Red Cliff Meditation

赤壁懷古 念奴嬌 – [to the tune of “Do Not Forget Exquisite Little Me”

Su Shi (1082)



The Great River eastward goes, 大江東去

its waves have rinsed clean [the land of] 浪淘儘

a thousand years of celebrities. 千古風流人物

Westward of a bygone fortress,故壘西邊

folk suppose, 人道是

lies the Three Kingdoms and Duke Zhou’s “Red Cliff.”  三國周郎赤壁


[There,] confusions of rock collapse in clouds,  亂石崩雲

jarring breakers split the riverbanks   驚濤裂案

scrolling up a thousand piles of snow   捲起千堆雪

The river, the mountains, are as in a painting.   江山如畫

So many heroes, [just] one [instant of] time.  一是多少豪傑


[My mind] drifts back to that very year   遙想公瑾 當年

the Duke wed princess Qiao, 小喬初嫁了

[his] courage erupting in bravado, 雄姿英發

his feathered fan and ducal headdress 羽扇綸巾

amidst banter and laughter, [and then,] 談笑間

[great walls] of high-masted galleys, in flying ash and smoke, destroyed. 檣臚灰飛煙滅


[Just] a spirit-visit to an ancient land, 古國神遊

so maudlin one ought to laugh at me, 多情應笑我

[my] hair already greying. 早生華髮

Amidst men, it is as in a dream.  人間如夢

One winecup offered up to the River’s moon.一尊還酹江月


(Translation by John J. Tkacik)




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