Crossing the frozen river, undated, poem and calligraphy in running script by Emperor Kangxi; hanging scroll, ink on gold-flecked paper; imperial seals: Kangxi chen han (Kangxi imperial brush), Jigu youwen zhu zhang (seal of examining the ancient to improve culture); Yuanjian zhai (studio of profound descernment); collectors' seals: Baoji sanbian (volume 3 of the Precious Collection of the Stone Moat Pavillion); Shiqiu baoji suo cang (Collected in the Precious Collection of the Stone Moat Pavillion); Xuangtong zunqin zhi bao (Treasure of the esteemed parents of the Xuantong Emperor); Jiaoyubu dianyan zhi zhang (Inspection seal of the Department of Education). A Palace Museum holding, Beijing.
What an interesting person Kangxi was, Louis XIV alter-ego in the east. The Three Emperors puts it right when it says that there had never been anyone like him in all of China's history; that he had to work without a model. Culturally he was part Manchu (horseman, hunter, warrior) and part Chinese (scholar, administrator, poet, painter, collector). As if intentionally to exercise sprezzatura, he wrote only passable Chinese calligraphy and composed but half-decent Chinese poetry, carefully avoiding the usual woos literati stuff (cherry blossoms, snow petals, reflections of the moon); his poetry is full of virile, manly, martial spirit. And thus this one reads:
Deep clouds hang over ten thousand cavalry.Not great poetry perhaps, but it makes abundantly clear that the emperor wrote pants. Horseman's pants.
A thousand flags echo in the teeth of the gale.
By midnight the river has iced over,
The imperial armies cross without fear.