Dong Zhuo could not reply for Lu Bu,
eager for the fight, rode straight at him.
Dong Zhuo fled and Ding Yuan’s army came on.
The battle went in Ding Yuan’s favor,
and the beaten troops retired ten miles and made another camp.
Here Dong Zhuo called his officers to a council.
“This Lu Bu is a marvel,” said Dong Zhuo.
“If he were only on my side, I would defy the whole world！”
At this a man advanced saying, “Be content, O my lord！
I am a fellow villager of his and know him well：
He is valorous, but not crafty； he will let go principles,
when he sees advantages. With this little,
blarneying tongue of mine, I can persuade him to put up his hands and come over to your side.”
Dong Zhuo was delighted and gazed admiringly at the speaker.
It was Li Su, a general in the Imperial Tiger Army.
“What arguments will you use with him？” asked Dong Zhuo.
“You have a fine horse, Red Hare, one of the best ever bred.
I must have this steed, and gold and pearls to win his heart.
Then will I go and persuade him.
He will certainly abandon Ding Yuan’s service for yours.”
“What think you？” said Dong Zhuo to his adviser Li Ru.
“One cannot grudge a horse to win an empire,” was the reply.
So they gave Li Su what he demanded——a thousand ounces of gold,
ten strings of beautiful pearls, a jeweled belt,
and Red Hare——and these accompanied Li Su on his visit to his fellow villager.
Li Su reached the camp and said to the guard,
“Please tell General Lu Bu that a very old friend has come to visit him.”
He was admitted forthwith.
“But this is the banquet chamber,
and state affairs should be left outside.
The matters can be fully discussed tomorrow.”
His fellow guests persuaded Ding Yuan to leave,
and after his departure Dong Zhuo said,
“Is what I said just and reasonable？”
[e] Yi Yin was was helper and prime minister of King Tang,
the founder of Shang Dynasty. After King Tang’s death, Yi Yin
served his sons and grandson. Soon after Tai Jia,
King Tang’s grandson, ascended the throne, he committed many faults,
and Yi Yin, acting as regent, exiled Tai Jia to Tong Palace——the burial place of King
Tang. After three years Yi Yin returned him the throne.
Tai Jia eventually became an enlightened emperor.
Shang Dynasty lasted for 650 years （BC 1700-1050）。
It was this act of Yi Yin rather than his services
in building up an empire that has made him immortal.
Whether he did right in temporarily dethroning
the king was open to question, until a final verdict was rendered
by Mencius who thought that his ends amply justified his means.
This historical event attests the extent of the
power exercised by a prime minister in those days. ……
[e] Huo Guang （BC ？-68） a general and regent of Han.
After Emperor Wu died, Huo Guang became regent to
three successive emperors, and the second one had been
the Prince of Changyi, who was on the throne for only
twenty-seven days. Huo Guang had the Prince of Changyi
declared unfit to rule and deposed him. Even though Huo Guang
contributed much to the empire’s stabilization,
after he died, he was distanced by the
emperor and most of his family
were executed for conspiracy charges. ……
“You are mistaken, Illustrious Sir,” said Lu Zhi.
“Of old Emperor Tai Jia of the Shang Dynasty was
unenlightened. Wherefore the sage Minister Yi Yin*
immured him in the Tong Palace till he reformed.
Later the Prince of Changyi ascended the throne,
and in twenty-seven days he committed more than
three thousand categorical faults. Wherefore Regent
Marshal Huo Guang* declared in the ancestral temple
that the Prince of Changyi was deposed. Our present
Emperor is young, but he is intelligent, benevolent,
and wise. He has not committed a single fault. You, Sir,
are an imperial protector of a frontier region and not a
metropolitan official and have had no experience in state
administration. Neither have you the
What Cao Cao said was this：
“the eunuch evil is of very old standing,
but the real cause of the present trouble is in
the improper influence allowed them by the emperors and
the misplaced favoritism they have enjoyed. But a gaoler would
be ample force to employ against this kind of evil, and getting rid of
the main culprits is quite enough. Why increase confusion
by summoning troops from the regions？
Any desire to slay all of them will speedily become known, and the plan will fail.”
“then, Cao Cao, you have some scheme of your own to further,” said He Jin with a sneer.
Cao Cao left the meeting, proclaiming, “The one who throws the world into chaos is He Jin！”
then He Jin sent swift, secret letters far and wide to several bases.
It must be recalled that Dong Zhuo had failed in his attempt to
destroy the Yellow Scarves rebellion. He would have been punished
if he had not bribed the Ten Eunuchs heavily for their protection.
Later, through connections in the capital, he obtained rapid promotions
from General to General of the Front Army, to Lord of Aoxiang, to Imperial
Protector in the western region of Xizhou and Commander of
an army of two hundred thousand troops. But Dong Zhuo
was treacherous and disloyal at heart. So when he received the
summons to the capital, he rejoiced GREatly and lost no
time in obeying it. He left a son-in-law, Commander Niu Fu,
to look after the affairs of Xizhou and set out for Luoyang.
Dong Zhuo took with him a huge army and four
generals——Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji, and Fan Chou.
Dong Zhuo’s adviser and son-in-law, Li Ru, said,
And they wept bitterly.
The Emperor turned angrily to Liu Tao, saying,
“You also have servants: Why can’t you bear with mine?”
And thereupon the Emperor called to the guards to eject Liu Tao and put him to death.
Liu Tao cried aloud, “My death matters nothing.
The pity is that Han Dynasty, after four centuries of reign, is falling fast!”
The guards hustled him away and were just about to carry out the
Emperor’s order when a minister stopped them, shouting,
“Strike not! Wait till I have spoken with His Majesty.”
It was the Minister of the Interior, Chen Dan. He went in to
the Emperor, to whom he said,
“For what fault is Counselor Liu Tao to be put to death?”
“He has vilified my servants and has insulted me,” said the Emperor.
“All the empire would eat the flesh of the eunuchs if they could,
and yet, Sire, you respect them as if they were your parents.
They have no merit, but they are created nobles. Moreover,
Feng Xu was in league with the Yellow Scarves.
Unless Your Majesty looks to it, the state will crumble!”
“There was no proof against Feng Xu,” replied the Emperor. “
About the Ten Eunuchs, are there none faithful among them?”
Chen Dan beat his forehead on the steps of the throne and did
not desist from remonstrance. Then the Emperor grew angry and
commanded his removal and imprisonment with Liu Tao.
That night Liu Tao and Chen Dan were murdered.
Then the eunuchs sent a forged edict to Sun Jian making
him Governor of Changsha, with orders to suppress
the rebellion of Ou Xing. In less than two months
Sun Jian reported the county all tranquil. For this he was created Lord of Wucheng.
Further, Liu Yu was made Imperial Protector of
Youzhou to move against Yuyang and suppress Zhang Ju and
Zhang Chun. Liu Hu of Daizhou recommended Liu Bei to Liu Yu. Liu Yu
welcomed Liu Bei and gave him rank of commander and sent him against
“Noble Sir, save me!” cried the inspector.
Now Liu Bei had always been kindly and gracious,
wherefore he bade his brother release the officer and go his way.
Then Guan Yu came up, saying, “Brother, after your magnificent services you only
got this petty post, and even here you have been insulted by this fellow.
A thorn bush is no place for a phoenix. Let us slay this fellow,
leave here, and go home till we can evolve a bigger scheme.”
Liu Bei contented himself with hanging the official seal about the inspector’s neck, saying,
“If I hear that you injure the people, I will assuredly kill you. I now spare your life, and I return to you the seal. We are going.”
The inspector went to the governor of Dingzhou and complained, and orders were issued
for the arrest of the brothers, but they got away to Daizhou and
sought refuge with Liu Hu, who sheltered them because of Liu Bei’s noble birth.
By this time the Ten Regular Attendants had everything in their hands,
and they put to death all who did not stand in with them. From every officer
who had helped to put down the rebels they demanded presents; and if
these were not forthcoming, he was removed from office. Imperial
Commanders Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun both fell victims to these intrigues and
were deprived from offices, while on the other hand the eunuchs
received the highest honors and rewards. Thirteen eunuchs were ennobled,
including Zhao Zhong* who was added to the rank of General of the Flying Cavalry;
Zhang Rang* possessed most of the prize farms around the capital.
The government grew worse and worse, and everyone was irritated.
Rebellions broke out in Changsha led by Ou Xing, and in Yuyang led by
Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. Memorials were sent up in number as snow flakes in
winter, but the Ten suppressed them all. One day the Emperor was at a feast in
one of the gardens with the Ten, when Court Counselor Liu Tao
suddenly appeared showing very great distress. The Emperor asked what the matter was.
“Sire, how can you be feasting with these when the empire is at the last gasp?” said Liu Tao.
“All is well,” said the Emperor. “Where is anything wrong?”
Said Liu Tao, “Robbers swarm on all sides and plunder the cities.
And all is the fault of the Ten Eunuchs who sell offices and injure the
people, oppress loyal officials and deceive their superiors. All virtuous
ones have left the services and returned to their places, and are building and
guarding their positions. More regional offices have been sought than imperial
appointments. Central authority is being undermined by local interests. Misfortune is before our very eyes!”
“Magistrate, what was your origin?”
Liu Bei replied, “I am descended from Prince Sheng of Zhongshan.
Since my first fight with the Yellow Scarves rebels at Zhuo County,
I have been in some thirty battles, wherein I gained some trifling merit. My reward was this office.”
“You lie about your descent, and your statement of services is false!” roared the inspector.
“Now the court has ordered the reduction of your sort of low class and corrupt officials.”
Liu Bei muttered to himself and withdrew. On his return to the magistracy, he took council with his secretaries.
“This pompous attitude only means the inspector wants a bribe,” said they.
“I have never wronged the people to the value of a single coin: Then where is a bribe to come from?”
Next day the inspector had the minor officials before him and forced them to bear witness that their
master had oppressed the people. Liu Bei time after time went to rebut this charge,
but the doorkeepers drove him away and he could not enter.
Now Zhang Fei had been all day drowning his sorrow in wine and had drunk far too much. Calling for
his horse he rode out past the lodging of the inspector, and at the gate saw a small
crowd of white-haired people weeping bitterly. He asked why.
They said, “The inspector has compelled the underlings to bear false witness against our
magistrate, with the desire to injure the virtuous Liu Bei. We came to
beg mercy for him but are not permitted to enter. Moreover, we have been beaten by the doorkeepers.”
This provoked the irascible and half intoxicated Zhang Fei to fury. His eyes opened
wide until they became circles; he ground his teeth; in a moment he was off his steed,
had forced his way past the scared doorkeepers into the building, and was in the rear apartments.
There he saw Imperial Inspector Du Biao sitting on high with the official underlings in bonds at his feet.
“Oppressor of the people, robber!” cried Zhang Fei. “Do you know me?”
But before the inspector could reply, Zhang Fei had had him by the hair and had
dragged him down. Another moment he was outside and firmly lashed to the
hitching post in front of the building. Then breaking off a switch from a willow tree,
Zhang Fei gave his victim a severe thrashing, only staying his hand when the tenth switch was too short to strike with.
Liu Bei was sitting alone, communing with his sorrow, when he heard a shouting before his door. He asked what the matter was.
They told him, “General Zhang Fei had bound somebody to a post and was thrashing him!”
Zhu Jun saw that the advice was good
and followed it. As predicted the rebels ran out,
led by Han Zhong. The besiegers fell upon them as they fled, and Han Zhong was slain.
The rebels scattered in all directions. But the other two rebel chieftains, Zhao Hong and
Sun Zhong, came with large reinforcements, and as they appeared very strong, the imperial
soldiers retired, and the new body of rebels reentered Wancheng.
Zhu Jun encamped three miles from the city and prepared to attack. Just then there arrived a
body of horse and foot from the east. At the lead was one general with a broad open face, a body
as an alert tiger’s, and a torso as a lofty bear’s. His name was Sun Jian. He was a native
of Fuchun in the old state of Wu, a descendant of the famous Sun Zi the Strategist*.
When he was seventeen, Sun Jian was with his father on the River Qiantang and saw a party of
pirates, who had been plundering a merchant, dividing their booty on the river bank.
“We can capture these!” said he to his father.
So, gripping his sword, he ran boldly up the bank and cried out to this side and that
as if he was calling his men to come on. This made the pirates believe the soldiers
were on them and they fled, leaving their booty behind them. He actually killed
one of the pirates. In this way be became known and was recommended for office.
Then, in collaboration with the local officials, he raised a band of one thousand and
helped to quell the rebellion of one Xu Chang, who called himself the Sun Emperor
and had ten thousand supporters. The rebel’s son Xu Hao was also slain with his father.
For this Sun Jian was commended by Imperial Protector Zang Min in a memorial to the
Throne, and he received further promotion to the post of
magistrate of Yandu, then of Xuyi, and then of Xiapi.
When the Yellow Scarves rebellion began, Sun Jian gathered together the youths of his
village, some of the merchant class, got a troop of one thousand five hundred of
veteran soldiers and took the field. Now he had reached the fighting area.
Zhu Jun welcomed Sun Jian gladly and ordered him to attack the south gate of Wancheng.
The north and the west gates were simultaneously attacked by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun, but the
east gate was left free to give the rebels a chance of exit. Sun Jian was the first to mount the
wall and cut down more than twenty rebels with his own sword. The rebels ran,
but the leader Zhao Hong rode directly at Sun Jian with his spear ready to thrust. Sun Jian
leaped down from the wall, snatched away the spear and with it knocked Zhao Hong from
The rebels fled north. Meeting Liu Bei, they declined to fight and scattered.
But Liu Bei drew his bow, fitted an arrow, and shot their leader Sun Zhong, who fell to
the ground. The main army of Zhu Jun came up, and after tremendous slaughter,
the rebels surrendered. Thus was peace brought to the ten counties about the Nanyang area.
Has come and gone before I knew.
TO MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS ADRIFT
IN TROUBLED TIMES THIS POEM OF THE MOON
Since the disorders in Henan and the famine in Guannei, my brothers and sisters have been scattered. Looking at the moon, I express my thoughts in this poem, which I send to my eldest brother at Fuliang, my seventh brother at Yuqian, My fifteen brother at Wujiang and my younger brothers and sisters at Fuli and Xiagui.
My heritage lost through disorder and famine,
My brothers and sisters flung eastward and westward,
My fields and gardens wrecked by the war,
My own flesh and blood become scum of the street,
I moan to my shadow like a lone-wandering wildgoose,
I am torn from my root like a water-plant in autumn:
I gaze at the moon, and my tears run down
For hearts, in five places, all sick with one wish.
THE INLAID HARP
I wonder why my inlaid harp has fifty strings,
Each with its flower-like fret an interval of youth.
…The sage Chuangzi is day-dreaming, bewitched by butterflies,
The spring-heart of Emperor Wang is crying in a cuckoo,
Mermen weep their pearly tears down a moon-green sea,
Blue fields are breathing their jade to the sun….
And a moment that ought to have lasted for ever
Has come and gone before I knew.
TO ONE UNNAMED
The stars of last night and the wind of last night
Are west of the Painted Chamber and east of Cinnamon Hall.
…Though I have for my body no wings like those of the bright- coloured phoenix,
Yet I feel the harmonious heart-beat of the Sacred Unicorn.
Across the spring-wine, while it warms me, I prompt you how to bet
Where, group by group, we are throwing dice in the light of a crimson lamp;
Till the rolling of a drum, alas, calls me to my duties
And I mount my horse and ride away, like a water-plant cut adrift.
THE PALACE OF THE SUI EMPEROR
His Palace of Purple Spring has been taken by mist and cloud,
As he would have taken all Yangzhou to be his private domain
But for the seal of imperial jade being seized by the first Tang Emperor,
He would have bounded with his silken sails the limits of the world.
Fire-flies are gone now, have left the weathered grasses,
But still among the weeping-willows crows perch at twilight.
…If he meets, there underground, the Later Chen Emperor,
Do you think that they will mention a Song of Courtyard Flowers?
TO ONE UNNAMED I
You said you would come, but you did not, and you left me with no other trace
Than the moonlight on your tower at the fifth-watch bell.
I cry for you forever gone, I cannot waken yet,
I try to read your hurried note, I find the ink too pale.
…Blue burns your candle in its kingfisher-feather lantern
And a sweet breath steals from your hibiscus-broidered curtain.
But far beyond my reach is the Enchanted Mountain,
And you are on the other side, ten thousand peaks away.
I sit here alone, mourning for us both.
FROM THE CITY-TOWER OF LIUZHOU
TO MY FOUR FELLOW-OFFICIALS AT ZHANG,
DING, FENG, AND LIAN DISTRICTS
At this lofty tower where the town ends, wilderness begins;
And our longing has as far to go as the ocean or the sky….
Hibiscus-flowers by the moat heave in a sudden wind,
And vines along the wall are whipped with slanting rain.
Nothing to see for three hundred miles but a blur of woods and mountain —
And the river’s nine loops, twisting in our bowels….
This is where they have sent us, this land of tattooed people —
And not even letters, to keep us in touch with home.
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME AT WEST FORT MOUNTAIN
Since Wang Jun brought his towering ships down from Yizhou,
The royal ghost has pined in the city of Nanjing.
Ten thousand feet of iron chain were sunk here to the bottom —
And then came the flag of surrender on the Wall of Stone….
Cycles of change have moved into the past,
While still this mountain dignity has commanded the cold river;
And now comes the day of the Chinese world united,
And the old forts fill with ruin and with autumn reeds.
AN ELEGY I
O youngest, best-loved daughter of Xie,
Who unluckily married this penniless scholar,
You patched my clothes from your own wicker basket,
And I coaxed off your hairpins of gold, to buy wine with;
For dinner we had to pick wild herbs —
And to use dry locust-leaves for our kindling.
…Today they are paying me a hundred thousand —
And all that I can bring to you is a temple sacrifice.
AN ElEGY II
We joked, long ago, about one of us dying,
But suddenly, before my eyes, you are gone.
Almost all your clothes have been given away;
Your needlework is sealed, I dare not look at it….
I continue your bounty to our men and our maids —
Sometimes, in a dream, I bring you gifts.
…This is a sorrow that all mankind must know —
But not as those know it who have been poor together.
AN ELEGY III
I sit here alone, mourning for us both.
How many years do I lack now of my threescore and ten?
There have been better men than I to whom heaven denied a son,
There was a poet better than I whose dead wife could not hear him.
What have I to hope for in the darkness of our tomb?
You and I had little faith in a meeting after death-
Yet my open eyes can see all night
That lifelong trouble of your brow.
Spring only brings me grief and fatigue
TO MY FRIENDS LI DAN AND YUANXI
We met last among flowers, among flowers we parted,
And here, a year later, there are flowers again;
But, with ways of the world too strange to foretell,
Spring only brings me grief and fatigue.
I am sick, and I think of my home in the country-
Ashamed to take pay while so many are idle.
…In my western tower, because of your promise,
I have watched the full moons come and go.
INSCRIBED IN THE TEMPLE OF THE WANDERING GENIE
I face, high over this enchanted lodge, the Court of the Five Cities of Heaven,
And I see a countryside blue and still, after the long rain.
The distant peaks and trees of Qin merge into twilight,
And Had Palace washing-stones make their autumnal echoes.
Thin pine-shadows brush the outdoor pulpit,
And grasses blow their fragrance into my little cave.
…Who need be craving a world beyond this one?
Here, among men, are the Purple Hills
Finch-notes and swallow-notes tell the new year….
But so far are the Town of the Horse and the Dragon Mound
From this our house, from these walls and Han Gardens,
That the moon takes my heart to the Tartar sky.
I have woven in the frame endless words of my grieving….
Yet this petal-bough is smiling now on my lonely sleep.
Oh, ask General Dou when his flags will come home
And his triumph be carved on the rock of Yanran mountain!
A NIGHT-MOORING AT WUCHANG
Far off in the clouds stand the walls of Hanyang,
Another day’s journey for my lone sail….
Though a river-merchant ought to sleep in this calm weather,
I listen to the tide at night and voices of the boatmen.
…My thin hair grows wintry, like the triple Xiang streams,
Three thousand miles my heart goes, homesick with the moon;
But the war has left me nothing of my heritage —
And oh, the pang of hearing these drums along the river!