The Gazebo of Joy in Yellow City (1083 A.D.)

Su, Chech (1039 A.D.-1112 A.D.)

    After the Yangtze River leaves Gorge W, it starts to flow on flat ground and becomes large and wild. It then joins with Rivers Y and S from the south as well as Rivers H and M from the north. As a result, the power of the Yangtze River expands greatly. When it reaches the Red Wall where rivers from all directions converge, the Yangtze River looks more like an ocean. After Mr. Chang was demoted to City C, he built a gazebo to the southeast of his house to appreciate the greatness of the Yangtze River. My elder brother named it the Gazebo of Joy.    

    When one looks out from the gazebo, he can see ten miles from north to south and three miles from east to west. The waves swell dramatically. The wind and clouds sometimes accumulate, and at other times disperse. During the daytime, boats appear and then disappear in front of the gazebo. During the evening, the dragons under the water cry sadly. The scenery changes quickly enough to moves one’s heart and startle one’s eyes. One does not dare watch it for long. Now we are able to sit beside the table in the gazebo and appreciate the greatness of the Yangtze River for as long as we desire. Facing west, we see mountains near City W. The remote hills rise and fall like an earthen wave. The grass and trees grow in lines. When fog and smoke disappear and the sun comes out, we can discern the distant houses of fishermen and those of lumberjacks. This is the reason why the gazebo was named the Gazebo of Joy. About 800 years ago, along the shore of the long delta there was a big city. It was where Dukes T and S won their great wars and where Generals C and L were galloping with high spirit. The ruins with their historic legacy are inspiring enough to make people applaud.

    Even further back, almost 1400 years ago, while the King of Country Chuu walked with Officials S and J in the Palace Orchid, a gust of wind blew through. The king loosened his neck button and said, “This wind is very pleasant. Do common people share this wind with me?” Official S replied, “This is the great wind of Your Majesty. How can common people share it with you?” There was a cynical tone in Official S’ words. There could not be any difference between the wind that the king encountered and the wind that the common people encountered. However, the people had to accept the caprice of fate which vacillates between fortune and misfortune. The King of Chuu was happy and the common people were not because their feelings were dependent upon their luck in human affairs. The wind could not change their fate.

    If a scholar, who lives in this world, is not content with what he has, he will feel miserable wherever he goes. If he is optimistic and prevents material desires from damaging his character, he will remain joyful wherever he goes. Now Mr. Chang does not feel upset because of his demotion. He spends his leisure time indulging himself in the landscape of the mountains and rivers. This love of nature reveals his outstanding character. Not even living in a shabby grass hut will upset him. Moreover, he can enjoy washing in the clean river, inviting the clouds of the western mountain to be his company, watching the never-ending beautiful scenery and listening to ever-present sounds of nature. If a poet or thoughtful scholar is pessimistic, the continuous mountains, deep valleys, extensive forest, and ancient trees are sufficiently moving to cause him great sorrow when he is touched by fresh wind and illuminated by the bright moon. Then how can the Gazebo of Joy fulfill its name?