Wu Jiaji (吳嘉紀, 오가기, 1618-1684) was a late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty poet. He was born in Taizhou (泰州, 태주), Jiangsu Province (江蘇省, 강소성); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Binxian (賓賢, 빈현); and his pen name (號, 호) was Yeren (野人, 야인). Wu Jiaji was from an impoverished background, and had very little to eat even during bumper years. Although he worked as a laborer, he enjoyed reading and composing poetry. When the Manchus invaded China, he joined the Ming loyalist forces fight against the Qing. During this time, he witnessed many atrocities committed by the pillaging Manchu army. After Ming loyalist forces capitulated, he decided to retire to his home village where he continued to live in solitude and in abject poverty. He wrote several poems, many of which portray in vivid detail the brutalities of the Manchu army. In his composition below, he describes one story from the Yangzhou massacre (揚州大虐殺, 양주대학살), which took place in 1645 after the city’s capitulation. His poems can be found in the Louxuan Poetry Collection (陋軒詩集, 누헌시집). Please do note that the following poem may be a bit gory.
The Li Family’s Daughter-in-Law
乙酉夏, 兵陷郡城, 李氏婦被掠.
을유하, 병함군성, 리씨부피략.
In the summer of the Yiyou year (乙酉, 을유) (1645), [Manchu] soldiers took control of Juncheng (郡城, 군성) and the Mr. Li’s wife was captured.
- 郡城(군성) – Refers to Yangzhou (揚州, 양주).
掠者百計求近, 不屈. 越七日夜, 聞其夫歿, 婦哀號撞壁, 顱碎腦出而死.
략자백계구근, 불굴. 월칠일야, 문기부몰, 부애호동벽, 로쇄뇌출이사.
The pillagers attempted a hundred times demanding her to come near, but she did not yield. When the seventh day’s night had passed, she heard that her husband had perished. The wife sorrowfully cried, striking [her head] into the wall. Her cranium broke and her brain poured out, leading to her death.
時掠者他出, 歸乃怒裂婦尸, 剖腹取心肺示人. 見者莫不驚悼, 感稱李家娘云.
시략자타출, 귀내노렬부시, 배복취심폐시인. 견자막불경도, 감칭리가낭운.
At that time, the pillagers were outside elsewhere and when they returned angrily cut up the wife’s corpse. They sliced her stomach, took her heart and lungs, and showed it to the others. Among those who saw, no one could not but be in shock and mourn. It is said that all praised the daughter-in-law of the Li family.
Inside the fortress, the mountain is white with the bones of the dead;
Outside the fortress, the waters are red with the blood of the dead.
The murdered number one million and four hundred thousand.
Within the new fortress and the old fortress, how many men are alive?
Just as the wife faces the mirror,
Her husband’s head has already fallen.
With the bloody sword having entered its sheath,
The red faced woman is pulled and taken away.
The west house’s miss,
The east house’s wife,
And the Li family’s daughter-in-law,
Altogether have fallen into the hands of the aggressive and raven.
笳吹 團團日低 歸擁曼睩蛾眉
가취 단단일저 귀옹만록아미
Pulling and dragging her with their hands,
They speak bar-bar-bar.
Amid the blowing of the reed pipe,
As the round and circular sun sets,
They return and bring all the women with round eyes and silkworm-like brows.
Only the Li family’s daughter-in-law,
Was not interred within the arched tent’s depository.
- 兜離(두리) – Describes unintelligible speech. Here, more specifically refers to Manchu.
- 曼睩(만록) – Literally, “large round eyes.” Refers to a beautiful woman.
- 蛾眉(아미) – Literally, “silkworm-like eyebrows.” Refers also to a beautiful woman.
- 穹廬(궁려) – Literally, “arched tent.” Refers to a yurt.
Why do you not have a sharp sword
To lacerate the skins of others?
Turning around anger for bliss,
The mind ponders about those pretty women.
Those pretty women number very many,
But their countenances are not like hers.
豈是貪生 夫子昨分散 未知存與亡
기시탐생 부자작분산 미지존여망
女伴何好 發澤衣香 甘言來勸李家娘
녀반하호 발택의향 감언래권리가낭
Why do you covet life?
The husband, yesterday, scattered and dispersed.
It is not known whether whether he still exists or has perished.
To be a woman’s partner, how good is it?
Emitting grace and wearing fragrance,
With sweet words, she comes to coax the Li family’s daughter-in-law.
The Li family’s daughter-in-law,
Her entrails fallen and pulled out,
Lashed, beaten, struck, and mutilated,
As if a gem had been made into ash,
Sorrowfully worries about tying her clothes’ belt.
Tied thousand times, tied ten-thousand times, it does not come undone.
夜深起望 不見故夫子 唯聞馬嘶悲風
야심기망 불견고부자 유문마사비풍
The Li family’s daughter-in-law,
Sits among the soldiers.
Though the night grows deep, she stands gazing,
But does not see her deceased husband,
And instead only hears the horses sighing in the melancholy wind.
She again gazes at the moon upon Han’gou (邗溝, 한구);
The pure luster drifts and roams, illuminating the heart and mind.
- 邗溝(한구) – The name of the canal from Yangzhou to Huai’an (淮安, 회안) that flows into the Huai River (淮水, 회수).
殊似舅聲 云我故夫子 身沒亂刀兵
수사구성 운아고부자 신몰란도병
An order to stop the killing of the remaining living was made.
Outside the fortalice, people came.
A voice uniquely similar to an uncle-in-law,
Said, “O her deceased husband,
His body succumbed to the mayhem of the soldiers’ swords.”
In grief, she fell down, and facing the ground,
She sadly bewailed to the blue autumn skies.
With the husband already dead,
For what will the wife again hope?
Her skull and brains were given to the wall;
Her heart and innards were given to the enemy.
They did not hesitate in slicing her stomach and cutting off her head.
Those who were forced to watch were quivering and trembling as if they were lambs or oxen.
- 觳觫若羊牛(곡속약양우) – Literally, “quivering and trembling like lambs or oxen.” Refers to lambs or oxen taken to the slaughterhouse.
Like lambs and like oxen, who were these people?
If the west house’s wife,
And the east house’s miss,
In the coming days, gather at the military camp and leave north,
They will be briskly and hurriedly taken away in agony and torment.
Wild geese and swans fly above in the sky;
But the group of rabbits cannot flee from the earth.
The knoll in the village reminisce about the Li family’s daughter-in-law.
On the backs of camels, their cries will be like the rain.
- Music bureau style poetry (樂府, 악부). These types of poems were originally meant to be song — hence, the stanzas — and have a set tonal meter.