Joy of Eternal Union-Thinking of Ancient Heroes in the Tower on the Northern Hill at Jingkou
- Poetry of Xin Qiji


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 10:26:29

Joy of Eternal Union-Thinking of Ancient Heroes in the Tower on the Northern Hill at Jingkou by Xin Qiji









English Translation

The land is boundless as of yore,

But nowhere can be found

A hero like the King defending Southern shore.

The singing hall,the dancing ground,

All gallant deeds now sent away 

By driving wind and blinding rain.

The slanting sun sheds its departing ray 

O'er country tree-shaded and grassy lane 

Where lived the Cowherd-King retaking the lost land.

In bygone years,

Leading armed cavaliers,

With golden spear in hand,

Tiger-like,he had slain

The foe on the thousand-mile Central Plain.

His son launched in haste a Northern campaign,

Defeated at Mount Wolf,he shed his tears in vain.

I still remember three and forty years ago 

The thriving town destroyed in the flames by the foe.

How can I bear

To see the chief aggressor's shrine 

Worshipped'mid crows and drum-beats as divine?

Who would still care 

If an old general

Is strong enongh to take back the lost capital?

In 1204,the 66-year-old poet was appointed governor of Jingkou (present-day Zhengjiang,Jiangsu Province)and wrote this lyric.The King defending the Southern shore alludes to Sun Quan (Sun Zhong-mou)who defeated the Northern forces at the Red Cliff in A.D.208.

The Cowherd-King alludes to Liu Yu (reigned 420-422)who was born in Jingkou and who won great victory over the Northern invaders occupying the Central Plain.The thriving town refers to Yangzhou destroyed by the Jurchen aggressors in 1162 and the old general to the 66-year-old governor himself.

Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

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