once upon a time there was a poet who wanted to write a perfect poem - the most perfect poem that had ever been written.
he felt that to write his perfect poem he needed to have a perfect, perfectly white piece of paper.
as he was an emperor as well as a poet, he had limitless wealth at his disposal to search the earth for the perfect piece of paper.
his spies told him that perfect papers were to be found in a little shop in a town in a little kingdom hidden in the mountains.
the poet-emperor knew that if he rode boldly into the little town in his character of emperor, he would be charged an exorbitant price, as the inhabitants of the little kingdom were notorious for their hard bargaining.
disguising himself as a humble peasant he entered the town and approached the shop.
but as he did, a group of the local king’s soldiers entered the shop, arrested the proprietor for printing seditious pamphlets, and burned the shop to the ground.
disappointed in his ambition as a poet, the emperor decided to become a paramour.
and to find the maiden with the most perfect face, and the most perfect pale cheeks in the world.
he sent out a thousand spies and agents to search his empire and the surrounding kingdoms and find this maiden.
a maid whom he was assured fit the description was discovered in a small village on the western border of the empire.
the emperor found her seated n a rock beside a gently flowing river, gazing at a pale moon.
approaching the maiden, he boldly declared himself, both as an ardent, faithful lover, and as an emperor possessed of all the wealth in the world.
the maiden turned a sorrowful gaze on the paramour-emperor. i am sorry, sir, she said, but my heart belongs to another.
disappointed again, the emperor decided to become a painter, and to paint the most perfect snowy landscape.
in this attempt he disdained the use of agents or spies, but left the palace one night alone, with a knapsack on his back containing only a canvas and easel and some paint and brushes, a jug of wine and a loaf of hard bread.
he traveled to the north of the kingdom, where a perfectly white, snowy landscape was most likely to be found.
he was crossing a perfectly flat plain, in the shadow of a great mountain, when the snow began to fall.
this is my opportunity, the painter-emperor thought, and he set up his easel and began to paint the ghostly scene.
the work, once begun, went as smoothy as the snow itself was falling.
when the snow began to fall too heavily, obscuring the landscape he was trying to copy, the emperor commanded it to stop.
but it did not stop, and went on for days, burying the unfortunate emperor beneath it.
he was succeeded as emperor by his brother, who spent the days of his long reign in a tavern in the shadow of the imperial palace, drinking wine with beggars, eunuchs, and old soldiers, and playing darts and dice.