Wu Jiaji – Li Family’s Daughter-in-Law

Louxuan Poetry Collection

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 (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. 

李家娘 이가낭

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.

城中山白死人骨 城外水赤死人血
성중산백사인골 성외수적사인혈
殺人一百四十萬 新城舊城內有幾人活
살인일백사십만 신성구성내유기인활
一解
일해

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?
First stanza.

妻方對鏡 夫已墮首
처방대경 부이타수
腥刀入鞘 紅顏隨走
성도입초 홍안수주
西家女 東家婦
서가녀 동가부
如花李家娘 亦落强梁手
여화리가낭 역락강량수
二解
이해

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.
Second stanza.

手牽拽 語兜離
수견예 어두리
笳吹 團團日低 歸擁曼睩蛾眉
가취 단단일저 귀옹만록아미
獨有李家娘 不入穹廬栖
독유리가낭 불입궁려서
三解
삼해

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.
Third stanza.

  • 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.

豈無利刃 斷人肌膚
기무리인 단인기부
轉嗔爲悅 心念彼姝
전전위열 심려피주
彼姝孔多 容貌不如他
피주공다 용모불여타
四解
사해

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.
Fourth stanza.

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
五解
오해

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.
Fifth stanza.

李家娘 腸崩攜
리가낭 창붕휴
箠撻磨滅 珠玉成灰
추달마멸 주옥성회
愁思結衣帶 千結萬結解不開
추사결의대 천결만결해불개
六解
륙해

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.
Sixth stanza.

李家娘 坐軍中
리가낭 좌군중
夜深起望 不見故夫子 唯聞馬嘶悲風
야심기망 불견고부자 유문마사비풍
又見邗溝月 清輝漾漾明心胸
우견한구원 청휘양양명심흉
七解
칠해

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.
Seventh stanza.

  • 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).

令下止殺殘人生 寨外人來
령하지살잔인생 채외인래
殊似舅聲 云我故夫子 身沒亂刀兵
수사구성 운아고부자 신몰란도병
慟仆厚地 哀號蒼旻
통부호지 애호창민
八解
팔해

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.
Eighth stanza.

夫旣歿 妻復何求
부기몰 처부하구
腦髓與壁 心肺與讎
뇌수여벽 심폐여수
不嫌剖腹截頭 俾觀者觳觫若羊牛
불겸부복절두 비관자곡속약양우
九解
구해

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.
Ninth stanza.

  • 觳觫若羊牛(곡속약양우) – Literally, “quivering and trembling like lambs or oxen.” Refers to lambs or oxen taken to the slaughterhouse.

若羊若牛何人
약양약우하인
東家婦 西家女
동가귀 서가녀
來日撤營北去 馳驅辛苦
래일철영북거 치구신고
鴻鵠飛上天 毚兔不離土
홍곡비상천 참토불리토
鄕園回憶李家娘 明駝背上淚如雨
향원회억리가낭 명타배상루여우
十解
십해

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.
Tenth stanza.

  • 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.
5 comments
  1. Alice Cheang said:

    In the second stanza, 女方對鏡,夫已墮首: “Even as/ Just as the wife was sitting before the mirror ( applying make-up with the thought of pleasing her husband), the husband’s head had in fact already fallen.” 方/已 show the relative timing of the actions in the two halves of the line.

    觳觫 (hu4su4) in Stanza Nine could perhaps be more precisely rendered as quivering or trembling. “Trembling with fear like sheep and oxen”, perhaps? The binome first appears in 木蘭詞, I believe, where it actually describes the quivering of the male hare as it couples with the female hare. But here the action is obviously an expression of fear and dread.

      • Alice Cheang said:

        Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten Mencius?!? Thanks, and thank you for your interesting and educational posts.

      • 歸源 said:

        Thank you. I hope you comment more often. 詞 is a type of poetry I do not know well.

    • Seon Lee said:

      I thought it was 木蘭辭? not 詞

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