Xin Qiji — A Heroic Knight, A Great Poet, and A 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 never got a chance to realize his dream. 

 

Hence, his unfulfilled ambition turned into exceptional poems, which were highly appreciated in Chinese culture. 

Brave General Xin Qiji 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, then 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 — 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 that had around 50,000 soldiers, successfully took the traitor back to the Song Empire.

Everyone was impressed by his braveness and exceptional military skills, then Xin Qiji was assigned a political occupation. 

Frustrated Life and Remarkable Poems of Xin Qiji

 

At that time, Song's emperor Zhao Shen was ambitious, but had been 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 to stop any wars.

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

Xin Qiji did well as a governor, who gave his civilians peaceful and wealthy lives. He even recruited and trained a big army, which was then criticized by those powerful dove ministers.

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 disappointedly pack up his sword; instead, he picked up pens and had written lots of 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" — Palace Museum

Xin Qiji’s sadness and disappointments made the second part of his life feeling unfulfilled and hopeless, however, also brought to Chinese culture a great poet. 

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

Most of his Ci works were ambitious and brave and full of manliness, which in respect to the army, military, battlefield, homeland, and personal integrity.

Moreover, people could see real military lives of the Song Dynasty from his masterpieces; only General Yue Fei’s Ci works were as heroic as his.

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

Unfulfilled Dream of Sincere Patriot Xin Qiji

When Xin Qiji was 63 years old, the Song Empire again planned to march north and to take the lost lands back.

He was very excited about being summoned back and nominated in some important positions.

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

That north expedition, therefore, ended with failure.

Xin Qiji was very sad 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 important general, but he was already sick in bed. 

He couldn’t grasp this opportunity that he had been waiting for his entire life.

One month later, Xin Qiji left the world, and his last words were “perish those enemies”, the dream that he had been longing for in his entire life, but would never be able to complete. 

The most glorious and vigorous time of Xin Qiji was when he was in the uprising army, being young and ambitious, who could remove a traitor away from tens of thousands of enemies, fearlessly.

He was a sincere patriot who desired a unified country, but he never had a good chance to realize his dream.

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

After all the sad histories were gone, his over 600 exceptional Ci works and calligraphy pieces have been passed on for millenniums in the history of China.

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