Testament to My Sons
By Lu You
I know that after death everything will be vain,
But I’m grieved not to see our country reunite.
When Royal Armies recover the Central Plain,
Do not forget to tell your sire in sacred rite!
Lu You wrote this poem just before his death. At that time, he was already 85 years old and knew that his days were numbered. When a person approaches his end, he usually recalls his whole life, sighs with regrets or makes arrangements for the unfinished things that he most worries about. The whole life of Lu You was full of frustrations and he lived a poor life. However, he did not care about this. The only grievous thing before his death was that he did not see the reunification of the country and the thing he earnestly instructed his descendants was his hope to realize his desire. The poet also felt confident in the reunification of the country in his poem. Even if he died, his soul would continue to wait until it heard the good news of the reunification of the country. The whole poem contains intense patriotic passion and adopts romantic ways of expression. Because of this, the short poem has struck a strong responsive chord in the hearts of thousands of later patriots, instructed and encouraged them to sacrifice everything, even their lives, in the struggle for the reunification of the country. Lu You, who was born in 1125 and died in 1210, was a poet of the Southern Song Dynasty. His style name was Wuguan and his alternative name was Fangweng. He was a native of Shanyin in Yuezhou which now belongs to Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province.
Lu You was one of the outstanding poets in the Song Dynasty who were qualified to be mentioned in the same breath with Su Shi. He was also one of the poets who produced the greatest number of poems in the Chinese history of 9300 poems have been handed down. His care for the fate of his nation, his love for the people and his determination to resist aggression were the ideological essence born in a family that had officials for several generations and received a good cultural education. However, he lived in a disgraced time when the Song Dynasty was corrupt and incompe tent. Ar that time, the Jin army (the army of Nuchen nationality) invaded and plundered much territory of the country, but the Song Dynasty was unable to strike back. The second year after his birth, the Jin army Henan Province. Until he was at the advanced age of 85, he still did not see the filling his heart. Strong patriotic feelings urged him to bear in mind constantly the recapture of the lost territory and the great cause of resuming the Central Plains since he was young. For this reason, he submitted a written statement to a higher authority again and again to be strongly for fighting. He was dismissed from office country and became a civilian, he “still dare not forget to concern about the country in spite of his inferior position.” He put absolute sincerity of his patriotic feelings into his poems. On his deathbed, he was still preoccupied with recapturing the lost mountains of his country, his bitter hatred for the corrupt and incompetent governor, his sympathy for the broad masses struggling bitterly against poverty and chaos, and his yearnings for the reunification of the country and for a stable and peaceful life like Du Fu, he was a realistic poet. At the same time, he also adopted the romantic thoughts and exquisite ideas. For this reason, he is called “Junior Taibai”. It may be said that his poems achieved great success both in ideology and in arts and he was good enough to be the master of great learning and integrity in producing poems in the history of the Chinese literature.