Xin Qiji

Xin Qiji (28 May 1140 – 3 Oct 1207) was a Chinese poet and military leader during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279).

The statue of Xin Qiji, located in Changsha, Hunan, China.
Xin Qiji
Traditional Chinese辛棄疾
Simplified Chinese辛弃疾
(courtesy name)
(art name)
Traditional Chinese稼軒
Simplified Chinese稼轩


During Xin's lifetime, northern China was occupied during the Jin–Song Wars by the Jurchens of the Jin dynasty, a semi-nomadic people who moved to what is now north-east China. Only southern China was ruled by the Han Chinese Southern Song dynasty. Xin was born in the modern city of Jinan in Shandong Province, then governed by the Jin Dynasty. Xin was raised by his grandfather because of Xin's father's early dearth. In his childhood, his grandfather told him about the time when the Han Chinese ruled the north and told him to be an honorable man and seek revenge against the barbarian for the nation. It was then when he developed his patriotic feelings. At the ages of 14 and 17, Xin attended the imperial examination twice, but failed both of them. However, on Xin's way to Jin's capital for examinations, he followed his grandfather's instruction to inspect the military and geographic situation in Jin dynasty.[1] His grandfather named him after a legendary military commander from the Western Han, Huo Qubing. Both "Qubing" and "Qiji" mean to deliver oneself from diseases.[2]

Xin started his military career at the age of twenty-two. He commanded an insurrection group of fifty men and fought the Jurchen alongside Geng Jing's much larger army that consisted of tens of thousands of men. Although they had some small-scale victories, in 1161, because the Jurchen were becoming more united internally, Xin persuaded Geng Jing to join forces with the Southern Song army in order to fight the Jurchen more effectively. Geng Jing agreed but just as Xin finished a meeting with the Southern Song Emperor, who endorsed Geng Jing's troops, Xin learned that Geng Jing had been assassinated by their former friend-turned-traitor, Zhang Anguo (张安国/張安國). With merely fifty men, Xin fought his way through the Jurchen camp and captured Zhang Anguo. Xin then led his men safely back across the border and had Zhang Anguo decapitated by the emperor.[3]

Jiaxuan Ancestral Hall at Daming Lake, Jinan, Shandong, China.

Xin's victory gained him a place in the Southern Song court. However, because the emperor was surrounded by people who supported "an appeasement policy"[4] rather than open warfare with the Jin, Xin was sidelined. From 1161 to 1181, he held a series of minor posts that never amounted to anything momentous. Although during the same period, he tried to offer the emperor his treatises on how to manage the invasions by the Jin as well as other state affairs, he was never taken seriously. Finally he resolved to do things on his own. He improved the irrigation systems in his district, relocated poverty-struck peasants and trained his own troops. His ambition soon aroused suspicion against him. In 1181, he was forced to resign. He left for Jiangxi where he then stayed and perfected his famous ci form of poetry for ten depressing years.[5]

In 1192, Xin was recalled to the Song court to take up another minor post because the previous incumbent had died. This job did not last long because once he completed the requirements of his job, he started training men for military purposes again. He was soon discharged.[6]

From 1192 to 1203, Xin lived in seclusion around Jiangxi Province. Xin gave himself an art name - "Jiaxuan" (稼轩), which meant "Life should be diligent and take farming as the prime importance".

In 1188, Xin met another patriotic poet, Chen Liang, in E hu Temple (around Piao Spring, Jiangxi Province). They conferred the strategy to fight against Jin dynasty and revive their home country.

During Xin's seclusion, Xin also traveled with Zhu Xi, the master of Neo Confucianism, in Wuyi Mountain. In 1200, upon Zhu xi's death, none of Zhu's old friends or students mourned him because of the political restriction. However, Xin attended the funeral and wrote lament for Zhu.[7][circular reference]

In 1203, as the Jin began pressing harder against the Southern Song border, Han Tuozhou, the consul of the Southern Song court, in need of militarists, took Xin under his wing. However, Han Tuozhou disregarded Xin's sincere advice for effective military moves, and he removed Xin from his team the next year, accusing Xin of being lubricious, avaricious, and many other non-existent faults. The crucial moment came in 1207 when the Jin defiantly asked for Han Tuozhou's head for a peace treaty. It was then that Han realized that he needed Xin again. Xin did not hesitate in responding to Han's call for help; unfortunately, he died of old age soon afterwards.[8]

In 1208, after Xin's death, Ni si impeached him for committing treason and requested the Southern Song government to deprive's Xin's official title. In 1257, Xie Fangde petitioned the Southern Song government for justifying Xin's innocence. The government then vindicated Xin and endowed him a posthumous title - "Zhong Min", which meant loyalty and encouragement.[9][circular reference]


Some six hundred and twenty of Xin's poems survive today, all were written after he moved to the south.[10]


Scholars consider Xin equally talented in ci as Su Shi. Their difference, however, is that the content of Xin's poetry spans an even greater range of topics. Xin is also famous for employing many allusions in his poems.[11]

Some of the most quoted lines from his poetry (with accompanying translations) are shown below.








Too much have I decayed!

"Alas, all my life I've seen friends and companions fall off,

And now how many of them survive?

With gray hair hanging in vain three thousand zhang long,

I laugh away all worldly things.

Is there anything left, you ask, that might cheer me?

I see in green mountains such charm allure,

I expect they see the same in me,

For in heart and in appearance

We are a bit similar.

Goblet in hand, scratching my head at the east window,

I presume that Tao Yuanming, having finished his poem

Hovering Clouds,

Was in the same mood I am now.

Those on the south side of the Yangtze who play drunkard

in pursuit of fame,

How could they know the magic of unstrained wine?

Looking back, I'll conjure a gust of wind

and send clouds flying.

I regret not that I can't meet the ancients,

But that the ancients had no chance to see my wildness.

Those who understand me

Number only two or three."





Partridge Sky

When I was young

I waved a flag to lead a thousand soldiers

horses too

how my men

fashioned arrows

of silver at night

they brought

down the moon

now the enemy owns it

I come back

I'm nobody

now thinking of the past

how one

sighs to be neglected

Spring won't bring back the black to my bread

you can't imagine the tracts I wrote on tactics for this country

In return I'm given this poor field bent mattock

and some weather-worn to me titled 'how to grow tree'







Battled for a hundred times

Broke my body and reputation

Now stand on the imminence of departure

Look back on my grand homeland

Deceased all my old friends

The river is bleak, the wind is cold

Those who bid me farewell, are all with white coats and hats

white as snow, white as nihility

The elegy never ends

never ends its tune, never ends its nostalgia

never ends its resolve to fight

If the mockingbird knows my regret

it won't cry

it will tear with blood

After this departure

who will watch the moon along with me

in the different remote places

in the same solitary night



"But in the crowd once and again

I look for her in vain.

When all at once I turn my head,

I find her there where lantern light is dimly shed."



"少年不識愁滋味,愛上層樓。 愛上層樓,為賦新詞強說愁。 而今識盡愁滋味,欲說還休。 欲說還休,卻道天涼好個秋。"

The rendition by Lin Yutang (with an ABBA, CDDC rhyme scheme) is:

"In my young days,

I had tasted only gladness

But loved to mount the top floor,

But loved to mount the top floor,

To write a song pretending sadness.

And now I have tasted Sorrow’s flavours, bitter and sour,

And can’t find a word,

And can’t find a word.

But merely say, "What a golden autumn hour!”

Another rendition is:

"When young I never did know the taste of woe or sorrow,

Up to the top floor, I loved to go;

Up to the top floor, I loved to go,

For to compose new verses, I feigned my sorrow and woe.

Yet now that I've known the taste of woe, sorrow and bitterness,

I hesitate to mention it.

Hesitate to mention it,

What a beautifully chilly autumn! I say, after all."

In the last line, there is a sudden transition (leap) from Xin's personal understanding of melancholy to the season that he's experiencing. This leap probably presents itself as a formidable psychological and cultural obstacle for a non-Chinese speaker. The autumn carries many meanings in Chinese literature.

Deeper understanding of the last line is full of sadness :

The true sorrow can't be expressed by words;

or repeating the sorrow is another deep hurt;

or even you can find the words to show your bitterness, but no one understands it;

or even you can find people who understand your bitterness, but things have happened and nothing will be changed.

Same meaning was also expressed in others poems, for example, one by Fang Yue, "Life is full of disappointments, hardly any can we confide in others". 宋人方岳诗:"不如意事常八九,可与人言无二三。”(《别才子方令》

The merit of this poem is talking about melancholy in a mild and subtle way with using autumn. This is one reason people love this poem and quote it ever so often today.


Little of Xin's calligraphy has survived. Quguo tie is the only preserved one which is now documented in Beijing Palace Museum. Quguo tie was created in Xin's 36 years old (around 1175 Oct), after Xin suppressed the bandits rebellion in Jiangxi.

Quguo Tie


Hu shih says: Xin Qiji ranks first among authors in creative lyrics. Xin shows great talent, keen intellect, intensive and sincere feeling in writing lyrics.[15]

Bai shouyi says: Xin Qiji aimed his life at recovering the lost territories and contributing to his country. Unfortunately, Xin was ill-fated and repressed, failed to realize his ambitions. However, Xin never shook his patriotic resolve, and put all his enthusiasm and worries about national destiny to the creation of poetry.[16]

Deng guangming says: Although an extremely passionate patriot inherently, Xin Qiji has to pretend himself to be a detached and calm man, who is indifferent about political affairs.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wu, Shichang.; 吳世昌. (2003). Wu Shichang quan ji. Wu, Linghua., 吳令华. (Di 1 ban ed.). Shijiazhuang Shi: Hebei jiao yu chu ban she. ISBN 7-5434-4672-3. OCLC 51628671.
  2. ^ Liu Zhong Mei. 9-14
  3. ^ Liu Zhong Mei. 9-14
  4. ^ Lo.
  5. ^ Liu Zhong Mei. 9-14
  6. ^ Liu Zhong Mei. 9-14
  7. ^ "辛弃疾". Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  8. ^ Liu Zhong Mei. 9-14
  9. ^ "辛弃疾". Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  10. ^ Liu Zhong Mei. 9-14
  11. ^ Liu Zhong Mei. 9-14
  12. ^ Lian, Xinda. "The Wild and Arrogant: Expression of Self in Xin Qiji's Song Lyrics." Order No. 9542891 University of Michigan, 1995. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 29 Nov. 2019.
  13. ^ Translated by Christopher Kelen and Agnes Vong Lai leng
  14. ^ translated by Xu Yuanchong(许渊冲), XU Ming(许明)
  15. ^ Xin qi ji ci ji. Xin qi ji zhu, (1140-1207), 辛弃疾, (1140-1207). Shang hai: Shang hai gu ji chu ban she. 2010. ISBN 978-7-5325-5710-3. OCLC 707083596.CS1 maint: others (link)
  16. ^ China's general History. Shanghai People's Publishing Company. 1989.
  17. ^ Deng, Guangming.; 邓广铭. (2007). Xin Qiji zhuan ; Xin Jiaxuan nian pu (Beijing di 1 ban ed.). Beijing Shi: Sheng huo, du shu, xin zhi san lian shu dian. ISBN 978-7-108-02647-7. OCLC 132682408.

Liu, Zhongmei, Ed. Xin Qiji. Beijing: Wuzhou Chuanbo Chubenshe, 2005.

Lo, Irving Yucheng. Hsin Ch'i-chi. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1971.

Further readingEdit

  • Deng, Guangming (2007). Biography of Xin Qiji (辛弃疾传) & Chronicle of Xin Qiji's Life (辛稼轩年谱) (in Chinese). Sdx Joint Publishing Company. ISBN 978-7-108-02647-7.
  • Deng, Guangming (1993). Annotated Papers of Xin Qiji (稼轩词编年笺注) (in Chinese). Shanghai Antiquarian Press. ISBN 978-7-5325-1469-4.

External linksEdit