My Second Visit to the Red Cliff

Part 1 (right side scroll)

Around the fifteenth of the tenth lunar month of the same year [1082], I walked from Xuetang to Lingao accompanied by two friends. We passed the yellow muddy slope.

The dew and frost had begun to fall, and the leaves on all the trees had all shed. Our shadows were cast on the ground, and the moon was bright in the sky. Being filled with joy, we sang in response to one another as we walked along.

I heaved a sigh, saying, “I have friends but no wine. Even if I had wine, I would still lack food. As the moon is bright and the wind is refreshing, how should we spend the enjoyable night?”

A friend answered, “I have just netted a fish at dusk. It looks like the perch in Song River with a big mouth and fine scales. But where can I get wine?”

I returned home to discuss with my wife, and she said, “I have kept some wine for a long time, in case of your unexpected need.”

Then with wine and fish, we returned to the foot of the Red Cliff.

Part 2 (left side scroll)

The flowing river gurgled between cliffs that rose to a height of a thousand feet. The moon looked small over the lofty mountains. The rocks emerged as the water subsided.

It has been only a few months since my last visit, but now the mountains and the river were hardly recognizable.

Holding up my long robe, I went ashore, trod on the rugged rocks, parted the entwining and entangling thickets, squatted on rocks shaped like tigers and leopards, climbed aged trees with gnarled branches that looked like dragons. I got up to the lofty nest of the wild birds, then looked downwards, and saw in the water the palace where Fung Yi, the water god, dwelled.

My two friends could hardly follow me. I gave a long howl. All of a sudden the grass and trees trembled; the sound reverberated in the valleys. A strong wind rose and waves surged up.

My Second Visit to the Red Cliff (selected portions…)

From Imitation of Lanting Xu

* Su Shi laments on his second visit to Red Cliff; an introspective story of his visit with friends and his life.

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