Battle of Chibi Excerpt

Alas, Zhou Yu, to die so young! 

The measure of our days is

Doled out by Heaven, but how I grieve now!

My heart aches as I pour this wine for you;

May your noble soul savor it again and again.

I mourn for the young boy

Who unfailingly respected his elders;

Who was generous to the needy

And himself lived humbly.

I mourn for the young man

Who wrestled ten thousand li with the peng,

Who helped his Lord establish the kingdom of Wu.

I mourn for your steadiness of purpose

At the distant garrison of Baqiu;

A cause for concern to some

And a warning to rebels.

I mourn for your handsome bearing

And brilliant marriage to the younger Qiao;

You became son-in-law to a Han minister

And were worthy to assert yourself at court.

I mourn for your measured spirit that discerned

The occasion to admonish or oppose;

Your wings did not droop at the onset,

And were fully extended in the end.

I mourn for the Lord of Poyang,

Who resisted the guile of Jiang Gan;

He was smooth and wily but did not sway

You from your great-hearted aspiration.

I mourn for your splendid talent to combine

Grand strategy and detailed tactics;

You attacked with fire

And followed through with tenacity.

I think of those years when you strode

With majesty and purpose.

I weep for your untimely death;

Let my tears water the earth where I lie prostrate.

Such loyalty of heart, such boldness of spirit!

Your life is ended at thirty-six,

Your honor lives for a hundred generations!

Our separation causes me pain,

A thousand pent-up memories

Cannot find expression.

Left alone, my courage mingles

With unending sorrow.

Great Heaven itself is dark,

The three armies are in shock;

Your Lord wails, your friends weep.

I am without talent, yet you coaxed me

To frame strategies with you:

Together we helped Wu and repulsed Cao,

Assisted Han and upheld Liu.

You gave your all to help your companions.

You knew when to hold back and when to retreat,

Whether to reflect or to worry.

Alas, Zhou Yu, the living and the dead

Are eternally separated!

I plan to preserve your faithfulness

From dark extinction.

Your soul, as if it still lives,

Will be reflected in my heart.

Who among All under Heaven

Would know my mind so well?

I lie prostrate with pain, by myself,

And beg you to accept this offering.


As a later poet sighed:

Nanyang’s Wo Long slept

And did not awaken even when

Sunlight fell on the city wall.

Blue Heaven having created Zhou Yu,

Why must Earth produce Zhuge Liang?