Chapter 923, Part 1: This Humble Zu Occupies Eight Parts
“The main character obviously needs to show up at the final decisive moment,” Zu An said.
His words immediately drew the irritation of those present, and they immediately cursed him for being shameless and cocky.
Zu An was on cloud nine when he saw the incoming Rage points, so he taunted them a bit more.
The smile on Lady Nan Xun’s face also stiffened.
She couldn't help but remind him, “May I ask if you have an answer to this prompt”
Zu An pretended to think for a moment, then said with a clear voice, “The receding sunset clouds overflow with crisp coolness; silently, the starry streams surround a ring of jade.”
The clamoring audience fell silent.
They all began to mutter to themselves.
The more they repeated the words, the more profound they seemed.
The exceptional beauty in the special room exclaimed in surprise, “That fellow actually possessed such literary talents I’ve really underestimated him.”
The maid who had been looking down on Zu An all this time asked, confused, “Is this verse really amazing” She couldn't sense the intricacies behind the words with just her knowledge and experience.
The exceptional beauty nodded.
“It is.” Then, she fell silent, clearly not intending to explain herself.
The maid could only pout and sulk. Is the young miss looking down on me She’s not even going to explain it to me!
Bi Ziang revealed an expression of surprise, remarking, “This guy is quite interesting.
He’s worth a second look from this young master.”
Those around him immediately said in praise, “He’s still far from young master Bi.”
Bi Ziang said indifferently, “The fact that he can even be compared to me is already something for him to be proud of.” Those around him merely laughed and voiced their agreement.
In the Qin brothers’ room, Qin Yongde couldn't help but say, “I didn’t expect this man to have some literary talent in him.
I was wondering why sister Chuyan chose him back then.
It was probably this part of him.”
Qin Guangyuan harrumphed.
“Literary skills are just tricks; they aren’t useful for anything.
They’re only good for tricking girls.”
Nan Xun also revealed an expression of surprise.
Her beautiful eyes swirled with wonder as she spoke.
“There are no words like ‘moonlight’ or ‘like water’; rather, it uses the words ‘overflow’ and ‘crisp coolness’.
And yet, they still imply that the moonlight is similar to water.
The verse gives off a clear and refreshing feeling.
The stars pale in comparison to the moon; the words ‘starry streams’ create an indistinct and distant feeling.
‘Silently, the starry streams’ seems to convey that the starry streams ought to make sound, yet they become silent because of how distant and remote they are.
This gives off a powerful feeling of the vastness of the cosmos.
‘Ring of jade’ speaks of the moon’s pure and incorruptible beauty; these words not only describe its moving wonder, they also suggest its round shape.
Nowhere in the verse does it state that it was the full moon that is being admired, and yet it is clear how pleasing and delightful it is to the writer.
Furthermore, as someone…”
She had only given courteous comments on the other people’s verses, and she’d had to rack her brains to barely enumerate some good points.
She had actually been getting quite frustrated.
But this was now sincere praise, and the more she spoke about the verse, the more excited she became.
Zu An was quite shocked.
This courtesan really was good at this sort of thing! After all, it wasn’t so easy for scholars to praise each other.
Not only did one have to speak words of substance, one also had to make sure to ‘scratch’ their particular itch. No wonder she’s a courtesan queen! Her level can almost compare to me when I was studying for those literature reading comprehension tests!
The others felt incredibly jealous when they heard Lady Nan Xun’s enthusiastic praise. That Zu An doesn’t look like anything special, but he actually has some skills here…
Then, they looked toward Yu Nan to watch him suffer.
Lady Nan Xun had used him as a comparison to teach the man with no filter a lesson, but now, Yu Nan had instead been put on the spot.
How awkward was that
Yu Nan had started off so strong, and considering how handsome he was, they had all thought that he was the one most likely to be invited as Nan Xun’s guest.
So now, they were obviously looking forward to seeing his reaction.
Their opinions of Zu An eased up when they thought of that.
They found him more and more likable!
Sensing the fiery looks all around him, Yu Nan coldly asked, “Who wrote this verse of yours What’s the title I’ve studied extensively for many years.
Even though I can’t claim to know all poetry throughout history by heart, I can still be considered proficient.
And yet, I’ve never heard of these verses of yours.”
The others quickly realized the same thing when they heard those words.
They whispered to each other, “That’s right! These two lines sounded excellent, but we’ve never heard of them before!” Then, they all looked toward Lady Nan Xun.
Judging from her analysis, they all knew that she might be the one who possessed the highest literary accomplishments in the room.
Even Nan Xun froze up for a moment.
Then, she said, “It might be that I am still ignorant and inexperienced, but I have never heard of them either.
However, how vast is literature It might just be that I have not read it all yet.”
Her response was carefully given and didn’t offend either side.
But the more she spoke that way, the more certain people became that the poem didn’t exist.
Their attention shifted toward Zu An.
At first, their gazes had been full of praise, but now, it had been replaced by more ridicule.
They wondered just how he had put together the two verses to pretend they came from some famous poet.
Zu An was about to say that it was from Su Dongpo, but he suddenly stopped.
After all, that person didn’t exist in this world, so no one would believe him if he said that name.
But that didn’t matter; it wasn’t a problem for him at all.
“You see, those famous verses were practically all used up by the rest of you, so the leftover verses weren’t particularly great.
I’d only be defiling Lady Nan Xun’s ears by reciting them, so I brought out a verse I wrote in the past.
I hope Lady Nan Xun doesn’t find it uncomfortable,” Zu An said calmly.
What was a so-called plagiarist What was plagiarizing If it didn’t exist here in the first place, it was purely an output of culture! Zu An thought, I’m sure Mister Dongpo would be happy to see his poetry spread into a different world.
Nan Xun’s eyes lit up.
“This is a poem that young master Zu created yourself” Her attitude changed quickly.
She even began to use the title ‘young master’.
“I’ve shown Lady Nan Xun a poor side of me,” Zu An replied.
He suddenly recalled that many of the Tang and Song dynasties’ greatest poems had often been circulated among the pleasure quarters.
When a group of scholars lingered around brothels, the ones who could create the most outstanding poems would receive the women’s favor.
After all, all of these poems could be recited with music.
The most famous courtesans needed high quality poems to improve their reputation and get their names out.
In return, those women would serve such men even more carefully.
Not only would they not take money, they would instead choose to lose money.
The most famous of them all had been Liu Yong.
He had been hated so much by the emperor that he was never allowed an official career, so he could only drink his life away in the pleasure quarters.
He had never spent a cent, and it was instead the brothels’ women who had raised him.
Liu Yong had lived a destitute and frustrating life, and he hadn’t even had money for a burial when he died.
In the end, the prostitutes of the city had pooled their money together for his burial…
Pah pah pah! I’ll never let myself end up like that! Zu An thought.
“Young master really is a genius!” Nan Xun’s eyes flickered brilliantly.
She appeared to be full of tender feelings when she looked at him.
The onlookers immediately became overwhelmed with jealousy.
Even Bi Ziang, who had been reclining leisurely, couldn't help but sit up.
He was about to say something, but he suddenly thought of something else.
His attention shifted to Yu Nan, and a smile appeared on his face. With that fellow here, this young master doesn’t even have to step out here.
Sure enough, Yu Nan said, “You said you were the one who wrote this poem It wasn’t something plagiarized from someone else as your own”
That was what everyone else had been thinking as well.
After all, Zu An’s previous performance really had been a bit…
Zu An’s claim really was too hard for them to accept, so they subconsciously chose not to believe it.
Zu An raised his eyebrows. This guy is pretty sharp! But he would never admit to it.
Instead, he retorted “If I wasn’t the one who made it, were you the one who wrote it then If someone else had really written this poem, how could it possibly have been hidden for so long I’m sure it would already have spread throughout the world a long time ago.”
Those listening felt his explanation made sense as well.
If anyone could write something like this, they would have already been famous a long time ago.
There was no way they would wait to let someone else plagiarize them.
Even Yu Nan became uncertain.
But when he saw Zu An’s smug expression, he felt annoyed.
He had to obtain Lady Nan Xun today; he was going to get rid of anyone who stood in his way.
As such, he said coldly, “That’s hard to say.
Perhaps some down and out scholar gained enlightenment before they passed on, and you just happened to have heard it and took it for yourself.”
Yi Zhibing and the others immediately spoke up to support Yu Nan.
They all said his claim was reasonable.
The others present also nodded, finding the explanation plausible.
Zu An didn’t bother arguing and said with a smile, “In my opinion, you’re just jealous.
As expected, jealousy really changes a person.”
Yu Nan’s handsome face became somewhat red.
He replied, “This young master is jealous of you Hmph, since you said the poem is yours, where’s the rest of it You should know that, no”
This world’s literary culture hadn’t fully matured yet.
In his opinion, these two verses would already have used up all of a scholar’s talent.
Even if it were the original writer, they probably couldn't write anything better, let alone a plagiarist like Zu An.
A smile returned to his face when Yu Nan saw the strange expression on Zu An’s face.
“What’s wrong Are you going to tell me you didn’t have time to write the other verses”
The maid in the special room remarked excitedly, “Young miss, I was just going to say, how could that Zu guy have any ability Young master Yu is definitely right.”
“You just think he’s handsome.” The exceptional beauty rolled her eyes and directly exposed the maid.
However, her attention was also focused on Zu An; she was curious as to how he’d respond.
Zu An said with a smile, “I did indeed only think of only two verses back then, but since young master Yu is putting me on the spot, I just happened to think up the following verses.”
Su Shi, courtesy name Zizhan, art name Dongpo, was a Chinese scholar-official who was active as a poet, essayist, calligrapher and painter during the Song dynasty.
Su Shi is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished figures in classical Chinese literature, having produced some of the most well-known poems, lyrics, prose, and essays in history. ☜