Huizhou is a city located in central Guangdong province in the south. Part of the Pearl River Delta, Huizhou borders the provincial capital of Guangzhou to the west,Shenzhen and Dongguan to the southwest, South China Sea to the south. Its southern part (Huiyang district) is a part of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen built-up area, the biggest built-up area in the world with more than over 44 million inhabitants encompassing the whole Shenzhen known for electronic manufacturing.
The city also has a West Lake where Su and his concubine Morning Cloud strolled.
A pagoda named “Six Metaphors” after the last lines Morning Cloud recited from the Diamond Sutra at her death.
“All laws of actions are
like dream, mirage, bubble and shadow
as dew and lightning.
It should be observed as such.”
You can see her grave right behind the Pagoda and there are statues of Morning Cloud and Su on site.
Elephant Head Mountain mentioned in the second Novella is 18 kilometres away from the Huizhou city area.
Other than the exotic fruits and lychee poetry, Su also wrote about locals eating rats in the Wild South. It is interesting to read Peter Hessler’s first chapter “Wild Flavor” in “Strange Stone: Dispatches from East and West” inviting readers along on a taste test between two rat restaurants in South China.
Mourn for Infant Son
“I am forty nine,
I lost my infant son while traveling.
My infant son is no doubt my child, with brows like mine…………
At my old age, joy is rare,
I rely on him for laughs and joy;
suddenly he was taken away………….
We could not but wrap him with cloth and firewood according to customs,
in no time he turned to ashes.
Coming home with empty arms,
my elderly tears poured like water slides.
My tears could be wiped and
memories would fade as days go by.
I could not bear to hear
the weeping mother
and her wanting to die with him.
His clothes hanging on the rack
as milk overflowed
from her breast to the bed.”
Above is a photo of statues of Su and his first wife in their teenage years at his homeland Meishan.
A Love Poem to First Wife Ten Years after her Death
“Hopelessly lost for ten years,
dead or alive.
Don’t think about it
but how can it be forgotten?
Your lone grave,
thousand miles away;
where can we talk out our sorrows?
Even if we meet,
we would not recognize each other;
my face covered with dust,
sideburns white as frost.
Last night I had a deep dream,
as if back in homeland,
outside of your little window.
We look at each other, not a word,
a thousand lines of tears on our cheeks.
See year after year
the gut wrenching site:
bright moon night,
stubby pine slope.”
Above is a clip from a TV drama on Su Shih with a theme song of the love poem.
The most touching scene is the boat trip with two coffins of father and first wife going home. (start at 2:08- 3:26).
If you want to watch the home funeral (0:40) attended by ministers with Emperor’s edict mandate around 2:00-2:08. The scene of Su’s six year old son crying jerks tears, You can also see shots of second wife, Su Shih and his brother in white. The clip starts with death scene of Su’s first wife Fo with second wife-to-be and Fo’s son followed by Su’s sick father at the door.