Ode to the Red Wall II

Su, Dong-Po (1036 A.D.-1101 A.D.)

    On October 15, 1082 A.D., I walked from a snow-covered temple to my house inside Waterside Gazebo. Two guests followed me. We passed by a mountainous slope clogged with yellow mud. After the frost and dew descended, we saw that the leaves had all fallen from the trees. We traced our shadows on the ground up toward the moon and our surroundings. The quiet scene made us happy. Walking and singing, we answered each other. After a while, I sighed, "It is a pity to have guests without wine and to have wine without delicious food. The moon is bright, and the wind is fresh. How shall we enjoy such a great night?" One guest said, "At dusk, I caught a fish with a huge mouth and tiny scales. It looked like a sea-perch. But where can we find wine?" After arriving at home, I asked my wife if we had any wine. She said, "I have been saving a bottle of wine for a long time. It is ready for you whenever you need it." Consequently, we brought fish and wine and went to the Red wall again.

    There was a musical sound accompanying the river flow. The cliff on one side of the river was a thousand feet tall. The mountain was high, and the moon was small. When the water ebbed, the rocks emerged. During the intervening three months, the scene of the mountain and river had become almost unrecognizable. Then I rolled up my robes, stepped on the rocks of the cliff, and pushed weeds aside to create a path. We squatted on a rock shaped like a tiger or leopard. Then we climbed a tree shaped like a dragon. After climbing to the hawk’s nest which was dangerously high, I looked over the water palace of the river god. My guest could not follow me.

    All of a sudden, a long shriek pierced through the sky. Trees and grass trembled. The mountains and valleys echoed. The wind started to roar, and the waves began to rise. I felt sad in a quiet way and became frightened in earnest. It was so cold that I could not stay there for long. We returned to my boat. After we rowed to the middle of the river, we let the boat go, and it rested wherever it happened to stop.

    At midnight, it was extremely quiet. Suddenly a lonely crane came from the east. Its wings whirred like the wheels of a carriage. Its head was white and its tail was black. It made a long caw as if it were declaring its independence. After flitting over my boat, it flew toward the east. Before long, my guests left and I went to bed.

    In my dream, a monk in a feather tunic flew like an angel and stopped by Waterside Gazebo. He greeted me, "Did you have a good time visiting the Red Wall?" I asked his name. He bowed his head and did not answer. Amazed, I finally realized that he was the one that had cried and flitted over my boat the night before. The monk turned his head back toward me and smiled. Awakened by the surprise, I opened the door to look for the monk, but I could not find a trace of him.