China the Beautiful - Copyright Ming L. Pei 1995-97
Su Shi (1037-1101)

BATTLE OF THE RED CLIFF
Tune: Nian Nu Qiao " Charm Of A Maiden Singer"

[A rough translation]

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.
Jugged 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!


Another translation

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! 

Tr. Lin Shan


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