Clouds float like works of art,
Stars shoot with grief at heart,
Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid.
When Autumn’s Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade,
All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.
Their tender love flows like a stream,
Their happy date seems but a dream,
How can they bear a separate homeward way?
If love between both sides can last for aye,
Why need they stay together night and day?
This tale of the Milky Way begins in the starriest skies,
when the Cowherd and Weaver Girl stars secretly fell in love.
In China’s mythological heavens, it was forbidden for the stars to love
so when word of their union reached the ears of the Heavenly Empress,
the Cowherd star was banished to Earth to live as a mortal.
As the Weaver Girl star was the Empress’ granddaughter,
she received the eternal punishment of weaving clouds in the sky.
The Cowherd star was reborn as a poor farmer who lived alone with his old Ox,
unaware that the creature was once the Golden Ox Star,
also exiled to the mortal world.
One day, a group of fairies requested to descend to the mortal world,
and asked permission of the Empress to take the Weaver Girl star with them.
The old Ox told the farmer to go to Bi Lian Lake,
find the fairies who were bathing there and steal a red dress.
This, he assured him, would convince the fairy to become his wife.
The poor farmer hid behind a large rock
and waited for the fairies to enter the water.
Soon after, he jumped out and grabbed the red dress,
frightening the fairies, who gathered their clothes and flew back to the skies.
Only one remained in the water, her body covered by her angelic long hair.
It was none other than the Weaver Girl star,
who recognized her beloved at first glance.
Happily accepting his proposal, they began to live together.
However, it did not take long before the Heavenly Empress
found out about the reunification of the two lovers,
and ordered her guards to bring the star back for punishment.
Sadly, on that same day, the old Ox passed away.
Just before his death, the Ox spoke again to the farmer,
asking him not to discard his oxen hide,
but to keep it and use it when in danger.
When the heavenly soldiers descended,
they seized the Weaver Girl star to take her back to the Empress.
Struggling to escape from the guards, she looked down at her beloved
and saw that he was giving chase behind them.
The old Ox’s skin had enabled the farmer to fly!
At that moment, the Heavenly Empress waved her hairpin
and formed a galaxy as a barrier to separate them,
creating the Milky Way.
Many years passed by,
but the lovers never lost hope of meeting again.
One day, the Empress softened her heart,
and gave permission for the lovers to see each other,
but under one condition: they would only meet once each year
on the seventh day of the seventh month.
On that day, countless magpies would form a bridge into the skies,
so the Cowherd star and his
beloved Weaver Girl star
could be reunited
for a night.