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Xin Qiji — A Heroic Knight, Great Poet, and Sincere Patriot of the Song Dynasty

Xin Qiji (1140 — 1207), courtesy name You'an, was a heroic general and a sincere patriot of the Song Dynasty, but he never got a chance to realize his dream. 


Hence, he wrote unfulfilled ambitions into exceptional poems highly appreciated in Chinese literature.  

Xin Qiji the Great General and Poet of the Song Dynasty in History of China

Brave General in the Uprising Army

After his father passed away at a young age, Xin Qiji was raised by his grandfather, who taught him how the Jurchen Jin invaded the Song Empire and occupied their land. 

When he was 21, the Jurchen Jin Empire invaded the Song Empire again, so Xin Qiji organized a troop of thousands of people and led them to join a big uprising army.  

Months later, as the representative of the uprising army, Xin Qiji was sent to negotiate with Song's emperor about how they ally and fight against Jin.

Flower Shaped Jade Decorations of the Jurchen Jin Dynasty

Flower Shaped Jade Decorations of the Jurchen Jin Dynasty — Capital Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

However, when he was in the Song Empire, the chief commander of the uprising army was assassinated by a traitor. 

Xin Qiji then led about 50 cavalrymen, rushed into Jin's military fort with around 50,000 soldiers, and successfully took the traitor back to the Song Empire.

His braveness and exceptional military skills impressed everyone, and Xin Qiji was assigned a political occupation. 

Frustrated Life of Xin Qiji and His Remarkable Poems


At that time, Song's emperor Zhao Shen was ambitious but restrained by his adoptive father and powerful doves in the government.


After a failed war, they forced the emperor to sign a treaty with Jurchen Jin and stop any wars.

Hence, Xin Qiji never had the chance to be a general again.

He did an excellent job as a governor and brought people peaceful and wealthy lives.


Meanwhile, he even recruited and trained a big army, which those powerful dove ministers then criticized.

Therefore, his new army was dismissed. He was reassigned and demoted several times until he was a total civilian because of his political ideas and strong will to fight back.  

During that period, Xin Qiji had to pack up his sword disappointedly; instead, he picked up pens and wrote many essays regarding fighting and taking back the lost lands in northern China, but the ruling class never appreciated him.

Xin Qiji's Calligraphy Work "Qu Guo Tie"

Xin Qiji's Calligraphy Work "Qu Guo Tie" — Palace Museum

Xin Qiji's sadness and disappointment marked the second part of his life with unfulfillment and hopelessness; however, it also birthed a great poet in Chinese literature.

He wrote hundreds of Ci (another type of Chinese Poetry) to show his love for his country and people.

Most of his Ci works were ambitious, brave, and imbued with a sense of manliness, delving into themes of the army, military, battlefield, homeland, and personal integrity.

Moreover, people could glimpse the real military life of the Song Dynasty through his masterpieces; during that time, only General Yue Fei’s Ci works matched his in heroism.

Unearthed Glass Crossguard (Jian Ge) of the Song Dynasty

Glass Crossguard (Jian Ge) of the Song Dynasty — Nanjing Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

The Unfulfilled Dreams of Sincere Patriot Xin Qiji

When Xin Qiji was 63, the Song Empire once more planned to march north and reclaim the lost lands.

He was excited about being summoned back and nominated for important positions.

But later, he found that the army was led by an incapable chief commander, who used Xin's intimidating reputation but never listened to his suggestions. 

That north expedition, therefore, ended with failure.

Xin Qiji was very upset and disappointed because he was already old, and his hope of seeing a unified country was fading.

Finally, four years later, the Song Empire planned another expedition and nominated Xin Qiji as an essential general, but he was already very sick in bed. 

He couldn't grasp the opportunity he had been waiting for his entire life.

Brave General on Battlefield of the Song Dynasty

One month later, Xin Qiji departed from this world, his last words echoing 'perish those enemies'—a dream he had longed for his entire life but could never fulfill.

The most glorious and vigorous period of Xin Qiji's life was during his time in the uprising army: young, ambitious, and fearless, he could single-handedly confront traitors amidst tens of thousands of enemies.

He was a sincere patriot who desired a unified country but never had an excellent chance to realize his dream.

Consequently, he had to express his complicated feelings in his literary masterpieces.

With all the sad history was gone, however, his over 600 exceptional Ci works and calligraphy pieces have been passed on for centuries.

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