船逆流而上经过夔门，就到了白帝城。白帝城位于长江北岸，是草堂溪和长江的汇合处，与瞿塘峡峡口夔门隔江相对。白帝城山头高耸，是扼控长江的一个战略要地。如今的白帝城已经成为一座孤岛，三峡大坝建成后，高升的水位，淹没了白帝城连接北岸的山岗，使原来三面环水的山峰，成为四面环水。在这里，是观赏长江入夔门最佳景点，杜甫当年站在白帝城的峰顶，目睹激流拍岸争入夔门的壮观景象，写出了“众水会涪万，瞿塘争一门”的诗句，把夔门的水势活画出来。白居易在此留下“上有万仞山，下有千丈水，苍苍两崖间，阔峡容一苇。瞿塘呀直泻，滟滪屹中峙。大石如刀剑，小石如牙齿，一步不可行，况千三百里。”陈毅将军留诗：“山川壮丽欣重睹，旧梦依稀认血痕。千万险滩皆稳渡，水头如剑入夔门。” 这里的江心之中，原有一庞然巨石，砥柱中流，名为滟滪堆。冬秋水枯，显露江心，长约30米，宽20米，高40米，好似一头巨兽横街江流。夏季洪水暴发，狂澜在这里腾空而起，旋涡千回百转，形成“滟滪回澜”的奇观。使来往船只经常触礁沉没。有民谣云，“滟滪大如马，瞿塘不可下。”杜甫写道：“巨石水中央，江寒出水长。沉牛答云雨，如马戒舟航。”北宋诗人范成大曾幻想有一天：“不知滟滪在船底，但觉瞿塘如镜平。”这一“瞿塘如镜”的梦想，持续了近千年。直到解放后，滟滪巨石被炸除，郭沫若欣喜题诗：“滟滪已无堆，瞿塘仍可危。岸崖双璧立，峡道九肠回。云彩留军帽，江声隐雾帷。若言风景异，三峡此为魁。” 而三峡大坝建成后，“瞿塘如镜”这一梦想更成为现实，“高峡出平湖”，白帝城下已成为天然的避风港，瞿塘如镜，再已没有危险可言。
White Emperor City Is A Poetic Mountain
By Wang Yongli
The City of the White Emperor, or Baidi, is well known in China and is located on the bank of the Yangtze River, near Chongqing. The White Emperor Temple is in the city, built in the late Western Han Dynasty as a memorial to remember the White Emperor named Gongsun Shu. This is when the city was named Baidi, but what made it famous is not the temple, but Li Bai’s poem “Early Departure from Baidi”. Even three year old Chinese children can recite the famous poem by the great poet of the Tang Dynasty: "I bid farewell to Baidi in the colored dawn, but my boat will cover one thousand miles to Jiangling by night-fall. Monkeys are still calling on both banks behind me, but my boat passes these ten thousand mountains away.” Through the poem the City of the White Emperor is deeply impressed into every Chinese mind, but what I find is that the City of the White Emperor in fact is a poetic mountain.
After traveling upstream by boat through the Kui Gate, I enter into Baidi. The City of the White Emperor is located on the north shore of the Yangtze River, at the confluence of Cottage Creek and the main stream of the Yangtze River, opposite to the Qutang Gorge and the Kui Gate. The White Emperor Mountain is also a strategic point, towering tall and choking the control of the Yangtze River. But following the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, the City of the White Emperor is now an island as the water level has risen and flooded the northern part of the city that connected to the north bank. This is a good place to watch the Yangtze River flow into the Kui Gate. The famous Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu used to often stand on the peak of the White Emperor Mountain to watch the exciting spectacles, such as whitewater surf competitions at the Kui gate, and he wrote: "The water gathered and gathered in millions of tons, and rushed into the Kui Gate." The verse is a portrayal true to the scene. Another famous poet of the Tang Dynasty Bai Juyi engraved his poem in a rock as: "Ten thousand meters high above in the cliffs, and a thousand meters deep into water under my feet. Between the vast two cliffs, only one boat would be able to pass the wide gap. The current, like a waterfall rushes down into the Qutang Gorge, lashing, but there are some huge rocks in the middle of the river, and the startling breakers slap the rocks. The biggest rock is like a huge sharp sword, while the smaller reefs are like the wolf’s teeth, so they make it impossible to move one step forward, never mind forging ahead through one thousand or three hundred kilometres of waterway." General Chen Yi engraved the poem here: "I am happy to look at the magnificent mountains and rivers again, but the bloodstains are still vaguely recognized in my old dreams. We passed thousands of dangerous rapids, but the current, like arrows are flying into the Kui Gate." In past times the huge boulder, named the Surprising Heap, played an indispensable role. In winter, it looked about 30 metres long, 20 metres wide and 40 metres high, exposed above the great river, like a beast stopping the current. In summer the huge rock was flooded, but it pushed the waves into the sky, forming innumerable vortexes, twisting and turning. It made the current a surprise, so ships often sank here after crashing on the reef. A folk saying goes: “If the surprise wave is as large as a horse, no boat can go through the Kui Gate.” Du Fu wrote: "The huge rock in the middle of the river in the cold season is even more huge. In a heavy rainy season it answers the change like cattle sinking into the water, the waves, like a horse tells people not to boat through the Kui Gate." The Northern Song Dynasty poet Fan Chengda had a dream one day: "there is no surprising turn wave under my boat, the Qutang will become a peaceful mirror."
However the dream of the Qutang becoming a peaceful mirror lasted for nearly a thousand years. After the liberation, when the huge rocks were blown into pieces there was no more surprise turning wave. The famous poet Guo Moruo wrote a poem with joy: "There is no more heap or surprise turning wave, but the Qutang is still a great gorge. The vertical cliffs stand on the two banks, while the channel winds nine times like an intestine. The clouds cap the mountain peaks, the sounds of waves can be vaguely heard from the hidden fog curtain. If stating the difference in scenery now and before, I would say the biggest change that happened to the Three Gorges in the Kui Gate." To make the thing happier, after the completion of Three Gorges Dam, the dream "Qutang becomes a peaceful mirror" finally turns into reality. It is just like how Chairman Mao described, "the high channels become a calm lake." Now the City of the White Emperor is a good natural harbor and the Qutang Gorge as a mirror is not dangerous any more.
In the City of the White Emperor I find that much of the calligraphy, engraved on the stones is written by former leaders such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Jiang Zemin. The contents are Li Bai’s poem "Early Departure from the City of the White Emperor." Reading them, all sorts of feelings well up in my mind. These leaders of China love the motherland so much that they put their feelings into beautiful eternal poetry. Their calligraphy adds to the city on the White Emperor Mountain with thick and heavy colours. In the City of the White Emperor everywhere you can find poems engraved on stones. The collection contains over one hundred pieces of inscriptions, poems, couplets, paintings and calligraphy works written by poets from the Sui, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties to contemporary times. It is no more than a superb collection of beautiful things. You can say that it is a museum of relics in the Three Gorges. Among them, the most interesting one is a poem written by Emperor Kang Xi: "Only birds can pass the dangerous cliff, but in the remote green mountain there are some houses. The peach garden must be in the middle of the woods. The falling flowers are floating on the mountain stream.” The fancier thing is that the poet Ceng Chongde in the Qing Dynasty carved the words of Bamboo Tablet on a stone. At first glance, you see a rigorously composited picture in which three green bamboo branches are dense and swaying. It is so vivid and beautiful. But if you read carefully, you will find that it was to be a poem: "No thanks to the east bamboo, but a painting can be famous alone. Please never dislike the isolated leaf light, it will never wither.”
There are many poems that praise the City of the White Emperor. When the poet Li Bai wrote "Early Departure from the City of the White Emperor", he had just finished his punishment of exile. He was sentenced to exile as he was implicated in the crime to stop Emperor Su killing Prince Li Lin for the throne. Li Bai was exiled to a remote place named Yelang. The sorrowful and long journey made Li, fifty-eight years old, white haired. But when Li Bai arrived at the City of the White Emperor, Emperor Su in leniency forgave Li Bai. Li Bai would go home by boat, to return to Jiangling. He was so excited to write about this as a poetic masterpiece. Liu Yuxi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty visited the City of the White Emperor and lingered here for a long time and wrote: "The City of the White Emperor is full of spring grass, and under the White Salt Hill the stream of Shu is clean. The southerner sings a song, but the northerner could not bear the nostalgia." He also wrote: "The noises of the Qutang’s current are so tremendous among the twelve stone piles. The road has been very difficult for travelers from ancient times to now. The hate has been in people’s hearts for a long time, how can the calm water suddenly become a torrential current?” Poet Bai Juyi stayed at a hotel for one night in the City of the White Emperor and wrote: “A mist covers the mouth of the Qutang, while the moon shines on the west of the City of the White Emperor. The waving bamboo sings in a hoarse mournful voice, and then in the cold dark birds and apes weep sorrowfully."
Poet Du Fu used to ascend the mountain and wrote the poem “Ascend”: "The apes weeping echoes in the windy sky, while the islets are bleak with white sand and birds fly back to nests. The boundless forest sheds its leaves shower by shower; the roaring waves of endless water roll forward. For thousands of miles I’ve roamed in autumn; in my later years I’m too ill to ascend this height alone. These harsh days, bitter life and deep hatred turn my hair pale. My weakness makes it so I can hardly drink the liquor.” He also wrote another poem “The Mood In the Autumn”: "The jade-like dew made the maple woods withered and hurt; the Wu Mountain and Gorge, full of bleak and chilly air. On the river waves surge to the sky, but on the frontier the black clouds cover the ground. A bound of chrysanthemums bloom again with tear like dew, but I am lonely on a small boat with the heart of nostalgia. The cold like a knife made my clothing small in size. The black evening dark harshly covers the high City of the White Emperor." Chen Ziang a poet of the Tang Dynasty came here and wrote a poem "Nostalgia in the City of the White Emperor". Fan Chengda of the Song Dynasty wrote his poem "Red Mountain" here, and the Qing Dynasty poet Zhang Wentao wrote his poem "Qutang Gorge", depicting what he saw, heard and felt. These poems about the City of the White Emperor add profound cultural background and are the cream of traditional Chinese culture.
The City of the White Emperor was a witness to tragic history. At the end of the Han Dynasty, especially during the period of the Three Kingdoms, Shu emperor Liu Bei could not bury his great grief after general Guan Yu was killed in Jingzhou and another of his generals Zhang Fei was assassinated in Sichuan. So he made a decision and personally led the army to attack the Eastern Wu. But in the Yiling battle, the Eastern Wu general Lu Xun defeated the Shu troops with the plot "to set fire and burn down the Shu camps for seven hundred miles". Liu Bei fled with only 100 soldiers and retreated to the City of the White Emperor. Liu Bei was ill from the constant hard battles and failures, and was at the death’s door. He ordered his Prime Minister Zhu Geliang to meet him and discuss his last arrangement. He asked Zhu to help his son ADou to be the king of Shu. After Liu Bei’s death, Prime Minister Zhu Geliang made great efforts to assist ADou to control the country of Shu. He was so loyal and devoted all he had to the country. The story passed all through the ages and became an historical anecdote. In the White Emperor Temple there is the Hall Entrusted to the Orphaned Son, the Ming-liang House and the Temple of Marquis Wu; each has its story and is full of historical allusion, letting visitors review the history of China, and making me study Chinese civilization and the spirit of loyalty and devotion.
Standing on the uppermost platform of the City of the White Emperor, I overlook the Kui Gate and I find the words that General Feng Yuxiang, in the war of resistance against Japan engraved on the cliff are still visible: "Step out of the Kui and Wu mountains, to fight off the Japanese". Sovereignty will not suffer any infringement. Wanting to protect the motherland arises spontaneously from my heart. In the motherland, mountains and rivers are so grand and great. Today, to make our country richer, stronger and more prosperous, all of us should put forth all efforts! Even if many difficulties stand in front of us, we must march forward courageously, never yield in spite of set backs, thinking of our beautiful and poetic country!