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The first two stanzas of this poem are realistic, written in a simple and plain style and the third more imaginative, written in a picturesque style. In AD 207 Cao Cao (155 – 220), King of Wei State, who had unified northern China, came to the Rocky Hill, which is now situated 8 km north of Changli County and 15 km west of the sea, and wrote this poem which described not only the external world but also his own internal world, that is, his unbounded ambition. Just as the sea seemed able to swallow sun and moon, Cao Cao thought he could conquer Wu in the south and Shu in the west and unify the whole country. His grand army, boasting eight hundred thousand men, marched south against the eighty thousand strong Wu navy. Just as Antony, who was good at fighting by land. Cao Cao was defeated by General Zhou Yu at Red Cliff, which was often glorified in later poetry for it was a victory against heavy odds.
I come to view the boundless ocean
From Rocky Hill on eastern shore.
Its water rolls in rhythmic motion,
And islands stand amid its roar.
Tree on tree grows from peak to peak;
Grass on grass looks lush far and nigh.
The autumn wind blows drear and bleak;
The monstrous billows surge up high.
The sun by day, the moon by night
Appear to rise up from the deep.
The Milky Way with stars so bright
Sinks down into the sea in sleep.
How happy I feel at this sight!
I croon this poem in delight.