Chapter 366: "Missing You" - Part four of five!
It was decided.
Zhang Ye would compete in the first round.
This fellow, Zhang Ye, finally stopped munching on his melon seeds. After he brushed off the seed husks that had fallen on his legs, he got up and walked over, standing before the platform. Zhang Ye had not seen many of this world's poetry. He was pretty much totally void of any knowledge. However, he knew a ton of poetry from his world! Ceng/Zeng? There were not many poems that began with that, but there were a few that were more well-known. For example, there was something like - I have had my best love before but I didn't treasure her...*
It was a joke.
On the other side, Teacher Wang basically felt that he had the first round in the bag. Master Wei's teammates were also waiting for Wu Zeqing to come forward. They wanted to see how much Wu Zeqing's calligraphy skills had improved, but what they ended up waiting was for Wu Zeqing's only teammate, that youth in shades whom they did not know!
What did this mean?
Wu Zeqing was not coming forward.
The first question was left to the youth?
Many people were stunned momentarily. They thought the youth in sunglasses was just there to make up the numbers, so as to allow Wu Zeqing to have someone on her team. At least it would not look so bad on her part. With them having the preconception that he was not planning on participating in the competition, this scene made them fail to react in time. He was really coming forward?
Who are you?
A nobody wanted to compete with Teacher Wang in calligraphy?
Teacher Wang found it amusing and a bit infuriating. He was thinking how this Little Wu looked down on him. She got someone perfunctory to play with me? Teacher Wang felt like he wouldn't be able to bask in any glory even if he won against this youth, so he was not elated at all. He cast a glance at Zhang Ye, not even interested in asking his name.
Go ahead and write!
I want to see what you can write!
A poem starting with Ceng? It would be pretty good if you could even recite one!
Master Zhou reminded them. "There's another 90 seconds left. Please hurry."
Master Zhou's seemed to lose a bit of interest. As for those people on Master Wei's side, they also could not get excited. No one present thought anything of the youth in shades. They believed Wu Zeqing had given up on this question and was afraid to lose too badly, hence getting this youth to come forward. Since he was unknown, it wouldn't be too shameful. Hence, this first round lost meaning to everyone!
Zhang Ye held the brush and began to dip it in ink.
Just this posture of him dipping his brush into the ink made many people find it extremely humorous. It was too unsightly. When they trained in calligraphy, the first thing they learned was the basic skill of grinding ink. There was an art to it, and the brush had to be held nicely so as to have the bearing of a person in the arts. However, Zhang Ye's posture was clearly a layman among laymen. Even a rookie was better than him. Was this even called dipping ink? Why did he look like he was holding a toilet plunger?
"Hur Hur Hur."
"This person is really funny."
"He really dared to come forward?"
"What sort of competition is this? He really has the nerve."
"Teacher Wang is an old member of the Calligraphy Association. His skills are far from average. He was also the first to write the most famous poem that begins with "Ceng". What can he even write?"
Voices sounded out one after another.
However, Wu Zeqing stared over unblinkingly.
The moment Zhang Ye landed his brush, many people stopped talking. Some were startled, while some exclaimed, there were even more who were stunned!
The first word was written!
It was semi-cursive script!
No, it wasn't standard semi-cursive script!
This was running-standard script? And it was different from the usual kind. This youth in shades seemed to have a special style. It varied very differently from others!
Father Su's eyes lit up. These words were far from average!
When Master Zhou saw this, he could not help but let out a cry of "nicely written" in his heart!
Even the family members of these calligraphers present, who were laymen, were stunned by this. No one expected him to write so nicely!
The words were naturally special. Was the stance Zhang Ye used when dabbing the ink ugly? That was because he had just bought a "Memory Search Capsule" to eat. His mind wasn't in reality, but immersed in the calligraphy classes he had in primary school. There were calligraphy books, standard ones and ones by famous calligraphers. After eating a hundred Calligraphy Skillbooks, Zhang Ye felt he could write anything. However, he could not make it a complete hodge-podge. He had to use a certain script or style. Zhang Ye's calligraphy skills basically came from nothing except what he had gained from those Experience Books. He had no practice, so he had no thoughts of his own. Hence, he could only emulate the calligraphy styles of others.
Whose should he use?
A name seemed to appear in Zhang Ye's brain like a reflex. He believed that as long as calligraphy from his world was mentioned, everyone would think of that name!
Semi-cursive script, regular script, cursive script. He was an expert in all of them!
He was a calligraphy sage! He was the greatest calligraphy master in all of history! He had no equal!
If Zhang Ye wanted to emulate, he had to emulate someone more awesome. Wang Xizhi was at the pinnacle of calligraphy, so it was natural to choose his style. Cursive script was too difficult to emulate, so it was rejected. Regular script was too slow and was behind the times. Hence, the answer was apparent. Zhang Ye used Wang Xizhi's unique version of semi-cursive script, known as running-standard script. Perhaps he had not eaten enough Calligraphy Skill Experience Books, so although he had Wang Xizhi's style from his world in his head, the moment he started writing, he realized that he could not create a perfect emulation of it. Especially, in the artistic concept within, he could only imitate 10-20% of it. It was way too difficult. However, just this tiny bit would do. That was a calligraphy sage. It was absolutely no problem stunning the people from this world. This world did not have someone on par with Wang Xizhi!
Teacher Wang's expression turned solemn.
Su Na was also excitedly jumping to catch a glimpse. She never expected Teacher Zhang's calligraphy to be so good. Was he just pretending back at the Beijing Couplet Competition!? He did not turn serious at all!
It was too much of a surprise!
Everyone was startled by Zhang Ye's writing!
Master Wei also stopped underestimating him and became serious!
The first word was already determined, but the second word also came out.
Teacher Wang was trying to weigh it on his mind, but he came to an unbelievable conclusion. This youth's calligraphy skills were even better than his own. How was this possible?! But the truth was right in front of his eyes. He was rendered speechless. He thought a soft persimmon had come for him to easily crush, but who knew it was a hard one! And it was too hard! If he could write such calligraphy at such a young age, how good would he become in the future? And who was he? For a person with such calligraphy skill, he could not be some nobody. If he wanted to be famous, he could have become famous long ago, but why does nobody know him?
Zhang Ye wrote it very quickly and had finished writing the fourth word, "vast".
However, when the crowd ended their amazement over the youth's calligraphy, their minds began to be filled with questions. Having? Crossed the? Vast? What sort of opening was this? Why had noone heard of it before?
"Master Zhou?" A person could not help but ask.
Another one whispered, "Elder Zhou, what poem is this?"
Master Zhou was also curious. "I don't know either. Maybe it's a poem from some unknown poetry collection? Maybe it is unknown? Or maybe we have forgotten it? Let's wait until he finishes writing it. Someone is bound to recognize it."
Father Su looked at Master Wei, "Old Master Wei?"
Master Wei shook his head. "I do not have any impressions of this poem either."
After everyone conversed with each other, everyone agreed that no one had seen this poem before.
Teacher Wang felt assured. Although it was a competition in calligraphy, the poem itself was extremely important. Calligraphy could never be appreciated in isolation. It had to express the meaning in the text. He had used the relatively famous, "Untitled" poem and was likely invincible. Although he felt sorry for the young lad, he was bound to win this round.
The other people had similar thoughts as they watched Zhang Ye writing silently.
Words began to appear on the Xuan paper!
Wu Zeqing had already stood up and walked to stand behind Zhang Ye.
As people watched his every stroke, slowly, more and more of their expressions changed. Some gasped while others were stunned with widened eyes!
"Silence. Don't disturb him!"
The poem was very short and there were not many words.
When Zhang Ye finished writing the last word in a smooth manner, he released his pent up breath. He looked at his work with satisfaction and smiled. He then put the brush down and nodded at Master Zhou. "I'm done."
Master Zhou was already staring at Zhang Ye's face!
The way Master Wei was looking at Zhang Ye was full of alarm and doubt!
After Teacher Wang finished reading the poem, his face first turned pale before he gave a wry smile.
Many people could not see as they were quite far away. Some people hurriedly came over to take a glance, then they began looking at each other in pairs, seeing the shock in each other's eyes!
On the Xuan paper, this was written:
Having crossed the vast oceans, I can no longer take a river seriously. If it's not on Mount Wushan, it's not a cloud.
I don't care to look back on my leisurely walks among the flowers and shrubs, half due to religious devotion, and half due to you.
Su Na could not help but exclaim, "Nice poem! Nicely written!"
With her spearheading it, the surrounding crowd also began to give their kudos. They all began to express their amazement!
"These words sure have a profound meaning!"
"That's right. He is so skilled at such a young age?"
"The calligraphy is good, but the poem is even better. Why have I never heard of such a poem with such poetic flair?"
"I have never heard of it either. It looks like we are ill-informed."
At this moment, Master Zhou spoke up and said to everyone, "It's not that everyone is ill-informed or ignorant. This poem should have been composed on the spot by this young lad, right?"
A young calligrapher in his thirties exclaimed, "Composed on the spot?"
Everyone was a bit dumbfounded. With the young lad remaining silent, it clearly meant tacit agreement. Everyone was completely baffled as to how he had produced it on the spot!
In just a few minutes?
And there was a topic restriction, yet he could write poetry of this level?
Numerous gazes focused on Zhang Ye's face. Where did this aficionado jump out from!? In calligraphy competitions, many of the questions had limitations to them to increase the difficulty, preventing you from having simple stories or poems to write about, but good going! You sure were good! You decided not to use any of the poems and songs of the ancients, and created one yourself? And yet you could write a poem so elegant?
Today's competition was too interesting!
*This is a line from comedian king, Stephen Chow's movie, A Chinese Odyssey 2
Translators' Note: Just click it. 'Nuff said.