Conflicts of Political and Career Interests
- Divine Emperor and Wang An Shi’s political reforms
- Bastard Chang’s New Party revenge on Su
- Noble Empress Dowager’s overturning his son’s reforms
(See Characters and Names and also read first novella)
Conflicts among indigenous people and Chinese (read second novella)
Conflicts of the suppressed poor and the ruling rich (see Lament for Lychees and also read first novella)
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Less than a hundred feet tall and half a mile stretch of fire red rock, in the shape of castle mural with an embedded nose in the middle, this is Su Shih’s Red Cliff; some called it Red Nose Hill. A small hill standing by the side of Yang Tze or Great River with tree roots anchored in the riverbed, it looks up the sky. Waves roar in Great River while pavilions and pagodas spread over the top of the hill. Click on Red Cliff Poem.
Many claim the historic site for Battle of Red Cliffs in year 208 is west of Huang Gang city and currently where Red Cliff City is situated, and not Su’s Red Cliff. Below are sights at Red Cliff City depicting the Red Cliff batte.
In Su’s prose poetry he refers to only three of the key characters in the battle of Red Cliffs: Tsao, the defeated northern warlord; Zhou, the general who crafted the strategy leading to victory for two southern warlords in the Three Kingdom Era; the beautiful wife of General Zhou.
Tsao was known as a merciless tyrant, military genius and brilliant ruler. Su mentions in his poem Tsao’ss initial success overtaking one warlord’s territory and then he headed further south along the river eastward for more victory. With two hundred thousand soldiers in battleships stretching a thousand miles, his naval flags and banners covered the sky. Complacent, he composed a poem holding a lance crossway in his hand and poured wine to the river gods. He was defeated by coalition of two southern lords with Zhou’s brilliant strategy of setting Tsao’s linked battleships on fire. The southern warlords had far less ships and soldiers compared to Tsao, they won with wits rather than force.
Along with the other famous sage strategist holding a feather fan, handsome Zhou’s head wrapped in green silk talked and laughed their way through the battle as enemy’s battleships vanished in smoke and ashes.
You can watch the Red Cliff movie by John Wu with English subtitles in full on youtube. Below is a trailer for you to get a feel.
Under Mount Lofu all four seasons are like spring,
waxberries and loquats fresh everyday.
Feasting on lychees, three hundred a day,
I would not mind being a Peak South local.
Lament for Lychees
Every ten li a station swirling with dust,
every five li a post urging couriers to hurry.
Men die like flies, their corpses line the road,
so lychees and longans may be delivered to court.
Carriages race over hills,
boats sweep through the seas.
With newly plucked fruit on fresh boughs,
leaves still dewy,
all to win a smile from the beauty in the palace.
Though it cost bloodshed and strife, its effect remains for ever.
Lychees came from different districts at different eras
people still hate the ministers who recommended offering
but nobody would commerorate the ones with integrity.
I only wish heavenly father would have mercy on the little people,
don’t ever create such sensual beauties to become people’s doom,
if only wind and rain are well tempered
for a prosperous harvest in all the valleys,
the best omen is people exempt from hunger and cold.
Didn’t you see the officials pack and cage tea shootlings
from best cultivation areas for offerings?
Wrangling for new ideas for offering to gain favors,
today’s limited items become offering tea.
Do our emperors really lack these things?
How disgusting and mean to indulge only
the emperor’s mouth and body?
It’s a pity ministers remaining at the capital
came from model families for loyalty and filial piety,
they too offer peony to gain favors.