Precious hairpin, broken, halved
At the Peach-Leaf Ferry where
We parted; darkening mist and willow shroud the place.
I dread to climb the tower-top stair;
Nine days out of ten wind raves, rain torrents race:
It breaks my heart to see the scarlet petals scatter one by one.
All this with nobody to care
Above it – who is there
Will bid the oriole’s singing cease?
Xin QiJi was born on this day in Licheng (now Jinan) in the Shandong Province of China in 1140. Today is the 873rd anniversary of his birth.
He was born to an age of conflict. Northern China was occupied by a nomadic “horde” from north-east China called the Jin or Jurchen.
In his childhood his grandfather told him about the time when the Han Chinese ruled the north and told him to be an honorable man and seek revenge against the barbarian for the nation. It was then when he developed his patriotic feelings. [Cultural China.com]
At 22 he began his military career with a group of fifty men under his command. He fought along side Geng Jing with his 10,000 strong army. After some success in 1161 Xin QiJi convinced Geng Jing to …
…Join forces with the Southern Song army in order to fight the Jurchen more effectively. … but just as Xin finished a meeting with the Southern Song Emperor… Xin learned that Geng Jing had been assassinated by their former friend-turned-traitor, Zhang Anguo (张安国). With merely fifty men, Xin fought his way through the Jurchen camp and captured Zhang Anguo. Xin then led his men safely back across the border and had Zhang Anguo decapitated by the emperor. [Ibid]
His bravery, military prowless, and loyality to Geng Jing, his men and the Emperor “gained him a place in the Southern Song court.” [Ibid]
He was frustrated by the courts appeasement policy toward the invaders, and kept from a position of influence by being given “a series of minor posts” [Ibid] in the court.
Although he was an effective ruler on the district level (where he improved the irrigation system, helped poverty-struck peasants and maintained well trained troops) it is through the poetry that he began to write when he moved to the South that is known for today.
Xin Qiji’s Song poems are “powerful and sonorous , embracing the world and history”. As a patriotic lyricist , he sang of the sorrows and joys of the time , and the indignation and hope of the nation , pushing the Song poems up a new peak . [Ibid]
When young, I knew not the taste of sorrow,
But loved to mount the high towers;
I loved to mount the hight towers
To compose a new song,urging myself to talk about sorrow.
Now that I have known all the taste of sorrow,
I would like to talk about it, but refrain;
I would like to talk about it, but refrain,
And say merely: “It is chilly; what a fine autumn!” [Ibid]