On this day in 1140 the Chinese poet, statesman and military leader Xin Qiji was born.
His life seems to have been one of service to the Han emperors through fighting to rid the North of China from the Jin rulers, a nomadic people regarded as barbarians. Though a successful leader, Xin Qiji was not appreciated enough by the emperors until he was too old to be of use. His poetry is a mixture of beautiful imagery and wistfulness:
I wrote this for fun when drunk.
A thousand hands held high to heaven
Swept along with a torrent of shouts
A gold seal hanging from my belt
Big as a ladle
Our riders came in swarms with bows and swords
I commanded them to quickly cover front and rear
We tried all kinds of subterfuge
Like children fighting in the grass
Determined to prevail futility!
Forget the furrow in my brow
With hair turned white
It’s useless to look back
Idle now, I pass the time of day
With mountain friends
See those sheep and cattle on the hillside,
Who could sort the smart from stupid?
I’ve taken to tending plants and willows
Tell them I’m drunk this morning
Today I ask that I will do my best, not so as to please others but so as to give myself respect