(Minghui.org) Yue Fei, a legendary character in Chinese history, is an exemplar of loyalty for generation after generation of Chinese people. From driving off the invading Jurchens, to pulling off impossible feats on the battlefield, to defending the heartland of China—his story has been told time and time again in Chinese history books, dramas, novels, movies, and so on.
Chinese people often expressed their aspirations through poetry, and Yue was no exception. His poems in the Collection of Yue Wumu and Collection of Song Poems evinced his magnanimous character and lofty ideals.
(Continued from Part 5)
The last poem of this series embodies Yue Fei’s melancholy near the end of his life:
Xiao Chong Shan
Incessantly, the chirping of crickets rings,In the darkest of nights, summoningme back from a leagues-far dream.At midnight, I roused from slumber.
Alone, I rose and circled the steps of stone,Sensing a world asleep. The moon shone,a blur through curtain unfurled.My head of pure white contains labors untold.
The pines and bamboo on the mountains back homeMust be thick now and soaring—and yetI’ll see them not.One sudden order and my return’s blocked.
Pour my soul to a zither and pluck out each woe,I would.But who couldlisten and fathom the sound of my pain?Though I’d play ‘til the strings broke,it’d all be in vain.
The night before, crickets were chirping unceasingly in the autumn chill. When the poet woke to their cries, it was already past midnight. He paced alone by the stone stairs, slowly and repetitively. Hardly a soul was awake by this time, and outside of his window, the faint outline of the moon glowed weakly. By now, his head was completely white, but his goal of restoring the Central Plain of China was still a distant dream. Even though the pine trees and bamboo in his hometown were aging with the people he knew, he is unable to go back. And although he yearns to put his feelings into song, he knows that there are few in the world who can actually understand his plight—so even if he ends up breaking the strings, what’ll be the use?
Two years after this poem was written, the emperor issued twelve orders for Yue to recall his army. When the army retreated to the south on the emperor’s orders, the civilians stopped them on the way and came crying to Yue Fei. “The [invading] Jurchen army knew we welcomed you with incense basins above our head and helped transport your food and grass for your horses,” they said. “If you leave, the enemy will return and kill us all.”
Yue was also moved to tears. He decided to stay five extra days to give the people enough time to pack up and move south with his troops. The number of people who ended up following him was said to be as many as the crowds in a large bazaar. He made a request for the emperor to allot some land along the Han River, a tributary of the Yangtze, where these people could resettle.
When Yue Fei finally made it back to the capital, chancellor Qin Hui and other officials accused him of a variety of crimes, not one of which was legitimate. One official, He Zhu, was tasked with torturing the general. He removed Yue Fei’s shirt only to see the tattoo on his back of four large characters that read, “Stay loyal to your country.” He Zhu then knew that Yue Fei was innocent and refused to collude with Qin Hui. Qin Hui was once asked about the specific crimes that Yue Fei had committed. His response? “It’s unclear now, but there could be evidence.”
Although Yue was framed and executed unjustly, his legacy of loyalty and kindness have inspired generation after generation of Chinese people. His insights on spirituality also gave us an interesting perspective on humanity’s connection to the divine, along with a message of holding onto goodness so that we can return to our purest selves—despite the tumult of the mortal world.
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