Nostalgia at Bei-gu Pavilion in Jing-kou 1

Xin, Qi-ji (1140 A.D.-1207 A.D.)

    Facing the ancient mountain and river, I cannot find where Zhong-mo Sun 2 accomplished his heroic feat. Romantic halls for singing and dancing are always weathered by wind and rain. People say that the ordinary alley with the ancient trees and slanting sunshine was where Ji-nu 3 once lived. I imagine him riding an armored horse and brandishing a lance in those distant years. His majestic appearance could tremble a hundred miles like a tiger. Emperor Wen 4 was credulous and reckless. After listening to Xuan-mo Wang's military strategy, the emperor made him a duke and ordered him to attack the enemy in the north. His troops were completely defeated and returned panic struck. It has been forty-three years since I surrendered to the Southern Song dynasty. I still remember that the lights were well-illuminated when I passed Yang City. I do not have the heart to think of Great Emperor Tai-wu when I see that only wild ravens and drums remain in his shrine 5. Po Lian was old. Who was going to ask him if he still had a good appetite 6?

1 This poem was written in 1203 A.D. while Xin garrisoned Jing-kou (present day Zhen-Jiang City), the port of the Grand Canal on the Yangtze River.

2 Zhong-mo Sun was the founding king of the Kingdom of Wu during the Three Kingdom Period. Chuan was his other first name. He reined over his kingdom from 182 A.D. to 252 A.D.

3 Ji-nu was the other first name of Yu Liu, the founding emperor of the Liu-song dynasty. The Liu-song dynasty (420 A.D. - 479 A.D.) is different from the Northern Song dynasty (960 A.D.-1127 A.D.) or the Southern Song dynasty (1127 A.D.-1280 A.D.). Xin insinuates that Xuan-mo Wang's reckless attack in the Liu-song dynasty was similar to Tuo-zhou Hanís attack during Xinís time (the Southern Song dynasty). Hanís defeat (1164 A.D.) caused the Kingdom of Jin to mount a large-scale invasion and capture the area south of the Huai River.

4 Emperor Wen was the son of Yu Liu, Emperor Wu of the Liu-song dynasty.

5 In 450 A.D., Xuan-mo Wang attacked the Northern Wei dynasty. His troops were completely defeated. His attack caused Emperor Tai-wu to invade south up to Gua-bu City, across the Yangtze River from Jing-kou. Therefore, Emperor Tai-wu of the Northern Wei dynasty was also a great hero during the Northern and Southern dynasties.

6 Po Lian was originally a general of the State of Zhao. After he retired, he lived in the State of Wei. Later, the King of Zhao intended to appoint Lian again and the latter also wanted to rejoin the work force. Consequently, the King of Zhao sent a messenger to Wei to check if Lian's health fit the job. After the messenger arrived, Lian showed him that he was worthy by eating four pounds of rice and ten pounds of meat, and then jumping on a horse while wearing armor. See "The Biography of Po Lian and Xiang-ru Lin", Chinese History. Here Xin is comparing himself to Po Lian. Thus, the last sentence of Xinís poem means "Who was going to send me to the war front to fight against the enemy?" In 1164 A.D., if the government had trusted him and sent him instead of Tuo-zhou Han to attack the enemy, it might have won the war.