# 19. Farewell Poem Outskirts of the Capital, Mianyang[^1] Pavilion! A few luxurious carriages were parked beside the pavilion. The outskirts were cold and windy and the cascading hills were light brown in colour. The sun hung in the sky, giving off the weak warmth of the early winter. Residential Scholar Ziyang[^2] of Yunlu Academy[^3] was going to become an official. This was a joyous event for Yunlu Academy, whose presence in officialdom was declining. The Scholars from the academy sang festively, and the students felt that the early status of the academy was about to resurge. In the pavilion, three old men sat together while drinking tea. One of them was wearing a purple robe and had silvery white hair. He was the protagonist of the event. Yang Gong[^4], courtesy name Ziqian, title Ziyang Jushi, was the *zhuangyuan*, top scorer in the imperial examinations of the 14th year of Yuanjing. In the year after, he left his official post and returned to Yunlu Academy to study. After 22 years, He had students all over the world and had become a famous scholar. He should have had a bright future; even becoming the Prime Minister was not out of the question, however he left the officialdom quietly at his prime. There were several theories regarding his resignation from officialdom. Some major theories were that he had offended the Emperor and had to leave his job. Some others said he had offended the First Secretary, and eventually left after being unable to handle the retribution. Whatever the reason might be, he went out of the mountain after 22 years to go to Qingzhou as the chief envoy, the head office of the frontier region. Whatever that reason might be, 22 years later he again came down from the mountain, reading to go to Qingzhou, as its Governor. A true case of a great official, being sent far away into the country. The other two weren't insignificant characters themselves; their reputation wouldn't lose to Scholar Ziyang either in the academy or the outside world. The man wearing the grey robe and with a goatee was named Li Mubai[^5]. He was once the best Go player in the world. He once had three matches with Duke Wei Yuan of the Nightwatchers five years ago, losing spectacularly, and smashing the Go board that day, never played the game again. The blue-robed man was called Zhang Shen[^6], he was a master in the art of war. The *Six Notes on the Art of War* written in his early years was still a compulsory read for military officials and generals today. He was also the only military strategist that could ever compete with Wei Yuan. Outside the pavilion, The students who were seeing the scholar were standing in a crowd. These students were all students with potential from Yunlu Academy. Xu Xinnian was also in the crowd of students. "Scholar Ziyang is finally out of the mountain. If we are appreciated by him, We would be successful in officialdom in the future.", A familiar classmate whispered, "Ciju, You have written a poem, right?" *My brother prepared it for me... But it's half of a qiyan lüshi[^7]...* Xu Xinnian looked into the pavilion and whispered, "I've prepared half a poem. Yongshu, You're too utilitarian." Qilü poems had a strict metric and required a uniform number of characters in the poem. They consisted of eight sentences with seven characters each, and every two sentences form a verse for a total of four verses. Xu Qi'an only gave him only the first two verses of the Qilü. When Xu Xinnian asked for the remaining verses after dinner, he hesitated and shifted the subject, and didn't give them. "This isn't being utilitarian. The sea of learning is the same as officialdom, Working hard to make a boat isn't as good as joining a camp for warmth.[^8]", The friend said, knowing that Xu Xinnian wasn't good at poetry. "Yongshu is correct. The officialdom is too corrupt now. You have to cooperate with corrupt officials to help the common people in this environment. They've been suffering under natural disasters for years and changing their situation can only be done if you are active." Another student participated in their conversation. The student named Yongshu nodded and looked at Xu Xinnian, "You always say that poetry is a small way, but no one will remember you based on your prose after decades. But good poetry can be spread throughout the world." *Poetry is a small way. It can not be used to govern the country nor to benefit the people. It's a mere art...* Xu Erlang wanted to say these words but swallowed them back, and gave off a hum once he realized that he was about to use the same art to please a senior. Yongshu looked at him in surprise, since he didn't even object. The famous Go player Li Mubai sighed, "Brother Yang, If you were even half as smooth as them back in the day, you wouldn't waste more than 20 years." Ziyang Jushi smiled upon hearing these words. "That's not right", Master of War Zhang Shen laughed and drank tea, "Brother Yang is ambitious, and is paving way for the realm of 'Mandate Seeker'" Upon hearing this, Ziyang Jushi sighed "After all, I was pushed out of the officialdom." "That wasn't your problem. The people from the Imperial Academy won't sit idling by as our White Deer Academy turns over." "Hmph, those bastards who only know how to flatter superiors and deceive others while playing tricks have harmed the world to this state in less than 200 years." This matter involved a very interesting historical anecdote. Confucianism originated from the Sage. The White Deer Academy, being an academy founded by the disciple of the sage, naturally promoted itself as the orthodox school of Confucianism. This fact was true. But 200 years ago, due to the struggle for the throne, the contemporary emperor rejected the Academy. Around that time, a traitor left White Deer Academy and took the opportunity to please the emperor by setting himself up with the concept of "Following Heaven’s Nature and Eliminating Human Desires". With the emperor's support, he established the Imperial Academy and became a master of a generation. After that incident, Imperial Academy replaced White Deer Academy to become the main school that produced court officials. This struggle for the orthodoxy of Confucianism has continued for 200 years. Ziyang Jushi said deeply, "I'm going to open up the frontier region as the foundation of the official careers of our students. But, if we want to rejuvenate the academy to its past stature, I'm not enough. I need to work together with a lot of excellent young people." Li Mubai and Zhang Shen smiled at each other. Then, The latter turned his head and looked at the students outside the pavilion "Is anyone willing to compose a poem and give it to Ziyang Jushi?" "Poetry contests should have a prize, otherwise the contest would be boring." Ziyang Jushi took off a purple jade pendant from his waist, "The best poet can get this jade pendant." The purple light in the jade pendant was flowing. It looked quite extraordinary. The eyes of the students outside the pavilion lit up; the jade pendant carried around by a Great Scholar would have magical effects, due to being nurtured by their Literary Qi. If they could acquire one, It would certainly be of great benefit to them. At the same time, Ziyang Jushi used the purple jade as the prize, which had a deeper meaning. The items regularly carried by an elder were usually only given as a gift to their juniors and students. So, Taking the pendant meant that you were related to him ... or were his student. "This student is willing to write a poem to see off Ziyang Jushi." A tall and straight student wearing a green Confucian robe and a jade pendant around his waist stepped out and arched his hands towards the three Confucian Great Scholars in the pavilion. Li Mubai said smilingly, "This is my student Zhu Tuizhi. He's quite talented in poetry." Ziyang Jushi smiled and nodded. After the student named Zhu Tuizhi chanted his farewell poem, the smile on the face of Ziyang Jushi deepened, seemingly very satisfied. "Not bad, Not bad", War Master Zhang Shen praised him and didn't comment much. The other two great scholars were more talented in poetry than he. But a good beginning didn't necessarily lead to a good ending. The next part of the poem could probably be described to be like a dog's tail. The latter part of the poem wasn't satisfactory, and barely qualified. Li Mubai sighed, “Since the Imperial Academy re-compiled the saint's classics and advocated the theory of following the heavens and eliminating human desires, the students of the world have stuck to the classics and buried their heads in their contents. Over time, they would fall into the situation of ‘Shackled Thinking and Cumbersome Writing’ and lose their spirituality.” As he spoke those last few words, suddenly a pang ached in his heart. That was the reason why Confucianism began to weaken in modern times. 200 years ago, the Confucianists said: “Buddhism isn't bad. Taoism isn't that bad. Aye, Arcanists are also not bad too. Shamans and Warlocks who pioneered another path are worthy of praise... As to the vulgar martial artists, please, leave; this is a gathering of cultured peoples. Oh, and take the yaoguai and the other races out with you too if you please. Now, as to my fine gentlemen sitting here before me, you’re all trash!” Confucianism was as such back then. Now, You say? Major Cultivation systems: What is it, Little brother? Confucianism, trembling: mmp.[^9] Ziyang Jushi sighed, "Don't mention these matters. Who else would like to compose a poem?" No one had the courage for a while. Zhu Tuizhi stared at the purple pendant with hot eyes and felt as if it was already his. "Sir, I have a poem." Xu Xinnian walked out of the crowd and went to the pavilion. He had been silent until now with purpose. He's very low-key and humble and didn't want to recite a good poem too early in that his classmates wouldn't be embarrassed. This didn't have anything to do with his earlier arguments with Zhu Tuizhi. --- [^1]: “Soft Sheep” [^2]: 紫阳居士 [^3]: Inconsistently “White Deer Academy”, or “Cloud Deer Academy”, the latter is used more often. [^4]: 杨恭,字子谦 [^5]: 李慕白 [^6]: 张慎 [^7]: The eight-line seven syllable poem structure [^8]: Chinese saying, 苦做舟,钻营为浆 [^9]: mmp, 妈卖屁, a Chinese curse, which, to put it bluntly, means “Your mum’s a whore.”