After Yue Fei
“A gentleman does not part with his qin1 without good reason.” – The Book of Rites
The air was ice, but crickets kept on chirping through the cold.
They woke me from one thousand li2 of dreams—
I saw the third watch moon.
Shivering, I stepped out to pace the silent courtyard, alone—
I could not see a soul.
The moon outside my curtains shone like silver—
“Silver is the mark of honor,” I thought.
Experience, ancient hills, old pines, bamboo—
These block my journey home.
I wish I could express my worries on the guqin, dear…
But these days my friends are few,
So who would listen to my broken strings?
Chinese folk hero Yue Fei (AD 1103-1142) was a warrior poet — a master and founder of multiple martial arts, a studied Taoist, a great military strategist, a successful Song Dynasty general in the Jin-Song Wars, and a literary writer. Yue Fei fought a long campaign against the Jin Dynasty to recapture northern Song territory, but just before he retook the original Song Dynasty capital, his Emperor called him back for a peace treaty. In the name of preventing civil war and to avoid exile, Yue Fei returned to the new Song capital of Hangzhou, where the Emperor imprisoned and executed him on false charges. Amidst these troubles, Yue Fei wrote some of the Song Dynasty’s most memorable poems, including “Between the Hillocks” (“Siu Chong Shan”) and “Full River Red” (“Man Jiang Hong”) which is still beloved throughout China today.