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The nonchalant flaunt

Posted June. 02, 2023 08:00,   

Updated June. 02, 2023 08:00


An 80-year-old man takes an 18-year-old concubine and plays smartly. For example, the absurd logic, such as reversing the concubine's age, makes her the same age as him and states the fact that the age difference between the two is only “60 years.” Such a poem is called “Poem for Fun” and has the effect of adding luster to life because it has a rich taste of humor and satire rather than literary value. Although it is less poetic, it is a kind of impromptu poem that is exchanged as a joke among close friends.

Poet Su Shi, who happened to be there, responded with a humorous temperament to the old man's dubious but natural bragging. ‘An 18-year-old bride and an 80-year-old groom, the gray-haired man is sitting before a blushing face. The night when mandarin ducks paired up in a blanket could be likened to a pear tree crushing a sweet flower’ (‘Gifting it to Zhang Xian a joke’). White hair and white pear blossoms, which symbolize old age, and red eyes and red sweet flowers, which are symbols of youth, illustrate a clear contrast between the two. Both poems reveal the stark inequity between the old and the young with white and red colors. However, the two differ significantly because one uses the difference to show off his majestic pride. In contrast, the other implicitly satirizes the injustice or vanity of discrimination.

In fact, Su Shi was 45 years younger than Zhang Xian. Although they were 20 years older than his father, Su Xun, they both had easy-going and humorous personalities, so they were able to stay together as friends until later years. In particular, Zhang Xian is a person who laid the foundation for Cí, the representative literature of the Song Dynasty. Even though the two seemed good-humored toward one another, Su Shi admired Zhang Xian as “a teacher who taught and enlightened me for my creations.”