Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 2 Book of Xun – Chapter 69 Poem and Affection
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 69 Poem and Affection
“Not bad Gu Yu, you can recite a poem that I haven’t even taught you yet, you must be working really hard on your own,” said Wen Jiubo. “But, do you understand the implicit meaning conveyed in this poem?”
I nodded hesitantly. “In this poem, Wen Tingyun describes the feelings that a lovesick woman has towards her lover at midnight. The second half of the poem conveys this woman’s never-ending longing for her lover by describing her surroundings.”
“Don’t try to fool me by using a standardized explanation.” Unexpectedly, Wen Jiubo wasn’t satisfied with my answer. He slightly shook his head. “Gu Yu, you aren’t that woman and weren’t with the poet when he wrote this poem so how could you know what he thought at that time?”
My mind went blank for a bit, I didn’t expect Wen Jiubo would ask me a question like this. However, I still tried to answer him seriously.
“Isn’t that obvious? It was raining late at night, the woman could hear the sound it made as it dropped on the plantain leaves, which indicated that she must have been sleepless all night long. She sat in front of the house alone with tears on her face. You can feel from each word of this poem that this woman must be in love and missed someone very much.”
The classroom suddenly became weirdly quiet. I looked around, wondering if I had said something weird. Then, I heard Wen Jiubo sigh before opening his mouth.
“Gu Yu, you… are such a nice person.”
The whole class burst out laughing. I sat down with a flushed face, embarrassed.
“Humans, what an amazing species.”
Wen Jiubo and I walked side by side, wandering on the campus lawn. Not far from us was a beautiful mid-lake pavilion. The air was filled with the smell of wet dirt and freshly cut grass.
“Why did you suddenly say something like that,” I muttered, still angry at him about what happened during the morning class.
“Do you disagree?” Wen Jiubo looked at me and smiled. “It only has been millions of years since humans learned how to walk and stopped crawling on the muddy ground, but now they can see and appreciate this world from a perspective no other species has, they can feel empathy and can even resonate with it. Isn’t it amazing?”
I pouted my lips and said dryly, “No, I don’t think so. Probably because I’m a peasant, who only knows how to appreciate vulgar things. I’m not like you, who knows how to appreciate poetry.”
“Me? No, I know nothing about poetry.” Wen Jiubo shook his head and smiled. “The reason why I said that is because sometimes I can’t understand the things people write in their poems no matter how hard I try.”
“You can’t understand?” I was surprised. “But didn’t you give us a long speech during class?”
“I just copy them from materials, everyone can do it. However, I can’t fully understand their feelings through those words, unlike you.” Wen Jiubo smiled.
I looked at him in surprise. “No way? Is there anything in this world that you are not capable of?”
“Look, you did it again. I told you, I’m not god and I’m not omnipotent.” Wen Jiubo sighed.
“But…” You can’t understand the emotions these poems convey? How is that possible?
“For me, a leaf is a leaf, the rain is just the rain. A wutong tree is just an ordinary plant,” Wen Jiubo enunciated. “Those things have existed since the beginning of the world, as a link in the universe. For me, these things don’t have any particular meanings. Spring is not full of vitality, and there is no reason to be sad during autumn. Those feelings are forced onto nature by the subjective mind of humans.”
I opened my mouth but I was speechless. I never thought about it from Wen Jiubo’s perspective. I, like any other human, took it for granted since I was born.
“On the other hand, I have never understood human emotions.” Wen Jiubo smiled lightly. “What is love, what is hate, where is the boundary, what’s the difference, I never seem to understand. So many people are willing to sacrifice their lives for love and do stupid things. Their strength and power driven by their emotions amaze me. But I have never understood that feeling.”
“Frankly, me neither,” I looked at Wen Jiubo and blurted out. “Love and hate, those things, most humans don’t understand them either. I have never experienced death nor have I experienced love or hate. Those things might only exist in TV dramas and novels. I have never fallen in love with someone, not to mention have those dramatic moments. Actually, you don’t need to overthink, just look around you.”
Wen Jiubo glanced in the direction where I was looking at. It was break time now and many students holding textbooks in their arms passed by. Among them, there were close friends or couples. They were walking hand in hand, smiling and talking.
“As a matter of fact, in real life, they may not understand what is love or hate,” I shrugged before saying. “Most of them are busy living their lives. They may think which class they will take this afternoon or what they want to eat for dinner tonight, something like that. Human life is boring, many of those people just live through their daily routines. But life is probably so boring that every emotional outbreak is precious. I don’t know what you’re trying to understand… but even if an outstanding person like you can’t understand it, there will be no chance for me to fully understand either. However, I don’t mind working with you to try and figure it out. After all, we have a long life ahead of us.”
I didn’t know which sentence I said to him touched him, but the minute I finished talking, his expression had changed completely.
I don’t know why but the way he looked at me suddenly became different. I could see the heat and eagerness in his eyes.
“Gu Yu.” He abruptly came closer and said sincerely, “Can I kiss you?”
My face immediately flushed and I pushed him away without hesitation. “No! Get away from me.”
“This is school!”
“Oh, I see. So I can kiss you outside of school?”
“No, I didn’t say that! Don’t twist my words!”
“Em — Did I?”
“Get away from me! Or I will go to the headmaster and say that you sexually harassed a student!”
【Second Book – Book of Xun End】