
Zhang's dumbfounded state persisted for a long time, but at last he went back over [the wall], and from that time forward he lost all hope. A few evenings later, however, Zhang was alone in his quarters, asleep under the eaves, when suddenly something awoke him, and he sprang up in alarm. Hong Niang had come in carrying a large comforter and a pillow. She shook Zhang and said: "She is on her way. She is on her way. What are you doing sleeping?" She put the pillows side by side and laid the comforter on top of the one that was already there, and then left. Zhang rubbed his eyes and sat for a long time as though besieged, fearing that he was still dreaming; nevertheless he occupied his time of waiting by trying to prepare what he should say. Before much more time had elapsed, Hong Niang came in, supporting Ying-ying with both hands. When Ying-ying entered, she acted bashful and complaisant, and she seemed not to have enough strength to move her own four limbs. The sternness of the earlier time was no longer in evidence. That evening was the eighteenth day after the new moon. The slanting rays of the moon were like a crystalline firefly, and kept the bed half in darkness. Zhang was in a dither and suspected he was sleeping with a fairy immortal, one who did not come from the world of common human beings. After what seemed like a mere instant, the temple bell tolled; it was soon to be dawn. Hong Niang hurried her to leave. Ying-ying bashfully sobbed and clung ingratiatingly, and Hong Niang again supported her with both hands as she left. During the whole time Ying-ying had not said a single thing. Zhang awoke again at false dawn. In doubt of himself he said: "Surely it must have been a dream?!" But when it became fully light, her makeup was on his shoulder, her fragrance was on his clothing, and her tears glistened as though they were dew beaded on the moss.

For more than ten days after that Zhang tried but could get no further word from her. He wrote a poem in thirty rhymed verses, "Meeting with an Immortal," but before he had finished it, Hong Niang happened by. So he gave it to her that she might convey it to Ying-ying. Thereafter she again accepted him, and he left secretly at dawn only to come back stealthily at night, and the time they spent together in what she had earlier called the Western Chamber was approximately one month.

常詰鄭氏之情,則曰:「我不可奈何矣。」因欲就成之。無何,張生將之長安,先以情喻之。崔氏宛無難詞,然而愁怨之容動人矣。將行之再夕,不可復見,而張生遂西下。 數月,復遊於蒲,會於崔氏者又累月。崔氏甚工 刀劄,善屬文,求索再三,終不可見。往往張生自以文挑,亦不甚睹覽。大略崔之出人者,藝必窮極,而貌若不知;言則敏辯,而寡於酬對。待張之意甚厚,然未嘗 以詞繼之。時愁豔幽邃,恆若不識;喜慍之容,亦罕形見。
Zhang frequently made inquiry concerning the emotional reaction of the Lady of the Zheng clan (i.e., Ying-ying's mother), so she said [that her mother's reaction was]: "I can do nothing about it [now]. Bring the matter to a conclusion in whatever way pleases you." Before long, when Zhang was about to go to Chang-an, he first made known to her his true feelings. Ying-ying was yielding and did not verbally reprove him, but her appearance conveyed a moving sense of blame. Two nights before he was to leave it became impossible for them to meet again. So Zhang went off to the west. After several months had passed he again travelled to Pu. He met with Ying-ying as before over the course of several months. She was good at calligraphy and composition, but although he sought permission over and over again to see her work, he never was permitted to do so. It was always the case that he sought to incite her passions by his writings, but that she seemed not to pay much attention to them. In general it may be said that in her various activities Ying-ying's artistry had to be of the highest caliber, but to judge by her appearance she was oblivious to this fact. In speech she was adept at analysis, yet she was sparse in her responses to others. She was very generous in the intent of her treatment of Zhang, but she never followed up on any of this in her words. At times unfathomable in her melancholy beauty, it was nevertheless as though she herself were totally oblivious to her own emotions. She also seldom revealed signs of happiness. or of distress.
Photo of gu qin from Wikipedia Commons    

At another time, she was playing the qin (zither) in solitude. The music was saddening and conveyed hurt feelings. Zhang secretly listened to it, and when he [later] begged her [to play more] she thereupon permanently ceased playing. Because of this interaction, Zhang was even more deeply enthralled by her.

Before long, because the literary examination had come of term, Zhang was once again required to go to the west.

當去之夕,不復自言其情,愁歎於崔氏之側。崔已陰知將訣矣,恭貌怡聲,徐謂張曰:「始亂之,終棄之,固其宜矣,愚不敢恨。必也君亂之,君終之,君之惠也; 則歿身之誓,其有終矣,又何必深感於此行?然而君既不懌,無以奉寧。君常謂我善鼓琴,向時羞顏,所不能及。今且往矣,既君此誠。」
On the evening before he was required to leave, he did not again seek to express his inner feelings, but mournfully sighed as he sat beside Ying-ying. Ying-ying had already gained an inkling that he would soon be saying farewell, and, with respectful demeanor and gentle tone, she slowly said to Zhang: "In the beginning to bring something to disorder and in the end to discard it is appropriate. This stupid one dares not to hate. Things are as they must be. Milord has begun it, and milord has ended it, and that is his compassionate deed. How can the eternal oath come to an end? And so what need is there to deeply grieve over this journey? However, since milord is in fact unable to let go of these feelings, and is unable to find a way to be at peace in his own heart — milord has frequently said that I am good at the qin, but in the past I have been too reticent to play. Now, since milord is about to go, I will grant milord's heartfelt desire."

Then she had the qin dusted and began to play the "Rainbow Skirts and Feather Jackets", but before a few chords were sounded the sorrowful sound had turned to recrimination and disorder, and it was impossible to tell anymore what song she might be playing. Those who were in attendance at this performance were all sobbing convulsively, Ying-ying suddenly broke off, cast aside the qin, burst into a cascade of tears, and fled back to the Zheng compound, never to come back again.

On the morning of the next day Zhang left, and in the next year he did not win in the literary wars and so remained in the capital. For that reason he sent a message to Ying-ying in order to expand on the meaning of things he had earlier said.

Miss Cui's response is reproduced in rough form below:

「 捧覽來問,撫愛過深,兒女之情,悲喜交集。兼惠花勝一合,口脂五寸,致耀首膏唇之飾。雖荷殊恩,誰復為容?睹物增懷,但積悲歎耳。伏承使於京中就業,進修 之道,固在便安。但恨僻陋之人,永以遐棄,命也如此,知復何言?自去秋已來,常忽忽如有所失,於喧嘩之下,或勉為語笑,閑宵自處,無不淚零。
I have respectfully taken delivery of your letter of inquiry. Your loving concern is excessively deep. This girl's emotional reaction is one of mingled sorrow and happiness. Along with your letter you bestowed upon me accessories to beautify my head and smooth my lips, a flowered tiara and five inches of lipstick. Although I have received signal kindness, for whom would I seek to enhance my appearance? Those several gifts deepen my thoughts, but only to accumulate sorrow and sighs. You have yielded to the bonds of convenience and sought employment by means of your continued presence in the capital, and so with regard to your progress toward self improvement I must steadfastly attend to issues pertaining to your security. It is only that I harbor discontent that this most unworthy person should forever be cast into abandonment. But such is fate, and, that fate being known, what more can be said? Since the time that you left, autumn has come upon us. I continually get the sudden feeling that something has been lost. Amid the clamor and hubbub of daily life, I sometimes force myself to chat and to laugh or smile, but when alone in my leisure there is no time when my tears do not fall like rain. As for the period of sleep and dreams, they too involve mostly feelings of being stifled.

乃至夢寢之 間,亦多感咽。離憂之思,綢繆繾綣,暫若尋常;幽會未終,驚魂已斷。雖半衾如暖,而思之甚遙。
During periods of sleep I most often experience the feeling of suffocation, and thoughts about separation and melancholy, [or else] we seem once more tightly bound together, and, for the moment, it is as it ordinarily was before, yet before the secret meeting has come to an end it is with alarm that our spirits have been torn apart. Although the other half of my coverlet seems warm, the one of whom I dreamt is far, far away.

一昨拜辭,倏逾舊歲。長安行樂之地,觸緒牽情,何幸不忘幽 微,眷念無斁。鄙薄之志,無以奉酬。
No sooner had we bidden each other farewell than the old year was quickly superseded. Chang-an is a place in which to indulge oneself in joy, pummeled by moods and pulled along by feelings. What good fortune might there possibly be that you would not forget our hidden commitments. My most lowly and shallow aspirations can have no way to be honored by their fulfillment.

I have been unable to respond adequately due to my despicable aspirations, And, in regard to our eternal pledge, even though it remains firmly unchanged, in consequence of my lowly earlier expression of mutual dependence, and of our occasional mutual periods of enjoyment and repose, my bondservant was inveigled into delivering the illicit expression of your true feelings. The hearts of maidens cannot, unaided, remain steadfast.

君子有援琴之挑,鄙人無 投梭之拒。及薦寢席,義盛意深,愚陋之情,永謂終託。豈期既見君子,而不能定情,致有自獻之羞,不復明侍巾幘。沒身永恨,含歎何言?倘仁人用心,俯遂幽 眇;雖死之日,猶生之年。如或達士略情,舍小從大,以先配為醜行,以要盟為可欺。則當骨化形銷,丹誠不泯;因風委露,猶託清塵。存沒之誠,言盡於此;臨紙 嗚咽,情不能申。千萬珍重!珍重千萬!
Milord made the provocation of drawing in the lute, but this lowly person failed to [reject the seductive attempt] by hurling a shuttle. By the time that we shared bed and coverlet, the moral commitment was heavy and its significance was deep. My ignorant and vile feelings will forever amount to a lifelong commitment. How might I have anticipated that once having seen milord, and once having been unable to maintain control of my feelings, I would then suffer the shame of making a mockery of myself, and that I would never again be found worthy to openly serve milord? Until the end of my life I will feel eternal sorrow, but, holding back my sighs, what can I say? Should it come to pass that the benevolent one would take heed of his heart and condescend to follow the hidden [commitment], then although it were on the day of my death, it would nevertheless be the year of my [re-]birth. If, on the other hand, the accomplished strategist must overlook his feelings, sacrificing the lesser in order to pursue the greater, and so must view a earlier coupling as disgraceful behavior, and regard the vital pact as an instance of permissible deception, then at the point that my bones are transformed and my body becomes dispersed, my cinnabar commitment will not yet be extinguished. Even though the wind dislodges a drop of dew, it still may take refuge on the pure dust. My entreaties regarding the preservation or loss of our earlier commitment are finished herewith. I gaze down at this sheet of paper, weep and sob. My feelings may not be adequately expressed. For heaven's sake take care of yourself! For heaven's sake take care of yourself!

玉環一枚,是兒嬰年所弄,寄充君子下體所佩。玉取其堅潤不渝,環取其終始不絕。兼亂絲一絇,文竹茶碾子一枚。此數物 不足見珍,意者欲君子如玉之真,弊志如環不解,淚痕在竹,愁緒縈絲,因物達情,永以為好耳。心邇身遐,拜會無期,幽憤所鍾,千里神合。千萬珍重!春風多 厲,強飯為嘉。慎言自保,無以鄙為深念。」
"This jade bracelet is something that I played with as a little girl. I entrust it to supply something for milord to use in adorning his lower body. Jade is chosen for its hardness and glistening luster that is unchanging, and a bracelet is chosen for its unbreakable bond between beginning and end. Together with the bracelet there is one haphazard skein of floss and one tea roller made of veined bamboo. There several things are by no means precious. Their intent is to express the wish that milord might be like the incorruptibility of jade, and that my humble aspirations will remain as unending as a bracelet. The bamboo shows the pattern of streaks of tears, and the twisted and confused threads emulate my melancholy disarray of emotions. I have used these objects to convey my true feelings. May everything be forever good with you. Your heart is near to me, but your body is far distant. Who knows when we may meet again? Our unfulfilled feelings peal forth and unite us over a thousand miles. For heaven's sake take good care of yourself. The winds of springtime are fierce. To force yourself to eat amply would be beneficial. Be careful of what you say and protect yourself. Do not greatly concern yourself with my humble person."

Zhang showed her letter to all those whom he knew, and for that reason many people of that time came to know of it. Yang Ju-yuan, among the best of them, liked certain phrases in her letter, and, basing himself thereon, he wrote a fu entitled, "Poem for Maiden Cui."

[一絕云:「清潤潘郎玉不如,中庭蕙草雪銷初。風流才子多春思,腸斷蕭娘一紙書。」河南元稹,亦續生《會真詩》三十韻。詩曰:微月透簾櫳,螢光度碧空。遙天 初縹緲,低樹漸蔥朧。龍吹過庭竹,鸞歌拂井桐。羅綃垂薄霧,環珮響輕風。絳節隨金母,雲心捧玉童。更深人悄悄,晨會雨濛濛。珠瑩光文履,花明隱繡龍。瑤釵 行彩鳳,羅帔掩丹虹。言自瑤華浦,將朝碧玉宮。因遊洛城北,偶向宋家東。戲調初微拒,柔情已暗通。低鬟蟬影動,回步玉塵蒙。轉面流花雪,登床抱綺叢。鴛鴦 交頸舞,翡翠合歡籠。眉黛羞偏聚,唇朱暖更融。氣清蘭蕊馥,膚潤玉肌豐。無力傭移腕,多嬌愛斂躬。汗流珠點點,髮亂綠蔥蔥。方喜千年會,俄聞五夜窮。留連 時有恨,繾綣意難終。慢臉含愁態,芳詞誓素衷。贈環明運合,留結表心同。啼粉流宵鏡,殘燈遠暗蟲。華光猶苒苒,旭日漸曈曈。乘鶩還歸洛,吹簫亦上嵩。衣香 猶染麝,枕膩尚殘紅。冪冪臨塘草,飄飄思渚蓬。素琴鳴怨鶴,清漢望歸鴻。海闊誠難渡,天高不易沖。行雲無處所,蕭史在樓中。] The poetry above has not been translated.

張之友聞之者,莫不聳異之,然而張志亦絕矣。稹特與張厚,因徵其詞。張曰:「大凡天之所命尤物也,不妖其身,必妖於人。使崔氏子遇合富貴,乘寵嬌,不為 雲,不為雨,為蛟為螭,吾不知其所變化矣。昔殷之辛,周之幽,據百萬之國,其勢甚厚。然而一女子敗之,潰其眾,屠其身,至今為天下僇笑。予之德不足以勝妖 孽,是用忍情。」於時坐者皆為深歎。
Those among Zhang's friends who heard it universally took great exception to [the pessimistic poem]. However, Zhang's intent was unequivocal. Yuan Zhen was especially close to Zhang, and therefor he called the [poem's] words into question. Zhang replied: "In general, the extraordinary creatures that Heaven calls into existence will either torment themselves or torment other people. If the daughter of the Cui family were to come into contact with some noble of wealth, and were to secure his adoration, that would not call forth the clouds, nor would it call forth the rain. Instead it would call forth dragons both scaly and hornless. I do not know [the limit to] what she can bewitch. In ancient times, Xin of the Yin dynasty and You of the Zhou dynasty were both in control of countries with populations in the millions, and their powers were exceedingly great. Yet each was destroyed by a single woman. Their multitudes were dispersed. and they themselves were butchered. They have been the objects of ridicule all the way up to the present. My own virtue is insufficient to overcome her demonic depredations. For that reason I have put a seal on my emotions."  Each person who was in attendance at the time emitted a deep sigh.

After more than a year had passed, Ying-ying had found a protector in another man, and Zhang had also taken a wife. His travels once took him near her new abode, so when her husband made mention of her he indicated that he was her cousin and sought, on that basis, to visit her. Her husband spoke to her of this request, but in the end Ying-ying would not appear. Zhang's sincere regret became manifest in his countenance, and Ying-ying took cognizance of it. She composed a fu in one section, which reads as follows:

Having become emaciated and sallow,
I have turned vacillating and totally unmotivated to arise.
It is not that I am too embarrassed before others,
Rather it is because of you that I am withered and worn,
and it is before you that I am ashamed.

So he saw her nevermore.

Several days later, when Zhang was about to be on his way again, he too wrote a poem, in order to bid her final farewell:

Why speak now of cast-away arrangements?
At that time in the past,
We were spontaneously intimate.
Pray redirect those old passions,
To succor the one with whom you now abide.

自是絕不復知矣。時人多許張為善補過者。予常於朋會之中,往往及此意者,夫使知者不為,為之者不惑。貞元歲九月,執事李公垂,宿於予靖安里第,語及於是。公垂卓然 稱異,遂為《鶯鶯歌》以傳之。崔氏小名鶯鶯,公垂以命篇。
From that time forth they were parted and had no further knowledge of each other. Many people of that time conceded that Zhang was a person good at recovering from false steps. Among gatherings of friends I frequently encountered this opinion: "Let those who are wise not engage in such activities, and let those who slip and so engage in them not lose their heads." In the ninth month of the Zhen-yuan reign period, the superintendent Li Gong-chui stayed overnight at my "Pacification Quarter," and our talks meandered onto this topic. Gong-chui expressed marked disagreement with the above sentiments and as a result he went on to compose the "Ying-ying Aria" to tell her story. (Miss Cui's milk-name was Ying-ying, and that fact provided Gong-chui with his title.)

(The end.)

The image of a gu qin is from Wikipedia Commons. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jiu_Xiao_Huan_Pei.jpg for GNU license.