China is blessed with numerous towers during its 5000-year history, 4 of which stand out above the rest, namely, Yellow Crane Tower, Yueyang Tower, Prince Teng’s Pavilion and Heron Tower, all of which have been well-known for their cultural connotation, especially in the form of poems by famous figures from various dynasties.
1. Yellow Crane Tower
Perched on the Snake Mountain in Wuhan of Hubei Province, roofed by over 100,000 pieces of yellow glazed tiles and supported by 72 cylindrical columns, the 51.4-meter tall Yellow Crane Tower is magnificent and stable with 60 graceful upturned eaves, which is just like a flying crane against blue sky and white clouds. It has been celebrated since the Tang dynasty for a homonymous poem by Cui Hao, in which he expresses his great frustration in his career and his deep yearning for his hometown through visiting this historical site and musing over the past, and an excerpt from which reads:
Yellow Crane Tower
A yellow crane has bore a sage to the Heaven
With nothing left now but the Yellow Crane Tower.
The yellow crane is gone forever and never returns
With white clouds floating without a sign
(Translated by Michael Young)
2. Yueyang Tower
Situated at the foot of Baqiu Mountain in Yueyang of Hunan Province, Yueyang Tower is 54.3 meters tall with the wide expanse of misty Dongting Lake in the west and the rolling Yangtze River in the north, which complements green mountain scenery in the distance and its reflection in the water as well. The poem – O Yueyang Tower by Fan Zhongyan from the Northern Song dynasty adds much luster to the tower, through which he shows his great concern to his relegated friend and state affairs when ascending the tower to enjoy a distant view, and an excerpt reads:
O Yueyang Tower
As I see, the tower commands a magnificent view of Lake Dongting, the best scenery of Baling.
A vast expanse of water, the lake is bordered by distant mountains and fed by the Yangtze River.
From dusk to dawn, it presents an ever-changing gallery of spectacles.
All this has been described in great detail in literature by ancient people.
What has been left out are poets and relegated officials, who have come in large numbers to this tower through the Wu Gorge to the north or the Xiao and Xiang rivers to the south.
As they look at the lake, would the tone of the view not produce a corresponding effect on their mood?
(Translated text from Ji Xianlin)
Author: Yang Qingwei