T/N: Thank you patrons for sponsoring this chapter.
Title: The Dreamer in the Spring Boudoir
Chapter: 064 out of 513 – Half of five gold taels (1)
Ning Mingjie didn’t express an opinion to her words. When they reached the fifth floor, he found seats in the tearoom and sat down with Nie Sangyu. Muxu stood at their side.
On the fifth floor, there was an impressive painting and calligraphy exhibition and many scholars. There were people writing poems and bursts of cheers came from other people from time to time. There were also several clusters of two or three scholars that were discussing the paintings and calligraphy that were hanging on the walls.
A person that looked like a ceremonial official was standing in the center of the fifth floor. He announced to surrounding people, “The fifth floor is still missing one more poem for today. Is there any young master or lady that’s willing to contribute a poem?”
Ning Mingjie turned his head to briefly look and seemed quite interested. But, the woman sitting across from him was only quietly eating snacks. Her eyes hadn’t even flickered in that direction.
Ning Mingjie asked, “I heard that you’re pretty good at all four arts of the scholar.* Are you not interested in going up to try?”
*(T/N: The Four Arts are guqin (ancient musical instrument), Go, calligraphy, and painting.)
Nie Sangyu was from an aristocratic family. She would’ve had lessons in these areas since she was a child and should be pretty good in these arts.
Ji Man had been focused on eating the snacks. Hearing his words, she very indifferently and simply replied, “Poetry comes from the heart. Wouldn’t it be going against the core foundation of poetry to a compose a poem in order to seek fame?”
Ning Mingjie was stunned. He hadn’t expected that she would be able to say words like these. He immediately didn’t want to try anymore either.
In the center of the room, there were already a few scholars that had gone up to try writing poems. Ji Man didn’t even look at them. She was only thinking about how to continue promoting the relationship between her older brother and Errong later on.
Ning Mingjie was watching the scholars and couldn’t resist saying, “The person on the left wrote a pretty good poem.”
Ji Man finally turned around to look. A scholar had written a poem about how wonderful the country was. She twitched her mouth and objected, “I’ve read so many books and my favorite poems are Li Bai*’s unrestrained ones and Li Qingzhao*’s euphemistically ones. The poems up there aren’t up to par.”
* (T/N: Names of two very famous Chinese poets.)
“Oh?” Ning Mingjie was slightly interested. “Who are Li Bai and Li Qingzhao?”
Ji Man, “…”
How could she have forgotten? This was a made-up era. There were many areas where this world was different from history. Naturally, Li Bai, Du Fu, and Li Qingzhao didn’t exist in this world.
“The two of them are poets that live in the countryside. I was fortunate in being able to read a few of their poems and I thought they were pretty good.” Ji Man loudly laughed and skirted around his question.
Ning Mingjie slightly nodded. Looking at the crumb on the corner of her mouth, there was finally a hint of a smile in his eyes. But, he didn’t point this out to her.
“Are there any other young master or lady that’s willing to write a poem?” The ceremonial official called out. “If there’s no one else, we’ll start judging these poems. The winner will be awarded five gold taels by Louyan Pagoda and his or her poem will be hanged on the wall for others to admire.”
This was the oft referred to literary competition. Because of this tradition, Luoyan Pagoda attracted countless literati. For people with real talent, but had repeatedly failed their exams, they were able to come here and earn enough for food.
However, Ning Mingjie shook his head. For people like them, who were from aristocratic families, Luoyan Pagoda’s direct reward of gold taels was considered tacky. He had originally still wanted to try, but now he completely dismissed this idea.
Just as he turned his head back to ask Nie Sangyu when she wanted to continue going up the pagoda, he saw that the person sitting across from him had already disappeared.
Startled, Ning Mingjie looked at the nearby servant girl.
Muxu noticed his gaze, covered her face, and pointed at the platform in the middle of the room.
Ji Man had simply moved too quickly. As soon as she heard there was a monetary reward, she moved so quickly that it seemed as if she had flew onto the stage. She picked up a brush and seriously said, “It would be too unreasonable to not display talent if you have it. Since this is a good opportunity to communicate with others, I’ll also come and write a poem?”
Ning Mingjie, “…”
What happened to the core foundation of poetry?
Since the people here didn’t know Li Bai, winning this competition would be easy. Ji Man easily picked up the brush and wrote out the title to her favorite poem, “Inviting you to drink wine”.
But, right as she was about to write, “Don’t”, she saw the crooked words that she had written with the brush and immediately scrunched up the paper she had written on as fast as lightning. Then, she turned her head and looked at Ning Mingjie with a burning gaze.
“What’s wrong?” Ning Mingjie had already stood up and walked to the platform without going up. Looking at the words on the crumpled paper on the ground, he couldn’t resist laughing.
“Young Master, can you write out the words that I say?” Ji Man crouched down and whispered guiltily, “My hand hurts…”
Ning Mingjie raised his eyebrows. Seeing her pitiful face, he decided to not ask any further questions. He flipped himself onto the platform and took the brush from her hand, “Tell me.”
“Don’t you see?
The water as it pours down from the Heavens and into the Yellow River,
It surges towards the sea and will never return again.
Don’t you see?
Your elderly parents’ sorrow as they look into the mirror and see white hair,
Their formerly fine black hair had turned as white as snow in their twilight years.
Humans should enjoy themselves fully when they have the opportunity,
Don’t show an empty golden goblet to the moon.
The heavens created me – I must naturally have a use,
A thousands coins have been spent, but they will return.
Slaughter and cook the sheep and cow for a happy feast,
We must drink at least three hundred cups of wine tonight.”