Eight Beats of Ganzhou Song
· On Reading General Li Guang’s Biography
The Flying General was famed for his force.
When drunk, he came back at night,
At Long Pavilion unsaddled his horse.
But the officer drunk knew not the hero bright,
So the general stood without speech
Like plum or peach.
His galloping steed
Crossed the mountain in speed,
Taking a rock for a tiger, he twanged his string tight
And pierced the stone.
Not ennobled late in years, unknown,
He lived in countryside, alone.
Who would live in the fields with wine,
In short coat or on a horse fine,
And move to the foot of the southern hill?
Valiant and fervent still,
I’d pass in laughter the rest of my years.
On the thousand-mile-long frontiers,
How many generals won a name!
But the strongest was not ennobled with his fame.
Out of my window screen the slanting breeze
And drizzling rain would freeze.
The poet deposed for his proposal to recover the lost land thinks of Flying General Li Guang of the first century BC, who was not ennobled after many victories he had won.
“Eight Beats of Ganzhou Song · On Reading General Li Guang’s Biography” is a work by Xin Qiji, a famous lyricist of the Southern Song Dynasty. The first section of the poem is a brief description of Li Guang’s deeds, while the second section is devoted to the author’s own emotions. The lyricist uses the story of Li Guang to complain about his own injustice of losing his job for no reason and being idle at home, expressing his dissatisfaction with the faction in power for overturning his loyalty, and at the same time expressing his own will to stay strong despite the blow, a typical piece of writing that makes use of the wine cups of the ancients to pour out the blocks in his chest. The whole lyric combines historical allusions, previous poems and one’s own emotions into one, distinctly reflecting the characteristic of Xin’s skill in using allusions.