Three Kingdoms Poetry by Barbarosso
Virtue in obscurity
Humble beginnings for our faithful three,
The oath taken under the peach garden tree,
Their names Liu, Zhang and Guan,
All sought to restore the glorious Han (1).
1: Han – name of the ruling Dynasty before the Three Kingdoms era.
Zhang Fei the brother to draw first blood,
Leaving poor Mao to rest in the mud,
The triplets with their maiden battle won,
Return to celebrate events to come,
Teaming with Cao, the yellow scarves fell,
To the way of peace an ominous knell,
They found Lu Zhi (2) in an iron cage,
Fallen victim to magician’s rage,
2: Lu Zhi – Liu’s old teacher and good friend.
Their efforts overlooked by the corps commander,
Dong Zhou his name, full of evil and slander,
If only he had died there and then,
To save many lives of valorous men,
Zhou sacked the capital, Lü Bu (3) at his side,
To the sound of trouble our heroes ride,
Bu the invincible no man could defeat,
Three brothers take up a triangle, their trap complete,
3: Lü Bu – Greatest warrior alive, with awesome strength and his red horse he inspired fear in all his enemies.
The Tiger escapes just with his life,
The tyrant and hero fight for a wife (4),
The southern warrior hides the jade seal (5),
While Zilong and Xuande share their first meal,
4: Diao Chan – A beautiful dancer that both Dong Zhou and Lü Bu wanted to wed. Wang Yun used this as a means to turn both on each other, by promising to let each one marry her, Lü Bu then killed Zhou.
5: Jade Seal – Special item that only the Emperor could possess, when Jain found it in a well and kept it meant he had ambitions to become Emperor.
Kong Rong sends for help from Liu Bei,
He comes with his brothers to save the day,
Zhang and Liu were now Tao Qian’s guests,
And Zhao Zilong joins in their great quest,
Sudden Illness strikes XuZhou’s Inspector,
The elder brother becomes its protector,
The younger two begin to elate,
But the traitor Bu steals the estate,
Jain (6), surprise victim, is shot in the mouth,
His son plants their kingdom down in the south,
Sun Jain the tiger, breathes his last,
Sun Ce his heir takes up the task,
6: Sun Jain – Pronounced ‘soon J an’, father of Ce and Quan. Founder of the Wu kingdom, was killed when attacking Liu Biao in an ambush.
Cao and Liu again form an alliance,
They jointly aim to crush Bu’s defiance,
But the warrior on Red (7) breaks up their force,
Now each brother takes a separate course,
7: Red Hare – Lü Bu’s famous horse, fastest horse of the age, with a wild fiery red coat. Later to become Lord Guan’s.
But while fighting old Bu all three unite,
Each one in turn tells tale of flight,
Captured by Cao, Lü Bu meets his end,
Liu Bei and Cao heroes among men,
Now in the capital the pride of the nation,
Liu is confirmed imperial relation (8),
Dong Cheng is given a coat with a mission Xuande and brothers sign his petition,
8: Liu Bei’s line could be traced back with the Emperor’s and he was found to be a descendant, from then on he was referred to as Imperial Uncle.
The emperor grieves under Cao Cao’s powers,
Bei at home attends to all his flowers (9),
Xuande farms to hide his intent,
To keep thoughts secret till a later event,
9: Referrers to the time when Liu and Cao were friends in the capital, Liu wanted to challenge Cao but couldn’t so he remained at home gardening to hid it.
Cao names the two heroes he believes are best,
Liu tries hard to hide his distress,
His anxiety masked by a natural distraction,
Liu Bei’s new assignment provokes reaction,
Liu is sent to stop Yuan Shu’s advance,
Ji Ling falls to Fei’s serpent lance,
Yuan Shu (10) defeated by the warrior brothers,
Zhang Xuan writes on behalf of others,
10: Yuan Shu – Relation of Yuan Shao, owned a province in the central plains of China, Liu was sent to prevent him meeting up with Shao and forming an alliance.
Zhang and Liu are scattered by Cao,
Now in retreat, Liu turns to Yuan Shao,
Guan surrenders (11) on three conditions,
Cao agrees, receives his submission,
11: Guan surrenders to Cao Cao, because he was trapped on the top of a hill, without any knowledge of his brothers’ location. So he surrenders to Cao on three conditions, one being that he can return to Liu Bei whenever he finds out where he is.
Lord Guan kills a general in the enemy camp,
Green Dragon flashes in Yan Liang’s lamp,
Lü Bu’s Red Hare Guan Yu then earns,
For his two brothers his heart still yearns,
News of his brothers reaches Guan’s old ears,
Determined to leave he suppresses all fears,
Six officers fall to Yun Chang’s blade,
And faces Xiahou Dun in eventful glade,
While travelling through the country side,
Guan and sisters encounter Yide,
Liu Bei escapes from Yuan Shao’s den,
And all three brothers are united again,
Sun Ce dies, powers pass to Quan,
New general Su unveils his plan,
A massive army deployed by Yuan Shao,
Cao sets fire to the stores of Wuchao,
Liu Bei and his commanders face defeat,
The famed Liu Biao destined to meet,
Serving Biao, Liu scatters the rebels,
Yun wins a steed marked by devils,
Cai Mao invites Liu to an ominous feast,
Xuande vaults a river on his dragon-beast,
In Still Water’s hut (12) Liu spends the night,
And hear tales of masters to aid his fight,
12: When at the Liu Biao’s feast, Cai Mao intended to kill Liu. Liu finds out about this and escapes on his marked horse. Trapped by the river Tan, Liu had no way out, but his horse waded the whole way across. Liu then spent the night in a peasant’s hut, it’s there he meets Master Still Water.
Shan Fu the scholar sings to a hero’s fame,
Liu enrols a general, who hides his name (13),
Against Liu, Ren deploys eight gates (14),
Shan’s tactics nearly seal his fate,
13: Shan Fu or Xu Shu a scholar of incredible ability, committed a crime when he was young and therefore changed his name. He was also a good friend of Zhuge Liang.
14: Eight gates – a special type of formation.
Frozen Glory (15) moves to capture Fan,
Cao Cao looks up the mother of Shan,
Family taken hostage, Shan must retire,
But names to Liu a dragon for hire,
15: Frozen Glory, Green Dragon – names of Guan Yu’s sword.
To find this master Liu must search,
Three times the sleeping dragon’s perch,
The thatched cottage of Zhuge Kongming,
Refuses to accept this Lord Liu’s ring (16),
16: Ring – metaphor for power. In this case refuses to work for Bei.
The sleeping dragon (17) now fully awake,
Reveals to Liu where to build his estate,
After many, many strenuous petitions,
Zhuge takes up their faithful mission,
17: Style – Zhuge Liang’s “nickname” was Master Sleeping Dragon (he was also known as the “Prime Minster of Shu”), and Pang Tong’s was Master Young Phoenix, these are the two scholars Master Still Water recommended to Liu Bei.
A one eyed (18) general had Liu Bei in his sights,
Zhuge proves his worth with an effortless fight,
The ease of Liang’s victory caused to all to elate,
While the purple (19) bearded Lord employed a pirate,
18: One eyed general – referrers to Xiahou Dun, who lost his eye when fighting Lü Bu. He was also the one who pursed Guan Yu, when Cao allow Yu to go to his brother.
19: Sun Quan – supposed to have a remarkable appearance with a purple beard and bright jade green eyes.
Dun then returned in rope and cord,
And was pardoned by his forgiving lord,
Cao decides to launch a second assault,
Kongming’s fire brings them to a swift halt,
Biao succeeded by an inferior man,
Kongming and Liu pull back to Fan,
The brothers faced a grim situation,
The decision is taken to move (20) the nation,
20: Even though Zhuge had fought off Cao’s assaults twice before, Liu would have to flee because this time Cao sent his whole army after him, there was no way he could put up a defence.
Lord Liu attempts to make his escape,
A human (21) river follows after his cape,
His beloved people’s hearts he had won,
But now together now they must run,
21: Liu’s virtue, righteousness and charisma had won the heart of the people he had served, so when they heard he was fleeing they abandoned their homes and followed him. Unfortunately this slowed Xuande’s forces down, because Liu’s refused to forsake them to Cao.
Cao and his army in hot pursuit,
Liu’s citizens speed along the route,
All that was heard, their hero’s voice,
To stand and fight their only choice,
Cao fell upon them like crows to meat,
The army stood, citizens ran so fleet,
During mayhem Bei’s family were lost,
Zhao Zilong must find them at all cost,
Zilong chases the trail that they ran,
At the rear of the runners was lady Gan,
Wife Mi now rests down in the well,
Holding the dipper (22) Zhao mustn’t dwell
22: Master ah Dou – Liu Bei’s son, his nickname was ”little dipper” because of the star constellation, which he was born under. This was the son Zhao Yun was destined to save many times.
Stealing a sword, Yun makes for the ridge,
Crossing to shelter at Sleepslope Bridge (23),
Zhang Fei stands alone, with fearsome lance,
Enemy generals unnerved by his glance,
23: At Sleepslope Bridge, Zhang Fei stood alone before the whole of Cao’s army and challenged them to fight, he gave a tremendous shout that gave on of Cao’s genera what seemed like a heart attack. This made Cao’s forces panic and flee.
Cao and his men shook from the shout,
A bellowing voice began the rout,
His challenge turned the army round,
No more baying from the great hound,
Defeated and ruined Liu was just alive,
Delighted to see Qi’s navy arrive,
Cao has another invasion (24) planned
Zhuge goes to visit the southern land,
24: Liu escaped but was almost ruined, Cao knew he wouldn’t be much of a problem so he turned his attention to Sun Quan’s lands (also know as Wu) in the south. If they fell Liu would be the only person able to pose a threat to Cao, so Zhuge Liang travelled to Wu to advise Quan and his advisors how best to fight off Cao.
Harmony in Shu
Kongming against Wu’s debater (25) horde,
Wields language like a dazzling sword,
Rallying Lord Quan to his justly cause,
From brother Jin (26) comes no applause,
25: When in the south Zhuge was faced by the scholars of Wu, who knew that Cao had an million man army, and wanted to submit. Surrounded by these men in the court, Zhuge debating with them and unnerving them all with his uncanny skill of debate. All by him self he proved them all wrong and convinced Lord Quan to go to war.
26: Zhuge Jin – Brother of Zhuge Liang who worked for Sun Quan, one of the three Zhuge brother. Liang in Shu, Jin in Wu and last who never aligned himself to anyone.
Zhou Yu (27) plots Wu’s survival,
Liang enrages his latest rival,
On a mission Zhuge’s brother came,
Only to return in steps of shame,
27: Zhou Yu – Sun’s main commander, he was an old friend of Sun Ce. Zhou Yu was a great leader and strategist, forced to join up with Zhuge Liang he realized that Zhuge was a potential threat to Wu and made a number of cunning attempts on his life.
The pirate lord, his long bow strung,
Kills Cai Xun with a single hum,
On the ocean (28) Wei (29) could not deliver,
Cao builds a city down the river,
28: Cao’s army of Northerners weren’t used to the ships and boats, many were subject to seasickness and preferred to fight on land. Wu however had an excellent Navy, which consisted of many pirates (most notable the great Gan Ning) and able commanders.
29: Wei – The name given to Cao’s Kingdom, much like Sun’s Kingdom called Wu. At this point in the story Liu doesn’t have a Kingdom yet.
Xuande pays a visit to Zhou Yu,
Guan wipes the smile of general Su,
Kongming realises the devious scheme,
Liu escapes back up the stream,
The Wu warrior deceives his friend,
His malicious cunning knows no end,
Zhuge again sees though the plan,
Zhou determined to murder his man,
To gather arrows, Zhuge assigned,
Perilous time limit, testing his mind,
Kongming and Su feast in the fog,
Cao Cao’s bolts fall on their logs,
Kongming mocks the powers of Wei,
Millions of arrows at the cost of a day,
Zhou Yu infuriated once again,
Zhuge Liang a hero of men,
To Cao’s host his mind then turns,
One million men are fated to burn,
Wei boats connected log to log,
Behind the scheme gifted Tong (30),
30: Pang Tong the second great strategist that Still Water suggested to Bei. His style was Master Young Phoenix, he was a great planner and devised the boat-connecting scheme to Cao. But unfortunately Pang was more reckless that Zhuge Liang.
Fu won’t betray Bei’s valued trust,
Pang Tong does as he thinks he must,
Zhou then falls sick over a breeze (31),
Zhuge convenes the wind with ease,
31: By this time it was decided that the way to beat Cao was to use fire, but the plan couldn’t work without a wind, when Zhou Yu realised this he fell sick. Zhuge Liang reassured him that a he could conjure the wind that was needed.
The plan complete, all things are ready,
Gai’s boats secret, silent and steady,
Cao’s realisation that he was conned,
Flare dragons dance upon the pond,
The whole three rivers now ablaze,
Cao trapped in a bonfire maze,
Zilong and Liang get on their way
Zhuge’s parting gift had won the day,
Cao runs for his very life,
Guan Yu spares him from this strife,
Victory won by Zhou Yu’s lies,
Liang steals his well-earned prize (32),
32: Prize – since Cao’s whole army was burnt at Chi Bi, he fled north, leaving Jingzhou unprepared, when the battle was won Zhou Yu’s intent was to capture it for himself, but when he failed, Zhuge Liang snatched the opportunity to take Jingzhou.
Ren and Yu go out and fight,
Liu relieves a town from sight,
Zhang and Zilong strike down two foes,
With Zhuge’s help the province grows,
The elite elder (33) brawls with Guan,
A worthy opponent, Master bowman,
Each comes to win the others respect,
Zhong and Yan mean to defect,
33: Elite Elder – Huang Zhong was a very old yet fearsome warrior, who was a master bowman. It’s rumoured he could 100 bull eyes with 100 arrows. He was truly a match for Guan Yu and could have killed him, but he respected him to much and defected with Wei Yan.
Liang sees treason in Wei Yan’s (34) eyes,
Liu sees no reason why he should die,
Zhou Yu still angered, full of lies,
Plans a wedding (35) of disguise,
34: Wei Yan – A man who had wished to join Liu for a long time, but was unable to find him. When Huang Zhong was about to be killed, he saved him and killed Han Xuan. When Kongming saw him, he wished to have him killed because he saw disloyalty in him. He was right much later when Liu and Zhuge where dead, Wei Yan rebelled against Shu.
35: In an attempt to kill Liu Bei, Zhou Yu arranged a marriage between Liu and Quan’s sister, to lure him to the Southland.
Liu Bei was to marry Lady Sun,
So sets off again to a southern moon,
Zhuge sends old Zhao Yun along,
Three bags of wisdom to counter wrong,
The first please the Wu state mother,
A rock broken by the elder brother,
Liu and Quan go out for a ride,
Evil intentions, no time to bide,
So Liu and Sun were finally wed,
Quan’s sister taken by Bei to bed,
In the south Xuande was kindly kept,
All Jingzhou’s people sorely wept,
Stranded, Zilong seeks to flee,
Zhuge’s bag holds a plan to see,
Lady and Lord bolt from the guests,
Zilong opens the sack of distress,
Pursuers fought off by the wife,
Liu Bei returns home with his life,
Zhou Yu walks into Kongming’s snare,
Sick of defeat, he falls (36) from his mare,
36: Due to being constantly outwitted by Zhuge Liang, Zhou Yu dies. Zhuge pays a visit to the funeral, where he recruits Pang Tong to their cause.
Old devious Zhou Yu eventually dies,
Liang chuckles at a star in the skies,
The phoenix finds its place of rest,
Little Pang Tong, no longer a jest,
Chao dreams of stripes and snow,
Father dead, and filled with woe,
Musters up his gallant force,
Cao the victim of his remorse,
Liu the last of the girdle pact (37),
Cao wheels north in time to act,
Ma Chao (38) leads his elite mass,
Each take a place at Tong Pass,
37: Girdle Pact – reference to Dong Cheng’s secret letter in his belt (verse 12), where a number of leaders agree to unite to destroy Cao. Among the leaders were Liu Bei and Ma Chao’s father Ma Teng.
38: Ma Chao – Son of Ma Teng, who owned a province in the north. A brave warrior, who went to war with Cao, when his father was killed in a trap by Cao. The place where the battle took place was called Tong Pass. There Ma Chao’s might had Cao so unnerved that he cut his bread and discarded his surcoat in an attempt to escape him. However Cao used his friendship with Han Sui to turn Ma Chao against him, giving him an opportunity to destroy Chao’s army. Thus Ma Chao fled, without a land or lord, he was set to wander.
Uncle Ma and Cao were friends,
Mend De uses this to his ends,
Sui and Chao turn on each other,
Their forces broken with effortless bother,
The alliance faces a terrible loss,
The warrior son seeks out a boss,
Alliance with Wei was something to gain,
Zhang Song (39) then lives up to his name,
39: Zhang Song – While in the capital Zhang Song can recite military texts as if they were common songs. He promises to help Liu take the Riverlands from within.
Finding Cao too strong in head,
Song to Liu’s name was led,
The land of Shu (40), Liu was to win,
But could he attack a man of kin?
40: Shu – The name given to the Riverlands controlled by Liu Zhang, Bei’s relation. When Liu took it over his Kingdom became known as Shu.
Riverlands of a second Liu,
The wealthy fortress land of Shu,
Pang (41) approached him day and night,
But Lord Liu refused to fight.
41: Pang was especially zealous about the conquest of the Riverlands and it was him who suggested it. Liu wholeheartedly refused to attack a man of kin, but when Zhang attacked him, Pang Tong took personal command of the army, which eventually lead to his own death.
Liu Zhang invites Xuande to visit,
To the kingdom he is admitted,
The fall of faithful servant Lei,
The great protest against old Bei,
The clan brothers weep and shout,
Eager officers begin to pout,
Dou is carried off by waves,
Alone Zilong fought and was saved,
Liu Zhang then betrayed his clan
Outraged Liu, arranged a plan,
Two assassins mean to kill,
Master Tong prevents their will,
Liu’s troops storm River Fu Pass,
No noble blood shed upon the grass,
Death of a general foretold by stars (42),
Pang Tong then misjudges his powers,
42: A letter from Kongming warned Liu Bei that; Jupiter was half through it’s cycle and Venus was nearing the handle of the dipper, this was a warning of the fall of the Phoenix.
Foreboding seen in Liu’s face
Phoenix fell swiftly from grace,
Tong screams out in pain,
The cursed mare at his rein,
Kongming startled by a star,
Zhuge’s army moves from afar,
Zhang meets loyal officer Yan (43),
Who in turn enrages his man,
43: Yan Yan – a intelligent officer who fought of Zhang Fei three times, but in the end was captured, he submitted and helped Huang Zhong in later campaigns.
Three times more Yan denied,
From the hilltop Zhang Fei spied,
Cunning plans capture Yan,
But Zhang now spares his man,
Fei and Yan advance unopposed,
Their voice spin friends from foes,
Zhong and Wei catch careless men,
The rival pair fall Zhang Ren,
Master Liang makes an appearance,
Fa Zhang falls sans interference,
Ma Chao scores many conquests,
Yuan’s force sets off in high distress,
Cornered Chao (44) now makes a choice,
For hero Liu, chance to rejoice,
“Spare the people” Liu Zhang folds (45),
Province of Shu, Liu now holds,
44: At this point Ma Chao joined Zhang Lu and was sent against Liu Bei, but he was captured and submitted. Together Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun , Huang Zhong and Ma Chao made up the five tiger generals.
45: Liu Zhang submits to Liu.
Into Chengdu (46) Liu Bei parades,
Liu’s kingdom of Shu was made,
Guan and Ma mean to test their muscle,
Zhuge’s compliments avoid a scuffle,
46: Cheng Du – was the capital of the Riverlands.
To the north, royal blood flows (47),
Cao Cao’s ambition grows,
Mengde then spies his next quest,
Hanzhong is set into the west,
47: Cao Cao kills the Empress Fu Wan, because she was part of the attempt to kill Cao, before he had her killed.
Pang De (48), the paladin left behind,
Against Cao he then holds the lines,
The valiant stand wins Wei’s respect,
Cao’s fine plan makes him a suspect,
48: Pang De – One of Ma Chao’s old allies, when Chao went to fight Liu Bei, Pang De was sick and stayed behind. When Wei invaded Hanzhong Pang held the defence. He later became a warrior under Cao.
He Fei’s plans from Quan were laid,
Gan Ning performs a lightning raid,
Liao was Ning’s equal in battle,
Even Sun’s very bones did rattle,
Tai’s sword was like a torch in fight,
His lord lost in the fray of the night,
In Meng’s boat Quan escapes,
Where a promising scholar (49) there awaits,
49: The scholar was Lu Xun, a young inexperienced officer but he had a great knowledge of military texts and was a brilliant tactician. He was the officer that led Wu at Yi ling. He was exceptionally young and had very little battle experience, so the mighty heroes of Wu found it hard to take orders from one such as him.
Cao ascends to Heaven’s throne (50),
People of Han they weep and moan,
So Cao Cao became the King of Wei,
Macbeth’s ambition won that day,
50: Cao Cao’s daughter was now married to the Emperor, and Cao declares himself King of Wei.
Against Cao the dead men do arise,
Mengde escapes from his demise,
Zhang Fei then drinks non-stop,
To lure He into his plot,
He pierces a Fei of straw (51),
But caught in an iron claw,
Fei roared and his teeth they gnashed,
As He for his very life, he dashed,
51: Zhang Fei had a habit of drinking, in this case he used this to lure Zhang He into his camp, and had a model of him made out of straw. When Zhang He came he sprung an ambush.
No trust then placed in old Zhong,
His mighty bow was already stung,
Zhuge argues that his time is past,
Zilong then makes hopeful forecast,
The elder displays his splendid skill,
Into enemy lines his hordes then drill,
He won’t stop to take a day of rest,
And then relieves Cao of the West,
Up the hills the old man raced,
Till fearsome Yuan he to faced,
Falling like rain on Wei’s offence,
With Yuan’s blood the grass was rinsed,
Cao stricken by fear, then ran,
And lost two teeth to opponent Yan,
Liu Bei refuses to become Imperial King (52),
He obliges petitions from Zhuge Kongming,
52: King of Hanzhong – Since the province of Hanzhong was captured, Liu had the right to declare himself King of his land. However he was too humble to do so, until Zhuge Liang tricked him into it. Liu Bei didn’t declare himself Emperor till later.
The Tragedy of Liu
Quan and Cao join together,
To stop Liu rise any further,
At Fan (53) they amass armies of gloom,
Guan gazes to his impending doom,
53: Guan Yu was in charge of holding Jingzhou at that time. He however made an assault on Fan castle, by diverting the river to flood the castle. At this time Lü Meng and Lu Xun decided that this was the best opportunity to attack Jingzhou, they retook the area that Zhou Yu had lost years ago, and killed Guan Yu.
The rains they fell both night and day,
By the mighty torrents was taken Wei,
Guan then was hit by a deadly arrow,
Escape from instant death was narrow,
Lu Xun cures a sham illness,
Meng ridden from his stress,
Yu’s son Ping (54), shows his vigour,
Guan faces a friendly (55) figure,
54: Guan Yu’s adopted son Ping. He ran into him when searching for Liu after he escaped from Cao. Ping was a mighty fighter that took after Guan Yu.
55: Guan faces one of his old friends that he made in Wei, Xu Huang.
Xun and Meng design a ploy,
Yun Chang they mean to destroy,
Siege of Fan has finally broken,
The cruel voice of fate had spoken,
Brother Liu had no rest at night,
The scimitar of Sun, soon to strike,
Lord Guan and son were stained,
God of War, in Heaven reigned (56),
56: Guan Yu and son Ping where executed by Sun Quan. When Wu realised what they had done they tried to blame it on Wei. But Cao was a good friend of Guan’s and buried his head with a wooden body.
Cao, a friend, buried Guan,
The red haired steed refused its man,
End of Shu marked on that day,
For all that was good (57) had passed away,
57: Referring to the end the brother pact, Liu becomes reckless and Fei is assassinated.
Liu usually so calm, collected,
Rose with anger (58), stood erected,
And into bellowing curse he flew,
Swearing to destroy the lands of Wu,
58: Liu Bei is ove come him grief when he hears of Guan’s death, he ignores all petitions and begins preparing for war with Wu, to avenge his brother. A few days later Zhang Fei is assassinated by two of his own officers, who then defect to Wu.
Cao the scholar, ends his years,
Son, Pi deposes royal peers (59),
From above, Guan and Cao gaze,
As Liu swears to set Wu ablaze,
59: Cao dies after being attacked by ghosts, his son Cao Pi, his heir, forces the Emperor to abdicate and becomes the Emperor himself. Liu proclaims himself Emperor in the name of the Han, the old dynasty, showing he doesn’t mean to usurp the Han but continue it.
Yide sleeps alone in his tent,
Murderous, evil thoughts were meant,
Zhang rests with two with eyes staring,
Traitors prepare to show their daring,
Second of the brothers fall,
From the South, the traitors call,
Liu marshals his last crusade (60),
From the capital, the peons parade,
60: Liu rallies a massive army of 700,000.
The last great march of Uncle Liu,
Madness spawned from within virtue,
Zhuge Jin comes to calm the advance,
Liu refuses compromise his stance,
Xuande causes Jin to quake,
Liu tells Sun, “to wash his neck” (61),
Father’s blood their fearsome heirs,
The sons make the battlefield theirs,
61: Liu’s exact words to Zhuge Jin telling Quan to “wash his neck, the executioner is coming”
Old Huang Zhong as aged as ever,
Makes for the front, determined to deliver,
But the elder was caught in a trap,
The next generation (62) up to save his sap,
62: When Huang Zhong was caught in the trap, Guan Xing and Zhang Bao had to go and rescue him, they were the sons of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei and they made a similar pact like that of their fathers, swearing to die as one.
The master archer passes away,
Two generals left, to make Wu pay,
The pirate lord circled by crows,
Then from Shu a foul wind blows,
Mighty Xing gets lost in a ravine (63),
Friendly neighbour offers him wine,
Father Guan makes takes a form,
His slayer stumbles into the dorm,
63: When out fighting Guan Xing gets lost and calls at a peasant’s house to rest, when he enters there is a small shrine to his father, and a few minutes later Guan Yu’s killer comes to the door as he is lost too. When he sees Xing he turns to leave only to be faced by the ghost of Guan Yu, and he is cut down by father and son. Thus Xing retrieves his father’s great sword.
Liu thirsts for blood, till revenge taken,
His sanity long ago forsaken,
Zhuge in the capital was concerned,
That his lord’s inner sense had turned,
Sweat poured from Quan day and night,
No one alive could match Liu’s might,
Kan Ze makes an unusual suggestion,
A young tactician put to the question,
“Caution for cowardice”, the heroes mocked,
But Xun’s juvenile will was locked,
His heart conceals a spark of hope,
The weary soldiers lay down and mope,
Xun sat smug like bird on a perch,
Shu’s soldiers resting under the birch,
Ma senses something is not right,
Surveys the land, a cause for fright,
Zhuge alarmed at Liu’s formation (64),
Sends Ma back to a grave situation,
Can Ma return to Lord in time?
The fatal knell begins to chime,
64: Liu Bei had stationed his troops in a long line, making many camps on the cool shaded ground beside the trees. Lu Xun had guessed he would do this, and realised the fault in his formation. However at this point Zhuge was back in the capital and wasn’t there to notice the error, fate had played into Xun’s hands. Ma Liang was very worried had wanted to do something so he took a map of Liu’s camps to Kongming, but it was too late.
Liu Bei rests alone in his tent,
Unaware of evil intent,
Arrows, flames soar in the sky,
Fire tactics used to break the tie,
Orange stars, fall to earth,
Grass transformed into a hearth
Devils in Wu, laugh at sight of flames,
Lu Xun intent to kill and maim,
Towering inferno (65) sweeps the scene,
This, the end of the virtuous dream,
Ma returns to a second Red Cliffs (66),
All round Yi Ling, thick smoke drifts,
65: inferno – Lu Xun attacked with a massive fire attack, since the camps were extend and near the trees the whole army was burn alive.
66: Red Cliffs was the name of the place that Cao’s navy was burnt. Yi Ling was the second occasion Wu used a massive fire attack to destroy a large army.
Burning alive, Liu runs for his life,
Still breathing, but without his wife,
Fu, Ji, Nan and Feng each meet their ends,
Zilong alone fights and defends,
Master Liang comes to Liu Bei’s aid,
Stone statues (67) in the river wade,
Xun wanders among the fearsome rocks,
Winds rise and fall, the eightfold (68) locks,
67: Zhuge Liang came to Liu Bei’s aid at the last moment, he place many piles of stone in a place called FishBelly Meadow. Lu Xun saw them and was aware of something strange but how could stones cause any harm?
68: Eightfold maze – The famous formation that was mentioned earlier. Zhuge cleverly arranged the stones in this formation, so when Lu Xun entered a sandstorm sprung up sealing them inside the maze.
Thus Liu was snatched from fatality,
Army burnt, a grievous causality,
Sense reawakened, Liu utters regret,
Brothers taken, oath now his debt (69),
69: Liu couldn’t avenge his brothers and so he was wracked with grief and died soon after.
A broken heart, split into three,
Recalls days past in peach garden tree,
All assemble (70) for Bei’s last act,
Worthy praise of Zhuge’s tact,
70: Liu couldn’t face his assembly in Cheng Du so they came to him, he the place he named “the place of enduring peace” where he lay on his deathbed. Where Zhuge Liang, the remains of the tiger generals and the officials from Cheng Du gathered to see him one last time.
Two unknown visitors at the door,
Guan and Fei, former ghosts of lore,
Brothers call Liu to his final fate,
Finally united on Heaven’s gate,
Humble beginnings for our faithful three,
The oath taken under the peach garden tree,
Their names Liu, Zhang and Guan,
All sought to restore the glorious Han,
Hero’s woken on that yellow day,
Scholars of cunning meet in Wei,
Men of courage bond to Wu,
Saints of virtue flock to Shu.
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All listed poetry copyright © 2005 Barbarosso