Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Battle Of Red Cliff

Battle Of Red Cliff is a poem written by Chinese poet Su Tung Po.

I received it from my colleague, Malaysian poet John Tiong.

The Battle Of Red Cliff is a historical event during China's Three Kingdoms period.

It has been immortalised by the film Red Cliff (Parts 1 and 2) directed by John Woo and starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai, the Tom Hanks of Hong Kong.

The Yangtze flows east
Washing away
A thousand ages of great men
West of the ramparts
People say
Are the fabled Red Cliffs
Of young Chou of the Three Kingdoms
Rebellious rocks pierce the sky
Frightening waves rip the bank
The backwash churns vast snowy swells
River and mountains like a painting
How many heroes passed them once

Think back to those years, Chou Yu
Just married to the younger Chiao
Brave, brilliant
With plumed fan, silk kerchief
Laughed and talked
While masts and oars
Vanished to flying ash and smoke
I roam through ancient realms
Absurdly moved
Turn gray too soon
A man's life passes like a dream
Pour out a cup then to the river
And the moon

The endless river eastward flows
With its huge waves are gone all those
Gallant heroes of bygone years
West of the ancient fortress years
Red Cliff where General Zhou Yu
Won his early fame
When the Three Kingdoms were in flame
Jagged rocks tower in the air
And swashing waves beat on the air
Rolling up a thousand heaps of snow
To match the hills and the river so fair
How many heroes brave of yore
Made a great show

The great river surges east
Its waves have scoured away
Since time began
All traces of heroic men
The western side of the old fort
Was once so people say
Known as the Red Cliff
Of Zhou of the Three Kingdoms
With piled-up rocks to stab the sky
And waves to shake them thunderously
Churning the frothy mass to mounds of snow
It's like a masterpiece in paint
Those ages hide how many a hero
Think back to those old days
That first year when Zhou Yu
Had just married the young Qiao
Then what a hero he became
With waving fan and silken cap
He talked and laughed at ease
While masts and oars
Were blotted out in smoke and flame
My wits that stray to realms of old
Deserve the scorn of all who feel
Years pass and hair grows white so soon
Though a man's life is like a dream
One toast continues still - the river and the moon

By Su Tung Po