The Battle Map
Du Fu (712-770)
The deeds today do not exceed those times
When battles broke our bloody lands in three.
As rivers flow, the stones stay still within:
The three states would not join in unity.
Bā Zhèn Tú
Gōng gài sān fēn guó
Míng gāo bā zhèn tú
Jiāng liú shí bù zhuǎn
Yí hèn shī tūn wú
Transliteration and Notes
Eight Column Map
Achievement exceeds three division nation
Fame turns-into eight column diagram
River flows stone doesn’t turn
Omit hatred lost swallow Wu-state
The “eight field map” is a graph designed by Zhuge Liang (181-234), chancellor of the Shu State, which consisted of eight battlefields used to drill troops or for combat. “Three division nation” refers to the Three Kingdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu) period (220-280 AD). “Omit hatred” means “eternal regret.” “Lost swallow Wu-state” refers to Zhuge Liang’s failure to conquer the Wu State. Thus the poem refers to Zhuge Liang’s vast accomplishments, but also his failure to achieve his ultimate goal of China’s reunification.
Besides being chancellor of Shu, Zhuge Liang was a great strategist, writer, engineer, and inventor. His innovations were among many during the Three Kingdom period, which led to it being widely romanticized in Chinese literature, including in the famous Romance of the Three Kingdoms.