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To the Tune of "Jade Wine Cup" 1

Xin, Qi-ji 2 (1140-1207 CE)

This evening the eastern wind blew open the flowers on a thousand trees 3
And then blew down rain-like fireworks from the sky.
After magnificent horses and engraved carriages passed,
The road was filled with lingering fragrance.
As the phoenix flute 4 played
And the bright moon rose and fell,
The fish and dragon lanterns danced all night.

I spotted a girl whose hair was adorned with a moth hairpin,
Pearl blossoms, and a golden tassel.
Her delicate talk and gracious laughter
Faded away along with her subtle fragrance.
I tried to search for her among crowds hundreds of times 5.
Suddenly turning back,
I found her standing where lantern lights were few and dim 6.

Notes

1 This poem celebrates the Lantern Festival which occurs on the full moon, the 15th day, of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar. On this evening people light lanterns (the video file, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFzO7a8lpBM&feature=related, shows what Chinese lanterns looked like during the Song dynasty and how people were dressed during the Lantern Festival), watch parades, answer riddles, and eat stuffed dumplings served in soup to celebrate the festival. The first of the following websites provides a music score for this poem. The last two video files have the same title, "Jade Wine Cup":
http://www.sooopu.com/html/85/85473.html
http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XODQwNzc0MDQ=.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLylhDvvThU
    The first stanza describes the bustle and excitement during the Lantern Festival. The second stanza describes an outstanding woman indifferent to vanity. This poem implies that the officials in the emperor's court sought sensual pleasure while Qi-ji Xin was indifferent to vanity and unwilling to associate with the corrupt officials.

2 Qi-ji Xin was a native of Li-cheng City (present day Ji-nan City in Shandong Province), which was south of the Ji River. Tan-fu, You-an and Jia-xuan were his other first names. When he was born, Shandong Province was occupied by the Kingdom of Jin. In 1161, Liang Wan-yan (1122-1161), Emperor Fei-di of the Kingdom of Jin, led a large force of troops south to attack the Kingdom of Southern Song. The emperor was killed by one of his generals. Qi-ji Xin and Jing Geng took this opportunity to organize a volunteer force of 2,000 to fight against the tyranny of Jin. When General Jing Geng gathered loyal troops in Shandong Province, Qi-ji was his secretary. He advised Geng to attack south in order to unify China. In 1162, Geng ordered Qi-ji to go to Lin-an City, the capital of the Kingdom of Southern Song, and join the kingdom. Emperor Gao-zong summoned him to his court and offered him a position as Minister of Logistics. When he returned from his mission, he found Jing Geng had been killed by An-guo Zhang. Consequently, Qi-ji Xin led fifty people to attack Zhang's camp and captured Zhang. Then he sent Zhang to the emperor's court to be executed. His bravery and resolution shocked the entire nation. The emperor had a strong will to restore the glory of the Song dynasty. He appointed Yun-wen Yu as his prime minister. Qi-ji’s honorable military strategy was not welcomed by the prime minister, so the former was demoted to Mayor of Chu-zhou City. Qi-ji, frank and straightforward, upheld integrity and promoted talented people. He once said, "One should be industrious. It is especially important to work in the fields. People in Northern China eat food produced from their own farms. Therefore, there is no gap between the rich and the poor. In contrast, people in Southern China disdain manual labor. This leads to a problem: the wealthy take advantage of the labor of the poor. The rich become richer and the poor become poorer." Consequently, he called his study in his home “Farming Study”. Qi-ji Xin and Xi Zhu learned Li-xue (a school of Chinese philosophy that studies the principles in nature) from each other by exchanging views. Thus, Xin's heroic and vigorous poems were also influenced by Zhu's philosophy. Xin's meaningful lines often carry a philosophical tone and have a lingering appeal. The following poem entitled "Enlightenment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdcKARaoS7Y&feature=related)" and written by Qi-ji Xin is an example:
To the Tune of "An Ugly Servant"
Prologue. I inscribed this poem on the mountain side along a path on Bo-shan Mountain.
"When I was young,/ I did not know what sorrow is./ I loved to ascend a tower to see far./ I loved to ascend a tower to see far./ In order to write poems,/ I forced myself to write lines which seemed to convey that I had been sorrowful.// Now I have experienced all kinds of hardship./ I wish to speak but, upon reflection, do not./ I wish to speak but, upon reflection, do not./ I end up remarking upon the cool and nice Autumn."

3 "The flowers" refers to the lanterns and "a thousand trees" refers to a thousand people who carried the lanterns.

4 Phoenix City or Red Phoenix City symbolizes the capital of China. There is an old legend that during the Warring States Period the daughter of King Mu-gong of the State of Qin played the flute and attracted a phoenix to land at the former capital city, Xian-yang City.

5 Baidu, the name of the most popular Chinese search engine, was derived from this line, "search for ¼ hundreds of times". "Baidu" literally means "hundreds of times". The company adopted this name because they wanted to encourage people to use their search engine as frequently as possible.

6 Guo-wei Wang (1877-1927) said, "A great scholar goes through three stages. This is the last stage: When relaxing after intense study, one becomes most open to discovery." In other words, an acquisition by chance is often one's best accomplishment.