Volume 2, Chapter 27: Passing Judgment on the World

During the gathering, the Princess of Jingjiang smiled as she asked about the beautiful scenery of the world and was seconded by the Prince, setting up a drinking game. Before the game could begin, the Prince of Qi arrived. The three princes reveled, the party joyous and harmonious. For the time being, they all forgot the internal strife that was brewing.…

—Yong Dynastic Records, Biography of the Prince of Li

“Haha! A good idea! You can’t leave me out!” A clear and bright voice called out from a distance just as the crown prince finished speaking. Everyone turned to look and caught sight of Li Xian, the Prince of Qi, leisurely walking over. Behind him were Wei Ying and Xiahou Yuanfeng. Both the crown prince and the Prince of Yong’s expressions shifted, while Qin Yi could only wryly smile. He had never expected that his residence would be so lively.

Signaling his wife with a look, Qin Yi rose to his feet and stated, “What wind is blowing today that even Your Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, has come to my humble abode? I am truly overwhelmed by such favor.”

Li Xian stopped Qin Yi from kneeling, replying with a smile, “It’s a coincidence. Grand General doesn’t know, but Xiahou Yuanfeng and I originally planned on going out to have some fun. By chance, we ran into Wei daren. From him, I learned that both eldest brother and second brother came to visit the Grand General. I didn’t want to miss out on such a lively occasion.”

Li Zhi and the crown prince both felt relieved. They both knew that Li Xian would constantly look for trouble. It would be strange if he did not come to participate in today’s lively occasion.

Everyone sat in their seats, with the three sides clearly delineated. At this moment, Lady Qin had already stated her goodbyes and departed. As a result, the crown prince, the Prince of Qi, Li Hanyou, and Luo Jingzhong sat together; the Prince of Yong, Jiang Zhe, Sima Xiong and company sat together; and Wei Ying and Xiahou Yuanfeng sat with Qin Yi and Qin Qing. Qin Yong had already made an excuse and withdrawn. For the many distinguished personages gathered here, there were many subordinate bodyguards also gathered. Qin Yong departed in order to take care of them.

Li An ordered a servant to bring several jugs of strong wine, and also had them bring a large wine goblet. This kind of wine goblet could hold four catties of wine. If one had to drink three cups, no matter a person’s capacity for alcohol, he would be helplessly intoxicated. With a smile, he stated, “The rules of today’s drinking game are military orders. I wonder who is suitable to enforce the rules?”

Jing Chi promptly rose to his feet. “This general is not cultured. It would be best if I were to enforce the rules.”

Li Zhi smiled and replied, “Nonsense! The person enforcing the rules must be someone familiar with culture. How can you enforce the rules?”

Li Xian thought it over and declared, “Everyone wants to enforce the rules. The Grand General is a general from an influential family. His family has numerous skilled military retainers. However, there probably won’t be too many cultured and scholarly individuals. Since it was the Princess of Jingjiang’s suggestion, how about we let the Princess enforce the rules of the game?”

“I, your servant, am a weak woman. How can I enforce the rules?” queried Li Hanyou angrily. “Who doesn’t know the rules of your drinking game? The one enforcing the rules must also drink. Regardless of whether the person succeeds or fails, the enforcer must drink a cup. Are you not afraid that Hanyou will die from alcohol poisoning?”

Li Xian spread his hands and replied, “How about this? Let’s find an assistant for Li Hanyou. That person will only be responsible for drinking.”

Everyone exchanged glances. They all knew who had good capacity for alcohol. However, it would be awkward to become Li Hanyou’s assistant.

At this moment, Li Xian suddenly said, “How about this? You be her assistant.” So speaking, he pointed at someone.

Everyone turned to look. The person pointed to was the solemn Xiaoshunzi standing behind Jiang Zhe. Although Xiaoshunzi was only a servant, everyone present knew that he was a peak-level expert. It was only someone like Jiang Zhe who dared to treat him as a servant. Both the crown prince and the Prince of Yong would treat him as an honored guest.

Li Hanyou was overjoyed. She had originally intended to use the opportunity to ascertain the truth of Jiang Zhe’s situation. It would be good if she was able to attain a favorable impression from him. Unexpectedly, the Prince of Qi would work in concert, bringing Xiaoshunzi into the open and allowing herself the opportunity to fully employ her methods to entice these two men. At the very least, she could seize the opportunity to reduce their enmity. If not for the Prince of Qi’s lower status, Li Hanyou really wished to advise her master to utilize the Prince of Qi over that imbecilic crown prince.

Originally, all of Xiaoshunzi’s attention was concentrated on Jiang Zhe, going so far as to divide everyone else into two categories: those who were a threat to the young master, and those who weren’t. In these two categories, Li Hanyou was someone who was a threat. Recalling how this woman almost assassinated the young master, he really wanted to kill her with one strike. Were it not for Jiang Zhe whispering to him, “Do not worry, we have plenty of time in the future,”1 he would have acted long ago.

Now hearing the Prince of Qi’s proposal, Xiaoshunzi’s expression changed, his countenance immediately carrying a piercing, frosty killing aura. His pair of eyes emitted contempt, causing everyone to involuntarily increase their vigilance. At this moment, Jiang Zhe leisurely stated, “This is a good idea. However, Xiaoshunzi’s drinking capacity isn’t high. Drinking on the Princess’s behalf is an extremely exhausting task. If the Princess is willing to offer a hefty reward, even if he is unmoved, I will be moved.”

Li Zhi relaxed, agreeing, “That’s true.… However, since it was eldest brother who made the suggestion and sixth brother recommended Xiaoshunzi to assist, then you two shouldn’t be too stingy.”

Li Hanyou revealed a perfectly pure and innocent smile, as she replied, “Your servant came hurriedly. If it is not disparaged, how about using this as a reward?” So speaking, she removed a pair of diaphanous gloves from her waist.

Everyone looked at these gloves strangely, and could not help but begin to inquire. At this moment, Xiahou Yuanfeng smiled and observed, “The princess is truly generous. That surely is a pair of gloves made from the silk of the Tianshan ice silkworm. It is impenetrable to all weapons and is unaffected by all poisons. It is a weapon perfect for those who specialize in boxing.”

Li Hanyou glanced at Xiaoshunzi. As long as he was moved, even a little, then she would have accomplished her objective. No one knew that Xiaoshunzi would only glance at her tranquilly and simply say, “Much thanks to the Princess for your reward.” His expression did not change in the slightest.

Li Hanyou sighed inwardly. If Xiaoshunzi was happy because of these gloves, then his realm would not have been able to cast aside the lure of outside objects, allowing her to comprehend a bit of the depths of his mental state. Moreover, if he were to rely upon this pair of gloves, then it would be difficult for his martial arts to improve. Unfortunately, from his distant and serene response, she knew that he was aware of this principle and had already reached a realm where he no longer needed to rely upon weapons. Without the instructions from a famous teacher, it meant that his martial arts had already reached that realm.

“This Prince did not bring anything valuable on his person,” stated the Prince of Qi with a smile. “How about this? This Prince has a copy of an old edition of A Dream of Splendor that I unexpectedly obtained. Within are some long lost songs and verses. Is this Prince’s reward suitably precious?”

Xiaoshunzi’s expression changed somewhat. He had attended to Jiang Zhe for years and had once heard Jiang Zhe speak of this book. Moreover, the young master deeply regretted not having been able to take a look. Xiaoshunzi could not help but reveal a look of happiness, as he said, “Much thanks to Your Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, for your reward.”

Li Hanyou and company were left bewildered. Did this individual like books instead of martial arts? But when she saw a slightly cheerful expression appear on Jiang Zhe’s face, Li Hanyou was both delighted and worried. It seemed like Xiaoshunzi’s only weakness was Jiang Zhe. If that was the case, then it was impossible her to use any kind of expert. After all, with the importance the Prince of Yong attached to Jiang Zhe, even if Jiang Zhe were to pledge allegiance to her, she still would not dare to employ him. Fine.… It seemed like she could only use heavy methods. A look of determination flashed across Li Hanyou’s eyes.

Crown Prince Li An continuously cursed his bad luck. What could he reward? Both Li Hanyou and Li Xian’s rewards were already precious to the extreme. If his reward was only money or precious jewels, then it would be too tasteless. Just as he was hesitating, Xia Jinyi, who had been standing silently behind him, suddenly whispered into his ear. Li An immediately beamed with delight and said, “You can also not decline this Prince’s reward. Jinyi, send Lü Zhu2 and Cui Ying3 over tomorrow. These two women are this Prince’s beloved dancing girls. Be sure to enjoy them as much as you like.”

When these words were uttered, the atmosphere immediately grew chilly. Although no one spoke it clearly, everyone tacitly understood Xiaoshunzi’s identity. If he was an ordinary person, he would have to endure the teasing associated with this kind of reward. However, Xiaoshunzi was a peak-level expert. If he were to become enraged and make a move, no one here would be able to escape responsibility. Not only did the crown prince and the Prince of Qi’s trusted bodyguards raise their vigilance, even the Prince of Yong, Qin Yi, and the Prince of Yong’s subordinates all very carefully watched Xiaoshunzi’s movements.

However, everyone only saw Xiaoshunzi laugh instead of becoming angry. Instantly, he moved, immediately appearing in front of the crown prince. The crown prince was greatly alarmed, while Li Hanyou, the Prince of Qi, and Qin Yi all simultaneously moved before stopping. Although Xiaoshunzi was standing quite far away, he was the first to arrive before the crown prince. Moreover, the crown prince was not harmed, as Xia Jinyi had already stepped forward from behind the crown prince to block Xiaoshunzi. If Xiaoshunzi made his move, he would certainly not be able to kill the crown prince in one strike. As such, they would not rashly take action.

Li Zhi rose to his feet. Glancing at Jiang Zhe, he asked, “Li Shun, what do you intend to do?”

Everyone’s gaze fell on Jiang Zhe. At this moment, he was probably the only one who could stop Xiaoshunzi. I helplessly glanced at the anxious looks on everyone’s faces before I opened my mouth and said, “This subject thanks Your Imperial Highness for your rewards on behalf of Li Shun. Presumably, Your Imperial Highness feels that his usual burden is too heavy, thus sending him two maids to attend to him.”

At this moment, Li An was truly feeling some regret. Originally, Xia Jinyi had only suggested that he reward two beautiful maids. He was overly excited and actually sent two dancing girls and spoke in an implicitly mocking tone, inviting disaster upon himself. Although this individual was still several paces away from him, Li An could distinctly feel the coldness that this individual was emanating. Hearing Jiang Zhe speak, he promptly said, “That’s right! Your martial arts are exceptional and yet always perform the tasks of a servant. This Prince feels this is unfair.”

Xiaoshunzi suddenly revealed an placid smile. Bowing, he very respectfully said, “Many thanks to Your Imperial Highness for this reward.”

Everyone could finally relax. Li Hanyou reveled in finding another of Xiaoshunzi’s weaknesses. What she didn’t know was that Xiaoshunzi and I had already detected her probing and attention. The Prince of Qi’s reward caused him to reveal his biggest weakness, me. Therefore, I had deliberately looked happy. In reality, although that book wasn’t bad, it wasn’t enough for me to be unable to cover my joy. My intentions were to allow people to act against me. With the protection of Xiaoshunzi and the Prince of Yong, nothing should happen to me. However, Xiaoshunzi detected this. Seizing the crown prince’s mocking, he had deliberately become indignant, seemingly unable to hold back from making a move. In this way, everyone would believe that his cultivation was still lacking and would not specially target me. Although I knew his intentions, I could only allow him to act in this way. After all, in his mind, my safety was of utmost importance.

Once Xiaoshunzi retreated back to my side, Li Hanyou smiled and said, “Our drinking game should begin.” In reality, no one was in the mood to play games. However, since everything had already been set, then it would naturally have to be carried out. Moreover, there was a hint of competition, and thus the considerably tense drinking game began. Before the drinking game started, Wei Ying vaguely said something that many people did not notice. However, I heard his words clearly. He said, “Today is truly marvelous! This elaborate scheming against one another makes better viewing than any plays.”

I could not help but smile wryly. When did I become part of a good play in another’s eyes? Before, I was always a spectator.

At this moment, Li Hanyou explained with a smile, “This drinking game’s rules are simple. First, speak a location before reciting several verses. If the verses match the location, then I will approve. If they do not match, then the person will be punished with drinking three cups. We can’t copy the ‘pass the parcel’ game, so I will set the sequence. Regardless of who agreed to the suggestion first, the Crown Prince shall go first. I invite Your Imperial Highness to begin.”

Li An had already calmed his mind. With the honor of being the crown prince, even if he was not adept at verse, he had studied quite a bit. He thus recited, “Chang’an:

The early summer suits the spring scenery,

The harmonious light shines upon the capital.

Zhurong4 desires to defend,

While the Yan Emperor5 creates vermillion brilliance.

The day sends off the remnant evening,

The wind blows through and purges the imperial park.

From the outskirts rise fog

Lotuses blossom in the pool.

The shadows of trees overlook the mountains

The animals fly into the embrace of man.

Fortunate to meet by chance, Yao6 and Yu,7

Achieving total victory against the situation in the valley.”8

Everyone clapped their hands and voiced their approval. I was amongst them. However, I gave a mental shake of the head. The poetry that he liked lacked in the aura of an emperor. It seemed that he truly was not fated to take the imperial throne. Li An drank a cup of wine. Li Hanyou took a slight sip, while Xiaoshunzi drank a cup.

Li Hanyou smiled and stated, “After the Crown Prince, next should be the Prince of Yong.”

Li Zhi recited, “Youzhou: The grasslands are endless, reaching into the horizon, the border wind touches the harvest land. / Without reason, it comes from afar, at the end equipped with a Wu Hook.”9, 10 Finished reciting, he drank a cup of wine.

I understood behind the Prince of Yong’s choice of verse. The entirety of the Prince of Yong’s poem was:

The Prime Minister pushed aside the court curtains,

The tassels on the imperial crown serve within the cinnabar courtyard.

The position as lofty as the senior chancellor,

Authority is concentrated in the Han warlords.

Not changing the lands south of Zhou,11

And divided by the anxiety over the lands of Zhao.12

The twin banners cross the Yi River,

The thousands of horsemen enter Youzhou.

The grasslands are endless, reaching into the horizon,

The border wind touches the harvest land.

Without reason, it comes from afar,

At the end equipped with a Wu Hook.”

With this poem, the Prince of Yong was trying to explain to the crown prince that he only wished to remain a prince. Although it was unlikely that the crown prince would believe him, there was also no room to find fault in these verses.

Next was the Prince of Qi. Li Xian smiled slightly and recited, “Jinci Temple:13

Stepping through the forest at break of dawn,

Admiring the endless beauty of the lakes in Spring.

Written words will last through ages,

Empires conquered as armors worn.

The sun floods the vast plains with a blurry white,

While the mournful wind stirs lightly.

Grand strategies cannot be observed

Loneliness comes with lofty ambitions.”14

I played with my wine cup, thinking, So the Prince of Qi is always thinking about Northern Han, hoping to cross blades with Northern Han’s valiant cavalry. This man understands his limitations. Knowing that he doesn’t have the fortune to take the Imperial Throne, he single-mindedly wishes to become a grand general. Unfortunately, he has become involved in the conflict over the throne. It is likely that his aspirations will not be fulfilled. I looked towards the Prince of Qi, a look of regret in my eyes, only seeing Li Xian looking at me as well, his eyes filled with an indescribable exhaustion.

Qin Yi gently recited, “Luoyang:

On foot, I climbed up Mt. Mang’s15 northern slopes,

I gaze afar on Luoyang’s hills.

Luoyang, how quiet it is!

Its palaces and houses all burned to the ground.16

The walls and enclosures have all fallen and crumbled;

Thorns and briars rise and touch the sky.

I do not see elders from former days, I only see recent youths.

I step to the side, for there are no walking paths;

The overgrown fields have not been plowed again.

Travelers have not returned here for so long,

They do not know the way.

The fields—how barren and bleak!

For a thousand leagues there is no smoke from houses.

As I think on this place that was once my home,

My breath catches, and I cannot speak.”17

Others didn’t react much to Qin Yi’s poem, only recalling that Qin Yi hailed originally from Luoyang and was probably reminiscing about his homeland. However, Li Zhi was entranced by his verses and could not help but ask, “Is Luoyang really so barren?”

Qin Yi did not respond, only silently drinking a cup of wine. Li Zhi sighed and stated, “The area around Luoyang is strategically located and has been plagued for years by war. Even now, it is a land of famine and impoverishment.18 I will advise Imperial Father to rebuild Luoyang.”

Hearing this, Li An became resentful. In his mind, he thought, Is there a need for you to shoot your mouth off? Do I not know to remonstrate Imperial Father? If you weren’t contesting succession with me, I would have focused on handling these matters long ago. While he thought this in his head, nothing was revealed on his face.

As the sequence was in accordance to an individual’s status and position, the next person was Xiahou Yuanfeng. He smiled and recited, “West Lake:

The cold moon and spring seem to be frozen and can’t move and flow,
We sing the fisherman’s songs and don’t know where to go boating.

In the west wind, the white duckweed and the red knotweed,

The vast lake is of a singular color in autumn.”19

While others marveled at the grace and elegance of the poem selected by Xiahou Yuanfeng, I only smiled mildly. This man was a profound schemer, cunning and agile of mind. Even when reciting poetry, he did not forget to mask his actual temperament. If he had not come personally to explain his rescue of Vicious Killer, I probably would not have been seen through this man’s mask and would have considered him to be no more than a dissolute young master.

Following, Lu Jingzhong recited, “Changsha:

Here, where you spent your three years’ exile,
To be mourned in Chu for ten thousand years,

Can I trace your footprint in the autumn grass—

Or only slanting sunlight through the bleak woods?

If even good Emperor Wen20 was cold-hearted,

Could you hope that the dull Xiang River would understand you,

These desolate waters, these taciturn mountains,

When you came, like me, so far away?”21

His recitation had a certain modulation, his gaze falling upon me. Aside from the ignorant Jing Chi and Sima Xiong, everyone had an awkward expression on their faces. Everyone knew that Lu Jingzhong was mocking me, stating that although I was a great talent, I was not recognized a virtuous master. Naturally, in his eyes, it was impossible for the Prince of Yong to become emperor. Moreover, Lu Jingzhong’s verses were extremely vicious, cursing me, a guest from Southern Chu, to lose my liege, the Prince of Yong. Jia Yi was the Grand Tutor for Emperor Wen’s favorite son, the Prince of Liang, Liu Yi. When Liu Yi died from injuries suffered from falling off his horse, Jia Yi felt guilty and died grief-stricken a year later. I was thus another Jia Yi. Jia Yi had died at the age of thirty-three. It seemed like Lu Jingzhong did not intend to allow me to live past that age.

A cold look of implacable hatred flashed in the Prince of Yong’s eyes. He wasn’t blaming Lu Jingzhong for cursing him. As enemies, it was understandable to be cursed. However, Lu Jingzhong cursing Jiang Zhe to die a premature death caused his fury to surge up violently, as Jiang Zhe’s health was extremely frail after suffering an assassination attempt. Li Zhi was frequently worried that Jiang Zhe would die from of an illness, therefore was especially furious at Lu Jingzhong’s behavior. Just as he was about to cause a scene, I had already smiled and stated, “Junior Mentor Lu speaks well. I admire Jia Yi greatly. If I have the opportunity to visit Changsha, I will definitely pay a visit and admire his former home. Allow me to drink this cup with the junior mentor.” Finished speaking, I drank a cup of wine. My pale white complexion immediately gained a rosy color. Xiaoshunzi calmly gazed at Lu Jingzhong, a trace of killing intent flashing in his eyes.

In his heart, Lu Jingzhong was somewhat regretful of his words. He should not have been so rude. However, ever since this man had arrived in the Prince of Yong’s household, he always felt that his ploys were no longer as effective,22 leaving him feeling depressed. This time, he could not help but mock Jiang Zhe, partly to vent his anger and partly because he was somewhat knowledgeable about medicine. From Jiang Zhe’s weak breathing, Lu Jingzhong hoped that he would be die from excess anger.

Seeing the atmosphere worsen, Wei Ying opened his mouth and said, “It should be my turn. Zhongnan:23

How beautiful the north ridge of the Zhongnan Mountains,

Its snow-capped peaks floating in the clouds.

Woodlands after rain and snow unveils a bright blue sky,

Evening comes and the city grows increasingly cold.”24

After he finished, he drank a cup of wine. With this change of subject, the atmosphere began to improve. In my mind, I praised Wei Ying for indeed being educated by the prime minister, truly deserving of being Prime Minister Wei’s son. This poem was exquisite and fresh; however at the end it could not escape Wei Ying’s riches and honor, glory and splendor. Everyone knew that the Zhongnan Mountains were a shortcut to promotion.25

Following was the turn of the several generals present. Aside from Zhangsun Ji, they all showed signs of reluctance and embarrassment. Just at this moment, suddenly a servant hastily entered. It was one of the Qin residence’s retainers. Glancing at everyone, his face showing signs of reluctance and embarrassment, he walked towards Qin Yi and whispered into the grand general’s ear. Qin Yi’s entire body shook, waving his hand to dismiss his retainer. At this moment, the forces of several different parties simultaneously burst into the grounds—they were imperial bodyguards serving the crown prince and the Princes of Yong and Qi. I clearly heard them all report one thing: someone had raided the Ministry of War’s military equipment storehouse located on the Wei River, burning all of the equipment located there. Moreover, they had left a symbol behind. That symbol was a piece of Southern Chu tough silk that was as white as snow. Using blood, the piece of silk was written the characters, Embroidered Union.

At the same moment, the crown prince and the Princes of Yong and Qi all rose to bid their farewells. Li Hanyou pretended to not be aware of what was happening, rising to her feet, she said, “Everyone else can leave, but it’s Jiang daren’s turn. Jiang daren is a gifted scholar from Southern Chu. How can he leave like this?”

I knew that she was setting a trap. If I said that I was fond of Southern Chu, she would frame me for not forgetting my homeland. If I said that I was fond of Great Yong, she would mock me for forgetting my old relationships. I had understood this long ago. Therefore, when I heard her name me, I only peacefully recited:

“The booms of her drum harmonize with the zither to please the clouds,
From yonder the emperor’s soul is aroused.

Dances the water goddess so happily,

Southerners listen in daze.

Her performance induces metal and stone to sing merrily,

The clear tones fuse with echoes in space merrily.

The old plane tree is moved to express its admiration,

Scented white reeds release perfume for saturation.

The music flows with the Xiang River to its extent,

Then veers across Lake Dongting raising a whirl of desolation.

No one can be found whence the melodies ended,

On upper river verdant peaks silently stand.”26

“Zhe once heard of Concubine Xiang’s shrine on Junshan Island in Lake Dongting. People in the area would frequently hear two string instruments play in perfect harmony at midnight. No matter how much you want to see, you won’t be able to see. Today, I use this poem as my response to this drinking game. I wonder if it is appropriate?”

Li Hanyou’s long, shapely eyebrows knitted slightly, as if scowling. Jiang Zhe’s verse was filled with ghostly gloominess and yet also did not fully express his views, and could not be surmised. She could only angrily state, “Jiang daren speaks well,” drinking the remaining wine in her cup. Although Li Hanyou had only sipped at her cup, the Qin residence’s wine was incomparably strong. At this moment, her cheeks were rosy, rendering her even more beautiful. Her light frown and shallow anger caused her to be beautiful beyond imagination. Even the crown prince, who was in a rush to depart to handle the trouble, and the anxious Prince of Yong, could only stop in their tracks, dazed by her beauty. Qin Qing stared stunned, the only thing in his eyes the beautiful woman in front of him.

Footnotes:

来日方长, lairifangchang – idiom, lit. the future is long; there will be ample time for that later, we’ll cross the bridge when we get there
绿珠, lüzhu – lit. green pearl
翠莺, cui ying – lit. jade oriole
Zhurong (祝融) aka Chongli (重黎) is a god of fire and the south in Chinese mythology
Yan Emperor (炎帝) or the Flame Emperor was defeated and allied with the Yellow Emperor (黄帝) to form the Yanhuang tribe (炎黄), the progenitors of the Chinese people.
尧, Yao was a legendary Chinese ruler who was one of and one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. He was said to have invented the game of weiqi
禹, Yu was a legendary Chinese ruler who was one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. He was said to be the founding ruler of the Xia Dynasty and was said to have stopped a series of floods that had plagued early Chinese civilization
This is a poem by the Tang Dynasty poet, Zhang Yu (张聿), entitled When Summer Begins.
The 吴钩, Wu Hook is an ancient Chinese sword that was curved and designed to increase the hooking and kill potential of a sword.
This is from a poem by the Tang Dynasty scholar, Zhang Ji (张继), entitled Sending Off Minister Wang to Patrol the Borders at Youzhou.
Refers to the fief originally held by the Dukes of Zhou before overthrowing the Shang Dynasty.
Refers to the land north of the Yellow River.
晋祠, Jinci – the Jinci Temple or the Jin Ancestral Temple is a temple that dates back to the Zhou Dynasty located near modern-day Taiyuan
This is a poem by the Qing Dynasty poet, Zhu Yizun (朱彝尊), entitled Taizong’s Stele at the Jinci Temple.
邙山, Mangshan – Mt. Mang is located just outside Luoyang in Henan and is the location of many tombs dating back to the Han and Jin Dynasty
Refers to the sack of Luoyang by Dong Zhuo (董卓) in in 191 AD during the Three Kingdoms period.
This is a poem by the third son of Cao Cao, Cao Zhi (曹植). One of the most famous poets of his era, Cao Zhi is lamenting Luoyang’s devastation after it was sacked by Dong Zhuo. This poem is the second of two poems entitled Presented to Lady Ying.
民生凋敝, minshengdiaobi – idiom, lit. the people’s livelihood is reduced to destitution; famine and impoverishment
This is a poem entitled Autumn Moon over Calm Lake by the Song Dynasty poet, Sun Rui (孙锐). The poem speaks of the third of ten beautiful sceneries on the West Lake in Hangzhou.
汉文帝, Han Wendi was the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty
This poem is by the Tang Dynasty poet, Liu Changqing (刘长卿), entitled On Passing Jia Yi’s House in Changsha.
一帆风顺, yifanfengshun – idiom, lit. propitious wind throughout the journey; smooth sailing, to go smoothly
终南, zhongnan – refers to the Zhongnan Mountains (终南山), a branch of the Qin Mountains (秦岭) located south of Chang’an, modern-day Xi’an
This is a poem by the Tang Dynasty poet, Zu Yong (祖咏), entitled On Seeing the Snow Peak of Zhongnan.
终南捷径, zhongnanjiejing – idiom, lit. Zhongnan Mountains are a shortcut to a ministerial job; fig. to take a shortcut to promotion
This is a poem entitled Musical Soul of the Xiang River by the Tang Dynasty poet, Qian Qi (钱起).

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