This poem is the only piece by Yang Yuhuan that is included in “Quantangshi,” a collection of many poems from the Tang period. Yang Yuhuan is Yang Guifei’s real name. The Guifei referred to the highest rank for imperial consorts, right below the empress during her time. How the author’s imagination describes the aesthetic flipping of a dancer does not pale beside the dancer’s performance.
What a beautiful dance move echoing through the air with a graceful scent from the dancing silk sleeves! Every flexible dance move by Zhang Yunrong in front of Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei fills the space with pleasant vibes. She is reminded of a lotus flower wavering in the fogs, a thin-layered cloud flowing with the wind around the mountaintop or a willow tree lightly touching the canvas of the pond right after sprouting early spring. Given that Yang was famous for her dancing and singing skills, to her, the young dancer might have come across as a pure and lively girl, rather than a seasoned, matured choreographer. To depict the young dancer’s movements poetically, Yang mentioned the wavering lotus flower, the thin-layered cloud, and the young willow tree.
Yang and Emperor Xuanzong indulged themselves in the pleasures and joys of life in Huaqing Palace, Lishan Mountain on the outskirts of the capital of Changan. Despite the emperor's strong dedication to the dynasty's prosperity for 30 years or so, he ended up being blinded by indulgence in extravagant and pleasure-seeking lifestyles in his later years. He spent time bathing in hot springs, studying how to live young and long, and dancing and singing.
What the emperor's life was like is also described by Bai Juyi’s “A Song of Unending Sorrow,” which shares the couple's love story. “Huaqing Palace standing tall in the clouds around Lishan Mountain/Melodies sung by hermits resonating through the winds/Slow dancing and nice music playing out in orchestral music/Emperor wishing to watch more even after a long day.”