(Enter Guo Ziyi wearing a military uniform and sword.)
Guo: Who can appreciate my ideal high?
Wearing a sword in self-defence, I
Wait for the time to set the world aright;
Then I shall show myself a hero bright.
I am Guo Ziyi, a native of Zheng County. I have mastered military arts and strategies in the hope to become a worthy man and help to bring peace to the empire. Now, having passed the military examinations, I come to the capital to wait for my appointment. I find Prime Minister Yang abusing his power and An Lushan favored by the emperor. The government is going wrong, while a man of my capacity still lacks an official post.
Who knows when I may have the chance to serve my country?
(Singing to the tune of “Good Friends Get Together”)
A hero should carve out his way.
Should I rail at my fate each day?
I laugh at thoughtless swallows in their nest,
Not knowing crows which swarm from east and west.
Can we not guard against caged tiger and bear
But sufer rats and foxes running here and there?
How many times have I risen at cockcrow
To dance alone in woe!
How many ups and downs since olden days!
I mean to win renown to shine always.
I will live if I can,
Not as a woodcutter or fisherman.
I will walk to the market and drink my fill.
(Walking, he sings to the tune of “Joy to be Free”.)
In royal street slowly I go
To unburden a while my woe
And to divert a stranger’s mind.
I see the jostling crowd before and behind
Like drunkards who on foot can’t stand.
Where is the poet sober in a drunkards’ land?
I long to find a companion,
But the fishing marshall’s dead and gone;
The tiger-shooting general I adore
And the courageous warriors are no more. (Exit.)
(Enter a waiter of the tavern.)
Waiter: I swear our tavern is so fine
That in no time we sell out all our wine.
If you have money, you may drink your fill;
If not, you can’t get water as you will.
I am a waiter of Xinfeng Restaurant in the capital. Our restaurant stands between the east and the west market where pass many people. Inhabitants of the capital and travelers beyond, lords and common people, officials and soldiers, all come to our tavern to drink three cups of wine. Some drink only, others have a meal; some take wine home; others feast here. We are kept hard at it. See, here comes another customer.
(Guo Ziyi enters.)
Guo sings to the tune of “Riding to the Capital”:
From far I see
A colorful pavilion in the shade
Of a green willow tree,
With a blue sign of trade
Flying in the light breeze.
I’d find a hero to drink with me as we please.
(Calling out) Where is the waiter?
Waiter (Greeting him): Come upstairs, sir.
Guo (Going upstairs): This is a fine tavern.
The breeze through open windows blows in the sunshine;The walls are painted with fairies drinking wine.
Waiter: Are you drinking alone, sir, or waiting for friends?
Guo: I will have a few cups by myself. Bring the best you have.
Waiter: We have the best wine here, sir.
(Bringing the wine) Here you are, sir.
(Someone calls from offstage: “Where is the waiter?” The waiter goes out.)
Guo begins to drink and sings to the tune of “Plane Leaves”:
I am no poet drinking wine at leisure,
Nor soldier seeking in hard drinking for pleasure.
While drinking, with wide-open eyes I see
If in this drunkards’ land there’s place for me.
I hear much noise and bustle in the fair,
But of the sober drinker no one will take care.
(He gets up to look out of the window. Richly-dressed eunuchs and officials pass with attendants carrying gold, silk, sheep and wine. The waiter brings in more wine.)
Waiter: Here is some freshly heated wine for you, sir.
Guo: Tell me, waiter, where are those officials going?
Waiter: I’ll tell you as you drink. The emperor has ordered new mansions to be built for the prime minister and the three duchesses. The four mansions will be next door to each other,each like a palace. Every family wants to outdo every other. When one sees the neighbor’s house better, one would pull down and rebuild his or her house until it is as splendid. This way, one single hall may cost millions. Today the new buildings are finished, so all the government officials are coming with presents of sheep and
wine to offer congratulations. They all pass this way.
Guo (Shocked): Is this possible?
Waiter: Excuse me, sir. I’ll go to warm up some more wine. (Exit.)
Guo (Sighing): Ah! Imperial favor extends as far as to the relatives of the emperor’s favorite lady. What will be the end of all this?(Singing to the tune of “The Gourd of Vinegar”)
The kinsfolk usurp imperial right;
They vie in luxury at building site.
All courtiers bent their waist
To men in power in all haste
As country folk flock to a fair.
To tell the emperor no one would dare.
Look at the brilliant roofs and tiles overhead!
With people’s blood they are stained red.(Rising from his seat)
Anger has made wine go up to my head. Let me look around.
(Looking at the wall)
Here is a quatrain written in small characters. Let me read it:
“The hero left the northern town;
The wise on horse would not come down.
The ghost beneath the mountain brings
A silken dress adorned with rings.”
What a strange poem!
(Singing to the tune of “The Gourd of Vinegar”)
I read it line by line
And try hard to divine
What’s hidden in the verse,
And find things going worse.
Let me see who the author is. (Reading) Li Xiazhou.
(Thinking) The name sounds familiar. Ah! Yes, I’ve heard there is a fortune-teller named Li Xiazhou, who is good at foretelling the future. This must be the man.
Perhaps the future’s in veiled terms foretold,
But where’s the riddle-guesser old?
Or can this verse be a poetic line
Written by some drinker of wine?
(A noise is heard offstage.) Waiter!
Waiter (Entering): Yes, sir?
Guo: What’s the noise for?
Waiter: Well, sir, just take a look out of the window!
(Guo Ziyi looks out and sees An Lushan riding past, wearing a prince’s costume and preceded by attendants.)
Guo: Who is that man?
Waiter (Laughing as he points at An): Don’t you see that big belly,sir? That is An Lushan, a great favorite with the emperor. His Majesty has allowed him to recline on a coach under the golden cock canopy. Today he was made Prince of Eastern Peace, and he is on his way back from the court to his new palace outside the Gate of Eastern Flower.
Guo (Looking shocked and angry): So that is An Lushan! What has he done to be so quickly made a prince? He has the face of a rebel; he will certainly bring ruin to the empire.
(Singing to the tune of “Fragrance of Golden Chrysan-themum”)
Here I see the ambitious bastard in high glee,
With bulging eyes like a bee,
And with a jackel’s voice.
How could this cunning rogue rejoice?
What brings this wolf to royal hall?
The verse will come true, written on the wall,
When these imperial kinsmen lord it over all.
Waiter: Why do you look so angry, sir?
Guo sings to the tune of “Willow Leaves”:
Ah! In cold, cold breeze my hair stands on end;
In warm, warm breast my blood and anger blend.
My eyes turn again and again
To my ringing sword in vain.
Waiter: Don’t look so angry, sir. Let me get you another pot of wine.
Guo: A thousand cups, a hundred pots of wine
Could never wash away this heavy gloom of mine.
(Standing up) I’ve drunk enough. Here is your money.
Waiter: After three cups in peace a drinker goes,
But this official has a thousand woes. (Exit.)
Guo (Walking down the stairs and along the road): I’ll go back to my room.
(Singing to the tune of “Rising Waves”)
These shocking sights and that mysterious line
Show the unfathomable will, human or divine.
I pace along with eyebrows knit and full of gloom,
And at sunset I reach my lonely room.
(He enters his room and sits down. An attendant comes in.)
Attendant: Master, the bulletin has come.
Guo (Reading the bulletin):“The Ministry of War announces that by imperial decree Guo Ziyi is appointed military commissioner for Tiande.” So the decree has come. I had better pack my things and go at once to my post. Though it is not an important post,at least I shall now be able to serve the state.
(Singing to the high tune of “Epilogue”)
In shallow water still can dart a fish;
In brambles birds can preen their wings as they wish.
At last I have a chance to scale the sky,
To set the world in order far and nigh.
Though dark forces prevail in this land,
I’ll prop on my shoulder sun and moon.
I will support with my own hand
The throne which will tatter soon.
Epilogue of the Scene
My horse has trodden dust for years in vain.
The rich in power still remain;
The poor still sufer a hard fate.
Who will worry about the state?