The mighty river flows eastward. The waves have washed away all the ages of
romantic characters. People say that the area west of the old fortress was once
Mr. Zhou's Chi-bi 2. Rocky mountains thrust chaotically into the
clouds. Raging waves break the banks and churn up numerous layers of whitecaps.
The river and the mountains are like a picture. This scene reminds me of many
heroes during the Three Kingdom Period. I think of General Geng-jin in those
distant years. He and the Younger Qiao had just married 3, and his
majestic appearance shone with heroic spirit. As he talked and laughed, wearing
a silk hat and carrying a feather fan 4, his strong enemy turned to
smoke and ashes 5. I am carried away by this historical story. The
tender-hearted may ridicule me by saying my hair has grown prematurely gray
6. But life is like a dream. Let me offer a cup of wine to the ground so I
may honor the moon 7 in the river.
Chi-bi, in present day Jia-yu County, was where Yu Zhou defeated Cao Cao.
The place Su visited was also called Chi-bi, but it was located outside of
Huang-zhou City. Many people mistakenly considered this place the original
location of Chi-bi Battle. Although Su knew he was not at the real location, he
seized this opportunity to give free rein to his imagination.
Chi-bi (Red cliff) refers to the scene of Cao Cao's defeat by Yu Zhou.
Gong-jin was Zhou's other first name. He was a general of the Kingdom of Wu.
The chapter titled "The Biography of Yu Zhou" in The History of the
Kingdom of Wu, a volume of the series, The History of the Three Kingdom,
says, "Old Qiao had two daughters. Both of them were extremely beautiful. King
Che Sun married the older of the two and General Yu Zhou married the younger."
Zhou was married in 198 A.D. at the age of twenty-four. Chi-bi Battle occurred
in 208 A.D. In this poem, Su put marriage after the battle in order to
romanticize the hero.
4 Because he disdained his enemy General Zhou neither wore armor
nor carried his sword at the battle scene.
His troops attacked the enemy ships with fire. The entire fleet of enemy
warships was destroyed.
Su tries to romanticize Yu Zhou so that people have a role model as their
guide to better their quality of life. Life without imagination is quite boring.
However, the tender-hearted have limited vision. They think that Suís work was
neither realistic nor important.
The moon was the Chinese goddess of imagination.