Huang Zongxi – Mourning Cangshui

Huang Zongxi (黃宗羲, 황종희, 1610-1695) was a Neo-Confucian scholar of the Yangming School (陽明學, 양명학). He was born in Nanlei Village (南雷里, 남뢰리), Yuyao County (餘姚縣, 여요현), Zhejiang Province (浙江省, 절강성); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Taichong (太沖, 태충); and his pen names (號, 호) were Nanlei (南雷, 남뢰) and Master of Lizhou (梨洲先生, 이주선생). His father was Huang Zunsu (黃尊素, 황존수, 1585-1626), a famous literati bureaucrat of the Donglin Movement (東林黨, 동림당). In 1625, when Huang Zongxi was 17, all the members of the Donglin Movement were rounded up because of factional disputes, and his father was executed in prison the next year. Following his father’s will, Huang Zongxi studied under Yangming School Neo-Confucian scholar Liu Zongzhou (劉宗周, 유종주, 1578-1645). In 1630, he moved to Nanjing (南京, 남경) and participated in various scholarly associations. From 1630 to 1643, he took the civil examination (科擧, 과거) several times, but failed every try. When the Ming dynasty collapsed in 1644, he joined anti-Qing loyalist forces, and was almost killed on numerous occasions. At the age of 40 in 1649, he decided to retire and live in solitude. Thereafter, he devoted himself to studies, founded a school to teach students, and wrote many works. Huang Zongxi’s most important work is Waiting for the Dawn (明夷待訪錄, 명이대방록), in which he advocated for various political reforms famously stating, “Under heaven, [the people] are the master; the king is a guest” (天下爲主, 君爲客 – 천하위주 군위객). Due to this work, Huang Zongxi is compared to the famous French philosopher Rousseau. Another of his important works was the Scholarly Survey of Ming Dynasty Confucians (明儒學案, 명유학안), which summarizes the various schools of Confucian thought during the Ming dynasty with a focus on the Yangming School. He also wrote a similar survey for Song and Yuan dynasty Confucians (宋元學案, 송원학안), but was unable to complete the work before his death. In Korea, his surveys inspired the compilation of the Scholarly Survey of Eastern Confucians (東儒學案, 동유학안), published in 1970 by a student of the late Confucian scholar Ha Gyeomjin (河謙鎭, 하겸진, 1870-1946). Even after retiring, Huang Zongxi did not forget about his time assisting anti-Qing Ming loyalists, and derided the Qing dynasty as a “fake dynasty” (僞朝, 위조) and its emperors as “barbaric kings” (虜主, 노왕). In the poem below, he mourns after one of the resistance leader’s deaths.

哀蒼水 애창수

Mourning Changshui

廿年苦節何人似 입년고절하인사
得此全歸亦稱情 득차전귀역칭정
廢寺醵錢收棄骨 폐사갹전수기골
老生禿筆記琴聲 로생독필기금성
遙空摩影狂相得 요공마영광상득
群水穿礁浩未平 군수천초호미평
兩世雪交私不得 량세설교사불득
只隨衆口一閒評 지수중구일한평

For twenty years, he bitterly maintained loyalty. What other man will be like him?
He has obtained this perfect return; it also befits his passion.
At a dilapidated temple, I chip in money to collect thrown away bones;
This old living being and his stumpy brush record the zither’s tunes.
The distant emptiness rubs against the shadows, crazily in mutual harmony;
The clumped waters pierce the sunken rocks, greatly in discontent.
For two generations, this snow-white friendship was not at all private.
Only following the mouths of the multitude, there is one fair critique.


Twenty • years • bitter • fidelity • what • person • to be similar
To obtain • this • entire • return • also • to be aligned • sentiment
Ruined • Buddhist temple • to raise money • money • to gather • to throw away • bones
Old • lives • stumpy • brush • to record • zither • sound
Far away • empty • to brush against • shadow • crazy • mutual • to obtain
Group • water • to pierce • sunken rocks • widely • not yet • peaceful
Two • generations • snow-white • friendship • private • not • to obtain
Only • to follow • multitude • mouth • one • fair • criticism


  • Heptasyllabic regulated poem (七言律詩, 칠언율시). A not too common form of heptasyllabic regulated poetry, where the first line does not end in a rhyme. The riming character (韻, 운) is 庚(경).
  • 蒼水(창수) – Refers to General Zhang Huangyan’s (張煌言, 장황언, 1620-1664) pen name (號, 호). After Nanjing fell to the Manchus, he took up base in the Zhoushan Islands (舟山群島, 주산군도) and Shaoxing (紹興, 소흥). He coordinated attacks with Koxinga (國姓爺, 국성야, 1624-1662), and fought against the Qing for nineteen years. After Koxinga’s death, he attempted to retire and live incognito in solitude, but was ratted out and caught. Zhang Huangyan was executed in Hangzhou (杭州, 항주). Huang Zongxi presumably wrote the poem sometime after the General’s death.
  • 全歸(전귀) – Literally, “complete return.” Refers to the General’s maintenance of loyalty.
  • 老生(노생) – Reference to self in the third person. Used when referencing oneself that is at an old age to a superior.
  • 相得(상득) – Literally, “to obtain one another.” Refers to being in mutual harmony.

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