Fun with Song Dynasty Lyrics: "Entirely Red River"

Ren Yiren

PureInsight | February 19, 2006


Entirely Red River
By Yue Fei
My wrath bristles through my helmet, the rain stops as I stand by the rail;
I look up towards the sky and let loose a passionate roar.
At age thirty my deeds are nothing but dust, my journey has taken me over eight thousand li (an ancient Chinese measurement of distance)
So do not sit by idly, for young men will grow old in regret.
The shame of Jing Kang still lingers,
When will the pain of his subjects ever end?
Let us ride our chariots through the Helan Pass,
There we shall feast and drink barbarian flesh and blood.
Let us begin again to recover our stolen lands,
Before paying tribute to Heaven.

Note: Mr. Guan Guimin sang this poem at New Tang Dynasty Television's 2005 Global Chinese New Year Gala in New York City.

To view "Entirely Red River" in Chinese, please visit the link at the bottom of the article.







About Yue Fei (岳飛)
Yue Fei (1103 - 1141 A.D.), also known as Yue Pengju or Yue Wumu (his posthumous name), was a Chinese patriot and nationalist military leader who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the invasion of Jurchen (女真)'s Jin Dynasty. He is one of the best-known generals in Chinese history. According to legend, Yue Fei's mother tattooed four characters (精忠報國), which mean "serve the country loyally" on his back before he left home to join the army.

As a valiant and tactically astute general, Yue Fei led many successful campaigns against the forces of the Jin Dynasty. His army succeeded in recapturing Chinese territory south of the Yangtze and Huai Rivers that the Jin Dynasty had taken from China in previous battles. The enemy even said "撼山易,撼岳家軍難", meaning it was easy to push over a mountain, but difficult to push over Yue’s army. In the middle of his long victorious campaign against the Jin, just as Yue Fei was getting ready to attack the capital city of the Jin Dynasty, corrupt officials, the most famous being the traitor Qin Hui (秦檜), took bribes from the Jin Dynasty and persuaded Emperor Gaozong to recall Yue Fei to the capital. Emperor Gaozong had his own reason to bring Yue Fei back. He had gained the throne after his father and his brother Emperor Qinzong were captured by the Jin Dynasty, and didn't want Yue Fei to rescue them for fear of losing the throne. The emperor ordered Yue Fei to return twelve times in the form of twelve gold plaques before Yue Fei capitulated. After Yue Fei returned to the capital, he was immediately arrested.

Qin Hui could not find a reason to execute Yue Fei and was about to release him. However, Qin Hui's wife Madam Wang made the suggestion that since the emperor held absolute power, Qin Hui having the authority of the emperor and needed no reason to execute Yue Fei. Yue Fei and his son, Yue Yun, were sentenced to death and executed on a charge "no reason needed" (莫須有, literarily meaning no need).

Today, Yue Fei is revered as one of the great symbols of Chinese patriotism and a national hero in China. His mausoleum in Hangzhou is well-visited. There are also two heavily mutilated statues of Qin Hui and his wife, topless, kneeling outside the temple as if begging for mercy. People in the past used to spit upon and kick them (now the statues are considered antiques and roped off for preservation).

Yue Fei's literary creations were compiled in The Collection of Yue Wumu. Three of his Song Dynasty Lyrics survive to this day.

About this poem

"Entirely Red River" is well-read and is known throughout China and Chinese people around the world. For thousands of years, this timeless poem continues to bring out the patriotic souls in the Chinese people. Each time China is in turmoil and danger, this poem provides a great morale boost as people rush to defend the nation. "The Shame of Jing Kang" refers to the shame of the capture of Kaifeng (Northern Song Dynasty's capital city) and the abduction of Grand-Emperor Huizong and Emperor Qinzong. "Barbarian" refers to invading northern tribes in general, but it refers to the Jurchen here. The Chinese emperor is traditionally regarded "the Son of Heaven." "Paying tribute to Heaven" means returning to the capital city to pay respect to the emperor.

The Author's Interpretation

Yue Fei's patriotism, integrity and undying loyalty is apparent throughout the entire poem. His ambition to restore the stolen lands is extremely motivating and exciting to the readers. This poem is extremely revered and influential in the Chinese history of Song Dynasty Lyrics, as well as in the Chinese history of poetry in general.

Those who were fully devoted to their nations and people are forever remembered by their fellow countrymen. On the other hand, those traitors who sabotaged their own countries for their own interest and killed loyal patriotic heroes are forever condemned by history.

In 2003, a high-level leader of the Chinese Communist Party ordered the removal of Yue Fei from Chinese textbooks and that the people stop revering him as a national hero! This incredible scandal is truly the embodiment of the Chinese saying: "A depraved society breeds depraved men!" Could it be that a reincarnated Qin Hui is selling out China again and secretly trading the land of China to Russia? Could it be that this character is afraid that the patriotic Chinese people might place his statue outside Yue Fei's mausoleum for people to spit on and kick if he didn't un-educate the Chinese people about patriotism? Heaven is always watching and so are the Chinese people. When a man betrays his country and his people, the only fate awaiting him is ever-lasting condemnation!

Translated from:

Add new comment