The header image conveys the tone of this poem.
“My heart is like wood burnt to ashes,
my body as an unleashed boat.
If you ask what are my life accomplishments………”
Can you guess his reply?
The actual line is “Huangzhou, Huizhou, Tanzhou.”
(The three places of his exile: GuangGang, Huizhou and Hainan)
The cover image also conveys the tone of the poem. Dislocation as an unleashed boat.Loss, makes us feel like wood burnt to ashes. All due to conflicts. The migrants and refugees around the world come to mind right away. May we all do everything we can to stop conflicts.
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.