Go to contents

Heart-felt brotherhood

Posted April. 21, 2023 07:49,   

Updated April. 21, 2023 07:49


Imprisoned by the Censorate in the capital city of Bianjing, this poet wrote two pieces of poetry for his younger brother Su Zhe and his family while ending his days. This poem, the first of the two pieces, was produced right before he could likely die soon, making it all the more depressing and desperate. He was sent to prison not because of treason or corruption but rather due to the accusations made amid political conflicts that he wrote poetry critical of the royal court to influence public opinion. Put simply, the tragedy was triggered by his authorship.

My brother, I am tragically destined to die when the world owes the emperor a debt of gratitude. I wish I had been wise enough! Death only buries me in the grave. Distraught after I leave, you will be left alone to take care of our family. How heavy a heart I have! My last wish is to keep our brotherly love forever. The poet felt sorry about asking his younger brother to take responsibility for his family and leaving him alone and lonely. At the same time, he sincerely wished to stay with the brother forever. Guess what happened to Su Shi after he wrote this poem. His brother decided to step down to pay a price for what his elder brother did. Even Wan Anshih, a political opponent who led reformist groups, asked the emperor to give amnesty to Su Shi. Finally, Emperor Shinjong responded favorably and generously to set him free. The poem was also saved from being remembered as the last piece right before his death.