185 Poetry and the Artis

    The next day, Yujia ran across Yu Zixu. She found him in Lingxin's private library when she went there in the morning to study. There were three days left before her deadline of a week to please her master with her artistic improvement, so studying always helped.

    Normally, she liked to wake up early to go to the library because it meant that no other disciples were there. Though they were all her senior brothers, she wasn't close with most of them and only talked to a few individuals like Jiang Muyun. Also, it seemed like the pestering Rong Yuan, who also, sadly, happened to be a fellow disciple, heard that Yujia frequented the library. So now, on a few occasions, she ran into him.

    That was why Yujia always went in the morning now. She figured out Rong Yuan and her master were both pretty similar in terms of their schedule: neither of the two liked to wake up early.

    When she opened the door and walked in, noticing the presence of someone else, Yujia was a little disappointed. She liked studying alone, but now there was another person here. She could only pray that it wasn't Rong Yuan, who she was now trying to avoid like the plague after her past few encounters with him.

    Stepping a little closer, however, she recognized this individual's face between the spacing of the shelves- and thank the heavens, it wasn't Rong Yuan. Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com  for visiting.

    The person was Zixu, all focused on a book that he had pulled off the shelf. His attention was completely absorbed in the book- his eyebrows knitted, head tilted down, and lips pressed together.

    Now that she knew who it was, she didn't quite mind his presence. A mischievous smile surfaced on her lips, and Yujia crouched and crept over silently to Zixu's shelf, on the other side of where he was standing. Then, she leapt up, fitting her face in the open space that showed Zixu's, exclaiming, "Surprise!"

    Zixu didn't even flinch. He slowly looked up after finishing the sentence he had been reading, blinking when he saw her face. "Oh. Junior Sister. I didn't expect to see you here."

    "Aw, you're no fun," Yujia complained with a sigh, dropping her hands and walking over to Zixu's side. "You didn't get scared by me at all? Or surprised?"

    "I heard you the moment you opened the door. There was no surprise factor," he answered straightforwardly.

    Rolling her eyes, Yujia hummed, "I'm going to catch you unaware someday. Just you wait."

    At this, Zixu closed his book, looking over. His gaze seemed perfectly serious, but Yujia noticed that his lips were curled up in amusement. "I'll look forward to that day, if it ever arrives."

    "What are you reading?" Yujia inclined her head over, trying to read the title, which was half covered by Zixu's sleeve.

    Zixu moved his sleeve aside. "Just studying some poetry. I need to improve more for the imperial examination."

    Yujia nodded thoughtfully. In one of her discussions with Ye Yunhe, she found out that they were holding an irregular palace examination that would come up soon. Contrary to the normal examinations, usually held in the first month of the year, this irregular examination occured because the Emperor wanted to find new talents. Unlike normal tests, which covered more specific fields, the irregular examination would be very diverse in topics. Thus, though it made it more challenging to score better results for these tests, the rewards were greater. Many were interested in earning themselves a first or second-rank graduate title.

    She also found out from Yunhe that despite the fact that Lingxin Academy seemed like a very specialized school for art, there were many esteemed scholars as teachers and resources for all students too. The focus of Lingxin was on art and calligraphy, but each year, they submitted plenty of successful students to the examinations. Hence, this allowed the school to stand at the same level as other renowned schools, such as Taixue, Guojian, and the Four Gates School.

    Lingxin also stood out not only as a result of its success, but also because of its method of acceptance. Students who wanted to enroll in Taixue, Guojian, and Four Gates must come from families with officials above rank eight. Meanwhile, Lingxin did not discriminate between ranks, letting talent, not family background, dictate an individual's ability to enroll. This complemented the beliefs of the Emperor, so Lingxin was widely known as the Emperor's favorite academy.

    When examination season came along, Lingxin always provided any students who were interested in taking exams plenty of resources and teachers. For people like Zixu, who became disciples of the masters at Lingxin, they would be allowed to use even more resources to study, such as Lingxin's private library, which had more materials than the public one.

    Yujia looked at the current shelf Zixu was looking at books from. Judging from the titles, they all had something to do with poetry. She didn't know if they would test an individual's poetry skills in the examination, but since Zixu was studying for it, they probably would.

    "You were paying a lot of attention to this book when I walked in," she noted.

    "Yes," Zixu agreed, "I do like poetry quite a bit. These," he glanced down at his book, "are poems from Tao Yuanming. His work focuses on the plain simplicity of the natural world's beauty. I think that the things he writes might resonate with you more than me, actually. He talks about wine quite a bit."

    Zixu gave her a wry smile that she returned with a laugh.

    Wine. Of course that would resonate with her.

    Yujia recognized Tao Yuanming, however. In the future, many centuries later, he would be recorded as one of the great poets. She had read quite a few of his poems in her past life. He also wrote an influential piece about an utopia, Peach Blossom Spring. This piece of prose would be renowned as well.

    "There's one particular poem that I was focused on," Zixu said, flipping to the page he was just at. They were the five poems of Returning to Gardens and Fields. Then he read them out loud.

    "At the gate and courtyard-no murmur of the World's dust:

    In the empty rooms-leisure and deep stillness.

    Long I lived checked by the bars of a cage:

    Now I have turned again to nature and freedom."

    "This entire poem resonates with me, but these lines conclude it all very well," Zixu considered, thinking his thoughts out loud. "It adds onto the layers and depth of the entire work. If I were to write a poem for the examination, I would like to write something similar to this, though of course- it wouldn't be quite at this level. Tao Yuanming's work is truly great."

    Yujia smiled. "I trust that you have the capability to."

    As she said so, she couldn't help thinking back to the full poem set. She read it before and even memorized it for class. Those lines just read aloud may resonate with Zixu, but what Yujia thought back to upon seeing the poem were its previous lines, unspoken:

    "The migrant bird longs for the old wood:

    The fish in the tank thinks of its native pool."
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