Chapter 707: Marvelous, hidden palindrome poem!
Translator: Legge Editor:
The contest ended.
Everyone was back to speaking in joyful manners with each other.
Ma Qi said to Chief Yu, "We were divided by gender into two teams, but because the female teachers' team do not really know how to drink, Zhang Ye was pulled over to join their team. The final round was a contest between Teacher Liao and Teacher Zhang."
Chief Yu said a little taken aback, "What did they compete on?"
Ma Qi said, "Poetry, with the theme of 'husband and wife.'"
Chief Yu looked to Liao Qi and smiled. "Old Liao is back to writing poetry?"
Liao Qi smiled and said, "Yes, it was spontaneous and not something that can't be presented on the professional stage. Chief Yu, you're the professional here, why don't you look over my piece and give me some pointers?"
Chief Yu waved it off, feeling flattered. "I sure can take a look, but I don't dare claim to be able to give any advice. If we're talking about writing poetry, you're at a higher level than me."
Liao Qi laughed heartily. "Chief Yu, you're being modest."
At this moment, Su Na came over to join them. "I still feel that Teacher Zhang's poem is better. Chief Yu, since you're here, why don't you give us your opinion? You're definitely the authoritative figure in this area."
A female teacher from Peking University also added, "Yes, please take a look."
As the Chinese Literature question setting team's chief and the supervisor, Yu Fan's qualifications were unquestionable. In the Chinese Literature team, he was definitely among the top few members. Whether it was in the education or academic world, he had had many great achievements in them. On the literary front, everyone had complete conviction in Chief Yu. Since nobody could agree on who won or lost and stuck to their own opinions of whom was better, then why not let an expert give his views instead.
Chief Yu agreed, "Sure."
In the blink of an eye, he was walking toward the two poems that were hung up.
Everyone else also came up behind, surrounding him not too far away.
"We tied our hair to become husband and wife, / Our love and affection we never doubted..." When Chief Yu read these lines out loud, he couldn't help nodding agreeably. "Fine poem." Then he turned his head to look at the other poem. "Gazing with dried eyes over the span of mountains and rivers, / How many a bosom friend have I met thus far..." After reading the poem, Chief Yu was suddenly silent. He stared at the poem for a long time and did not give any comments or say that it was a fine poem like he did for Liao Qi's work. Instead, he seemed to have become lost in thought.
Everyone saw, but did not understand what was going on.
"I don't know."
"Is there something wrong with Zhang Ye's poem?"
"Why isn't Chief Yu saying anything?"
Li Rui from the Chinese Literature team blinked, then said to Chief Yu, "Teacher Zhang's poem did not touch clearly on the theme of the subject. It's not complete enough as it only depicts the feelings of the husband and not the wife's. Comparatively, Teacher Liao's poem is complete, and even though it was decided that this was a draw, I still feel that Teacher Liao has won this round."
Ma Qi said, "If they were contesting calligraphy skills, then needless to say, Zhang Ye's calligraphy skill is already at a very high level. It's not something an amateur can come up against, but if we are talking about the poem alone, then I also think that Teacher Liao has won."
Chief Yu still maintained his silence.
Suddenly, Chief Yu gaze lit up and he unexpectedly turned around to ask, "This was written by Teacher Zhang Ye?"
Li Rui answer with some reservation, "Yes."
Chief Yu sucked in a breath, then turned his head back around and continued staring at that poem. The longer he looked at it, the more shocked he felt, and the more wry his smile became.
Everyone was confused as they did not understand what Chief Yu was doing.
Dean Pan finally said, "Old Yu, what are you daydreaming about? Which of the poems are better? Spit it out." Dean Pan was not knowledgeable about poetry and such, having only been around numbers all his life.
Hearing that, Chief Yu smiled as he shook his head. "Whose poem is better?"
"Yeah, that's right."
"Chief Yu, stop keeping us on our toes."
"So whose poem is better?"
"It should be a draw, right?"
Everyone was extremely curious and wanted to know.
When Chief Yu finished listening to all they had to say, he broke out into laughter. "If we're talking about whose poem is better or of a higher standard, then I really am unable to pass judgment on that, because the difference between these two poems are not simply just a grade or two. These two poems are...basically worlds apart! A draw? A tie? Which of you decided on that?" he said with an amused expression.
Li Rui exclaimed, "Worlds apart?"
Ma Qi was stunned. "Surely it's not to that extreme? So who won?"
Chief Yu did not even think and just replied, "Do you even need to ask who won? It's obviously Teacher Zhang's poem that won, and it won by a difference that one cannot even begin to imagine! The difference between these two poems is not simply just a level or two!"
When Liao Qi heard this, his expression immediately turned dark. "Oh?"
Zhang Ye who wasn't too far away from them also heard this and glanced at them.
Su Na was also very surprised at this. "I do think that Teacher Zhang's Husband Missing Wife is better, but it's still just a little better. Surely it can't be that much better, can it?"
Dean Pan asked, "Is there really such a great difference?"
A female teacher asked, "Surely that's not true, is it?"
A male teacher from Tsinghua University said, "Aren't these two poems quite similar to each other? How did you reach such a conclusion?"
Many people were once again looking at Zhang Ye's Husband Missing Wife because of Chief Yu's comments. They wanted to look at it in detail, but could not understand no matter how hard they tried. Moreover, as Li Rui said, if they really wanted to quibble over the matter of the usage of words, then Zhang Ye's Husband Missing Wife definitely didn't suit the theme too well, so why did his poem get so revered by Chief Yu? This poem clearly had a flaw, didn't it?
Chief Yu glanced at Li Rui and said, "You were saying earlier that Teacher Zhang did not fully touch on the theme? It wasn't complete?"
Li Rui said, "Yes, I really don't understand why you are praising Husband Missing Wife so much. If this poem had another part depicting the wife's feelings for her husband on top of his feelings for her, then it would be complete and would be able to match up to Teacher Liao's work. After all, this isn't an open topic that one can freely decide what to write, but is limited to the scope of the given theme instead."
Chief Yu sniggered. "Wife Missing Husband?"
Ma Qi said, "Yes."
Chief Yu smiled and said, "If I were to tell you that it exists in this poem?"
Everyone was stunned.
"Wife Missing Husband?"
"Where is it?!"
"Yeah, there's nothing that mentions that!"
"Damn, what is Chief Yu talking about? Isn't this just Husband Missing Wife? It's depicting the husband's feelings of missing his wife from beginning till end, where's the depiction of the wife's part?"
Everyone was feeling confused, not understanding what Chief Yu was talking about.
In the end, Chief Yu did not keep everyone in suspense and looked up at the poem once again, some shock still in his eyes. He pointed at it and said, "This poem is not as simple as what you see on the surface, nor was it written casually by Little Zhang. There's something hidden in it, so why don't you read it backwards to find out what it is!"
Su Na was stunned. "What?"
Liao Qi said, "Read it backwards?"
Li Rui said appalled, "What do you mean by reading it backwards? How can we read it backwards?"
Chief Yu smiled and said, "Don't believe it? Then why don't you all try reading it once that way?"
Everyone looked at the last two lines of the poem with the intention to just give it a try as Chief Yu suggested. "The lamp serves as my companion on lonely nights, / I am thinking of you, my wife and son."
Read it backwards?
Someone who was not convinced by anything that was said so far, recited it out aloud:
"Your...wife...and...son...are...thinking...of...you..." However, just listening to this first line was enough to stun a few people!
"Oh my god!"
Wife Missing Husband!
There's really a goddamn Wife Missing Husband!
What the heck! What was this? Just what the heck was this?
Su Na was very shocked, but hurriedly continued reciting it, each word louder and louder:
"Keeping a lonesome watch like a solitary lamp.
"Hesitating to send letters with no response.
"Long departed, we're separated like life and death.
"Why do you find it difficult to pen a reply?
"Pouring a bowl of wine yet afraid the pot will empty.
"Even as bosom friends, we have barely met.
"Gazing with dried eyes over the span of mountains and rivers!"
When the entire poem was read out aloud backwards, all of the teachers present there, including the Tsinghua and Peking University teachers were all stunned!
An antithesis? It was done to extreme neatness! [1.]
Does it rhyme? It rhymed perfectly!
Moreover, there was a difference in the poem when read backwards or forward.
It was like another poem with a change in perspective!
Reading it normally, it was about a man missing his wife! Reading it backwards, it was about a woman missing her husband! This was simply unbelievable!
Su Na exclaimed, "Holy shit!"
A female teacher from Peking University also said, "Holy shit!"
A female teacher from an Institute of Technology echoed them, "Holy shit!"
Liao Qi: "..."
Li Rui was desperately gasping for air!
Ma Qi was dumbfounded!
Dean Pan was dumbfounded!
The other teachers were all dumbfounded!
Suddenly, a younger female teacher shouted from the crowd, "Palindrome poem! It's a palindrome poem!!"[2.]
At this moment, no one knew what words could express their feelings anymore. Perhaps, the most suitable phrase that could depict their moods right now was "what the f*ck!"
Could it get any more awesome than this?
Could it be any more unbelievable than this?
To think that just a moment ago, Su Na and the other female teachers from Peking University were still grumbling about how Zhang Ye did not seem to be putting in any effort and just casually composing a poem without serious thought. Who knew that it turned out to be the complete opposite of that! Zhang Ye did not just casually compose it! If he did that, would the poem be able to be read from both directions? Why don't you be casual and show us that instead! This was clearly a poem that Zhang Ye had put a lot of thought into to create! And he even did it spontaneously on the spot! There wasn't even a draft!
Thinking about how everyone had earlier come to such a conclusion, it would surely make anyone laugh their heads off! How could it be a tie? Chief Yu was right, these two poems were never in the same world to begin with! Even if Liao Qi's poem was pushed up a further four to five grades, it would still fall far behind Zhang Ye's poem! The chasm was too wide! This was a difference in the standards and level of the poet, a difference that couldn't be bridged even with a different usage of words and composition techniques!
Liao Qi remained silent.
A few of the teachers from Tsinghua University who had been stirring the pot earlier to get Zhang Ye to step up to take the challenge also stayed quiet! The difference in standards were too great that they didn't even know what they could say anymore! To compete with Zhang Ye in composing poetry? Perhaps from the beginning, this whole incident was already the greatest joke in the world!
At this time, the way that many of those present were all looking at Zhang Ye was like they had seen a god!
There were even some people who were still staring so hard at Zhang Ye's poem that they couldn't snap out of it. They read it over and over again, forwards and backwards. Every time they completed reading it once, they felt an urge to curse at someone's second grandma to appease their shock. This poem was...really too goddamn awesome!
Su Na suddenly walked up quickly to get Zhang Ye's poem and rolled it up carefully. She held the rolled up Xuan paper in her hands and said, "I didn't get your Ode to Mulan previously, so don't even try to reject me. Please gift this poem to me, Teacher Zhang."
Zhang Ye smiled and threw up his hands. "Whatever."
But no one else was having any of it. They all rushed up and tried to claim it for themselves.
"What's this, what's this?!"
"Little Na, don't even try to jump the gun on us!"
"Teacher Su, what do you mean by it's yours? I was still thinking of taking it for myself!"
"Little Su, please let me have the poem. I will treat you to one month's worth of lunch!"
"Teacher Zhang Ye, gift it to me instead, please!"
[1. (in poetry, etc.) a matching of both sound and sense in two lines, sentences, etc. usually with the matching words in the same part of speech]
[2. Note that it definitely doesn't work in English as a palindrome poem. The poem was translated to the best we could in terms of meaning instead. Below, you'll find the original palindrome poem (with English translation).]
Husband Missing Wife
, Gazing with dried eyes over the span of mountains and rivers,
. How many a bosom friend have I met thus far?
, The pot empty, afraid of pouring wine,
. Difficult to pen my reply.
, Journeyed away from the living for a long time,
. Without news I slowly return home.
, The lamp serves as my companion on lonely nights,
. I am thinking of you, my wife and son.
Wife Missing Husband
, Your wife and son are thinking of you,
. Keeping a lonesome watch like a solitary lamp.
, Hesitating to send letters with no response.
. Long departed, we're separated like life and death.
, Why do you find it difficult to pen a reply?
. Pouring a bowl of wine yet afraid the pot will empty.
, Even as bosom friends, we have barely met.
. Gazing with dried eyes over the span of mountains and rivers.
Hello, readers. Could I ask for everyone to leave a review for IRAS at the novel's main page?
Thank you! :)