Nostalgia of Chi-bi 1 Battle

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

    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.

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

5 His troops attacked the enemy ships with fire. The entire fleet of enemy warships was destroyed.

6 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.

7 The moon was the Chinese goddess of imagination.