The Seventh Original Writing Competition
Junior High School Group
Written by An Xin-ran,
The 17th Middle School, Lanzhou, Gansu Province
Date: October, 2019
Intense snow has been clanging between sky and earth through the ages. The wine is warmed alongside knife and sword. The wind is raging for thousands of miles. When the bright moon is shining above the mountains and the sea, fellows of our generation are rushing to Jincheng city side by side in winter. The snow hasn’t thawed but bows are drawn and swords are raised. When the red sun rises, all diseases in the world will be dispelled.
Snow peak and the firmament • child
I was born in Mobei and grew up in a fortress of border area. What I’ve been listening to are Shaanxi opera and songs of Hu people. What I’ve been seeing are osseous remains of martyrs in the battlefield.
The snow that fell in the year when I was twelve was the heaviest in the last two decades. In the wind and snow all over the sky, my younger brother who was 8 years old at that time shouted excitedly and jumped on the field to play with snow. His shoulders were covered by snow.
I was leaning beside my mother, drinking hot ginger tea while watching the falling snow.
That was the winter of the fifth year of Yuanshou.
“Snapping the pallid grass, the northern wind whirls low. In the eighth month the Tartar sky is filled with snow.”
The elderly in my family told me that it was never so peaceful in previous winters. During that time wars broke out everywhere throughout the year. Ordinary people were all on tenterhooks and got through the winter in a muddleheaded state, not like today.
The scholar brother in the town told me all of the credit went to General Huo Qubing. Three years ago, General Huo led ten thousand cavalries out of west of Gansu. They fought in the five kingdoms of Hexi area, and then climbed over Yanzhi Mountain. The army made a rapid march of more than 1000 miles in six days. They inflicted heavy losses on Huns. Almost 9000 Hun soldiers were killed and the heaven-worship tool, heavenly Golden Man, of Huns was also captured. He was given a reward of 2000 households for this credit. After that, he decided to penetrate deep into the enemy territory and this time they killed more than 30000 enemies.
Since then, our Han Dynasty had controlled Hexi area. Huns mourned over this and sang:”the loss of our Qilian Mountain made our livestock unable to reproduce; the loss of our Yanzhi Mountain made our women unable to be glamorous when they got married.”
When he mentioned it, he was so excited that he kept telling me that the only place that deserved the name of Jincheng City was here as our defenses were as strong as iron.
I looked into the distance and saw the vague outline of Qilian Mountain standing in the wind and snow. I didn’t know when the sun was rising up in the blue sky. It appeared that the snow was dyed glory.
“It’s like that spring breeze arrives suddenly overnight that makes pear flowers bloom on thousands of trees.”
When my parents and I were seeing the officers and soldiers off, the snow was getting heavier. The snow-topped peak in the distance was still standing tall and upright like it’s up against the firmament. The red sun was still magnificent.
I saw it. I saw it! I saw a figure that stood proudly in the end of the red sun. The peak was like a three-feet sword pointing at the vast water. The towering Qinling Mountains were by my side. Yellow River was running under my feet.
Here is Jincheng City. Here is Han Dynasty.
All at once, I burst into tears under the red sun.
Sleet for ten thousands of miles•soldiers
It’s been snowing thick and fast from day to day. It’s whitened the stone inscription on the monument, whitened the green mountains and weapons, and whitened the wind and sand in the vast desert.
“The snow flies into the beaded curtain and wets the tent. It’s so cold that you won’t feel warm even in fox-fur robe and damask quilt seems too thin.”
The fourth year of Yuanshou.
I joined the army in the fourth year of Yuanshou. At that time it was also winter but the snow wasn’t such big. It’s been a long time that the people and words of that time was already fuzzy but the background became clearer and was still vivid in my mind through the years.
At that time, the red sun was shining through thousands of miles.
The other day I went to the town and ran into a scholar. I was annoyed by his mouth full of pedantic terms. I wasn’t in the mood for chatting with him about these stuff. What I had been constantly thinking of was some good wine. Do you know how to call this? He said. This is a verse: “Don’t laugh at me if I get drunk and sleep in the battlefield. How many people can get back from the war since ancient times?”
I just thought he was cussing me and cursing me to die. I joined the army when I was 15. I didn’t have time to read any form of poetry. I was at war almost every day. When I thought it over I realized that it’s been more than ten years. I spent most of the time fighting against Huns in the northwest. The situation wasn’t good in the past. It was only in recent years that we started to win the battles frequently.
In these years, following General Huo, we had been to Hexi and climbed across Yanzhi Mountain until we came to Gaolan Mountain. Then we penetrated deep into the enemy territory.
On the day we won the war, the emperor bestowed a jar of imperial wine on the meritorious officers and soldiers. Since the soldiers were many and the wine was not enough to go around, General Huo poured the wine into the spring and drank the water along with all people. The horses were whinnying and the wind was rustling. The sand in the desert was so vast. Eight hundred warriors were drinking wine and singing songs together.
This time when we went out to battle, all folks of the town came. They prayed for our triumphant return. A little girl of about eleven or twelve years old even cried when she was looking at us.
At that moment I thought I wasn’t able to come back. I departed for battle at this place for eight times out of ten. It used to be sandy day when people’s eyes were hazed and the blue sky was disturbed by the yellow sand, but this was the first time it snowed.
The figures of officers and soldiers in front of me were like a meandering ink river in the wind and snow.
Winter, Jincheng City, battlefield.
The sun in the sky, please watch Han Dynasty and Jincheng City instead of me if I never come back. Please bless this place with impregnable defenses and bless the people with happiness and health.
“It’s too cold that the general can’t draw the bow. The protectorate’s armor is too frozen to wear.”
“The ice is thick and forms a criss-cross pattern in the vast desert. Gloomy clouds are clustering in the boundless sky.”
“A farewell dinner is given in the tent of the commanding general to the guests who are about to return to the capital. Huqin, Chinese lute and Qiang flute are played together for entertainment.”
“The snow keeps falling in front of the gate of the barracks. The red flag is frozen still that even the wind can’t blow it.”
Hundreds of boundless rivers•scholar
I had learned a thousand characters when I was three. I had read The Book of Songs when I was five. I had read The Four Books and The Five Classics for several times when I was seven. I had a good command of verses, ditties, odes and songs when I was nine.
I could go anywhere as far as I could see.
It was an ordinary winter day in the fourth year of Yuanshou.
In the town, a child asked me what the regions south of the Yangtze River were like, whereupon I told her about the red peach blossoms and green willow, the glittering lake, the pavilions, terraces and towers. She was enchanted and couldn’t help muttering that it was so beautiful.
I felt upset all of sudden. At that time it was deep winter. The wind was howling and it was snowing heavily. I pushed the door and stretched out my arms in the wind and snow. I told her, “there isn’t anything good in the regions south of the Yangtze River, so I will just give you a branch of plum blossom to express the blessings of the coming spring”. But the Great Northwest was different. What I held was the power and courage from our shining spears and armoured horses, and the boundless mountains and rivers.
It was too cold in winter. I felt that my face was pale. But as the saying went - “If a person had courage in the blood, his/her face would turn red. if a person had courage in the bone, his/her face would become pale; if a person had the courage in the mood, his/her face would turn blue.” Wasn’t the land under heaven in the arms that an upstanding and dauntless man asked for?
If the country was at peace, we were willing to be an ordinary man and wander about all corners of the country. If the country was no longer prosperous and was about to collapse, we would risk any danger to fight for it.
This was courage and uprightness that wouldn’t be covered by wind or snow.
This was the courage and uprightness of the Great Northwest. The courage and uprightness of China!
The sunlight shining on me warmed me up a little.
The red sun had just risen • storyteller
I wrote a story.
In this story, there was immature but determined children, soldiers who knew they might never come back but still proceeded without hesitation, and scholars who were physically weak but were still concerned about people in the whole country.
They didn’t have their way home nor the way ahead. They were just standing alone in the wind and snow. What they were concerned about is the land called Gansu in the northwest, a winter day of heavy snow, three glowing hearts and a red sun in the blue sky.
The wheels of history kept moving on. A dynasty declined and fell and another dynasty emerged. The sun and the moon come up and go down alternately. Times change. Time is changing but the land is still the same and so are the people of this land. These determined and proud people constitute the sky of Gansu. Such quality is the feature of our Gansu. It’s the inheritance carved in our blood.
Gansu is not like other places. It’s not the land of warmth and tenderness. It’s been soaked with snow and sand and covered all over with scars together with us. Jincheng City(Lanzhou), Jiuquan, Yumen Pass, Dunhuang, Qilian Mountain, and Mogao Caves, all of which remind us of wars.
Gansu is like a jade ruyi and a piece of unprocessed jade. Painstaking effort is devoted to cutting and polishing it carefully. Once the jade is completed, it will radiate brilliant light that the whole world will see its glory and everything else will be dimmed by its radiance!
I find my own red sun. I wish it can dispel all demons and devils, wiping out all the dust over the whole world. To lift this red sun up in the blue sky again, I will balk at no sacrifice, even that of my life.
Seas today were mulberry fields at that time. Even the sky and the earth are ordinary. But the most beautiful red sun in winter will never die out.
Expert comment 1
The article is wild in imagination, ingenious in conception, and bold and unconstrained in momentum. The writer shuttles back and forth in different times and spaces to describe the local customs and practices of northwest region. The writer plays different roles to express historic feelings. The dialogue of characters is natural and the description of the scenes are life-like. Ancient poetry appropriately quoted manifests the writer’s daily accumulated wealth of literature. The article displays the features of the writer’s hometown and also his/her aspirations. Historical blood is inherited here!
Expert comment 2
Very imaginative. The images are distinctive. The article has a tension in its story lines and is dramatized. The atmosphere is very attractive. The writing technique is also very creative and highlights the fascinating scenery of the writer’s hometown.