Chapter 371: Old Wu's Birthday Gift
The atmosphere turned quiet.
Everyone was looking at the couplet.
Zhang Ye was afraid people in the distance could not see it, so he recited it once, " (jì mò hán chuāng kōng shǒu guǎ, in this lonely and tiny unit as a widow)."
Father Su was filled with despair! He had came forward full of confidence, thinking he was bound to win. Who knew the couplet awaiting him would forcefully smothered him. Master Zhou and a few truly knowledgeable people were also stunned the moment Zhang Ye put down his brush!
This first half...
Zhang Ye's couplet's first half had a very simple meaning and was even straightforward. It was how a lonely widow stayed alone. It was not like other couplets which were quite a mouthful or textually intricate. There was no need to even explain the couplet. Everyone could understand it, but this first half's only trick was that one of its radicals were the same. On the surface, it looked like an ordinary miraculous couplet. There were plenty of such couplets in this world, so it was nothing surprising. Of course, this was a layman's point of view. True experts, who had deeply researched couplets, would feel like vomiting blood the moment they saw it!
How could it be matched?
There was no way of matching it!
However, there were a few calligraphers who did not realize this. They began suggesting ideas.
"Teacher Su, why aren't you writing anything?"
"I think trying with 'disconsolate sorrow'...Eh, it won't work."
"Try using 'a beautiful fair'...Oh it won't do too. The correspondence doesn't match."
The more they ruminated, the more of a headache they experienced. The more they thought, the more alarmed they became. The first half of the couplet seemed like anyone could match it as long as enough time was given. However, the more they thought through it carefully and researched it thoroughly, they felt even more powerless. Their hearts slowly turned cold!
It could not be matched!
This couplet could not be matched!
The collective wisdom of everyone failed to match the couplet!
Master Zhou reminded everyone. "Since someone has come forward, for this round, there should not be any suggestions from the crowd, alright? Little Wu's team only has two people and the numbers are quite few to begin with."
However, Zhang Ye said, "Master Zhou, it's fine. This couplet of mine has no time limit nor is it restricted to anyone. Even if someone can match it a few decades later, you can consider it as me losing this round."
Master Zhou looked at him and gave a pleased smile and nod. "Alright, then let's leave the outcome of this round on hold. Who knows, this might become a story decades later. Haha."
Zhang Ye suggested, "Then let's end it here today."
Master Zhou agreed and began to become fond of Zhang Ye. "Alright, the auspicious item now has an honor, so it's of little significance to carry the competition. It's already past 1 PM, so let's have our meal!"
Not mentioning the winner or loser?
Taking this round as a tie? Leaving it for the future?
Everyone knew this youth in shades was leaving them face. According to the rules of the competition, he would definitely win. However, by him offering to put this on hold showed he had some bearing. It seemed like this youth had a sense of propriety. He did not incessantly chase after them to smack their faces.
Zhang Ye had compromised, but he actually did not plan on doing so. Chen Mo's words had provoked him. He had planned on wiping them out, but there was no other way. His opponent this round was Su Na's father. Su Na was his colleague, and they always had a cordial relationship. Zhang Ye could treat others however he wanted, but he naturally could not hunt down the father of his friend. Hence, he initiated this "peaceful draw". It was not because Zhang Ye had a sense of propriety. It was just wishful thinking of the others. It was just Zhang Ye giving Su Na and her father some face.
Others did not know that Zhang Ye never backed down?
But Su Na definitely knew. She was very familiar with Zhang Ye and knew of his temper. He was a person who didn't care who he faced. Had he ever been afraid of anyone? How high a status did Professor Yan have? Zhang Ye scolded him the moment he was given the chance. Su Na knew Zhang Ye was not a person who would back down because of hierarchy. The reason why Teacher Zhang did not care about the outcome was because of Su Na herself. Upon realizing this, Su Na felt warmth spread through her heart. He had disregarded so many calligraphers and artists to the point of not even bothering about them, much less currying favor. Yet, Zhang Ye had given Su Na, his friend, face. From Su Na's point of view, such a friend was worth having. This was a true friend!
Su Na looked over and winked.
Zhang Ye nodded and exchanged looks with her.
At this moment, Master Wei finally laughed. "A young person's abilities must be respected!"
Zhang Ye said a few humble words, but it was just a few. "All of you went easy on me. If everyone really got serious, I wouldn't be your match."
Wu Zeqing also smiled and said, "Master Wei, so I'll be keeping this auspicious item?"
Master Wei gave an expression as if he seemed unwilling to part with it. It was unknown if it was really what he was feeling. "Let me take another look at it. If I don't look at it, I might never have another chance to do so."
Master Wei's disciple, Chen Mo had an ugly expression. So many of them failed to get an item his teacher wanted. It was too shameful!
Master Zhou's disciples had already brought out the the auspicious item out.
Wu Zeqing said elegantly. "Why don't I lend it to you for a period of time? You can return it to me when the time comes."
"Alright." Master Wei asked her, "How long are you going to lend it to me for?"
Wu Zeqing gave a faint chuckle. "A hundred years."
Master Wei glanced at her and was humored. "Alright, it's decided then!"
The last few lines were only between the two of them. Only Master Zhou and his two disciples who were holding up the calligraphy piece could hear it. Well, there was also Zhang Ye who had a keen ear. As for the rest, they did not hear it. They only heard that Wu Zeqing was lending it to Master Wei for a period of time for his enjoyment. He still had to return it when the time came.
Lending it to him for a hundred years?
Then that was something that did not need to be returned!
Zhang Ye did not mind Wu Zeqing's decision. He supported Old Wu in everything that she did.
The two disciples were stunned and did not utter a word. Since Wu Zeqing had whispered, she naturally had a reason behind it. Saying that she was lending it instead of giving it to Master Wei was most likely to save Master Wei face. So, they did not make it known.
Master Zhou was overjoyed with this outcome. In a good mood, he instructed the staff to begin the banquet.
Master Wei's mood also turned good. "I think we should eat in the courtyard."
"Sure." Master Zhou looked up. "Today's weather is pretty good. It's nice and warm."
Another calligraphy master smiled and said, "Alright, then let's set up tables in the backyard. If there's not enough space, the rest can go eat inside the building."
The tables were set up.
The dishes were served.
Wu Zeqing called Zhang Ye over. "Did you hear it?"
"Ah? Hear what?" Zhang Ye pretended not to know.
Wu Zeqing had only used a voice that only the two of them could hear. "I have given the auspicious item you won for me to Master Wei. Since it was won by you, I have to let you know."
Zhang Ye said, "Oh, it's fine. It's up to you. After all, I won it for you."
Wu Zeqing smiled faintly and said, "The reason why I didn't want Master Zhou's calligraphy piece is because I want you to write one for me. I did not want that gift, so you have to prepare a gift for me. I believe once the meal begins, everyone will begin giving their gifts. It wouldn't look good if you are empty-handed, right? Hur Hur, I'm waiting for you to write a nice calligraphy piece for me."
Zhang Ye felt a proud. What sort of person was Master Zhou? He was a calligraphy master. To think President Wu gave up on Master Zhou's exquisite piece of calligraphy and thought nothing of it, but instead, she wanted one of Zhang Ye's calligraphy pieces. How great of an honor was this? Zhang Ye felt flattered and honored at the same time.
However, what should he write?
There was nothing he could write!
Zhang Ye laughed and said, "Why don't I give you the ancient poems and couplets I wrote previously to you. You can treat them all as a birthday gift, alright?"
Wu Zeqing said, "I already wanted those poems. Hur Hur, but I think it's not enough. After all, those aren't true ancient poetry. They lack the support of allusions. Be it poems or melody poems, there is no historical background to them, so it is lacking in the mood."
Zhang Ye was unconvinced. "How can there not be any allusions supporting them?"
Wu Zeqing chuckled, "Then let me ask you, in that melody poem, 'Lady Yu, the Royal Beauty', why was she called a beauty? And which homeland was it? In 'Mourning Day', what place is the Almond Flower Village the cowherd points to? Is there some story behind them? In 'Passing by Huaqing Palace', what sort of place is Huaqing Palace? In 'one horse rider kicking up red dust, the concubine laughs', who was the concubine? How do you know there was a concubine who ate lychee? Are there ancient records of such events in history? Is there such information in literature?"
Zhang Ye tried explaining, "About that..."
Before he finished speaking, Wu Zeqing laughed. "Anyway, you owe me a gift, and I'll want it in a while."
"Little Wu, come join us over here in the main seats." Master Zhou called over.
Wu Zeqing went over leaving Zhang Ye smiling wryly. Old Wu was clearly trying to rob him. And she was planning on robbing him dry!
Not only her, everyone else knew Zhang Ye's poems were good. There was no faults that could be picked in terms of literature, but it lacked the support of history and allusions. If it was written by an ancient, then there was no need to even think about it. The ancients were part of history to begin with. These poems were perfect, but Zhang Ye wasn't an ancient. He was just a modern person who had absorbed modern day culture. This caused his poems to drop in value.
Zhang Ye was still unconvinced!
Who told you my poems do not have any allusions supporting them?
Who told you I can't explain them through historical information?
Why was "Lady Yu, the Royal Beauty" called a beauty? Because, Lady Yu, she...forget it, let's talk about the next one. Eh, what country was the homeland? The homeland was of course...Right, let's talk about Almond Flower Village. Where was Almond Flower Village? Almond Flower Village is actually...the...the place beside...Sweet...Sweet Rice Village...F**k! I just wanted to f**king write Almond Flower Village! Why do all of you care!? Why care!?
Zhang Ye became angry. He indeed could not explain the stories behind these ancient phrases. If he had to explain, he would have to extend it to the historical stories from his world.
These poems lacked some meaning?
Then what gift can I give you?
Few ancient poems rarely didn't have a story behind them!
Do I have to write a folk song poem? Many of these did not have any historical allegories, as they themselves were a form of allegory. They were adapted from folk tales. From Zhang Ye's understanding, it was just an ancient story, telling some fictitious story, then there would be no need to have any historical stories to support it.
Folk song poem.
What should I write for Old Wu?