Literary wordplay

One for readers of Chinese!

The final page of Li Qing’s Xiewu ke manual gives this ingenious poem about the Eight Immortals:

baxian-poem

each pair of “characters” making up a seven-word line (4 +3):

鐘離鉆石把扇搖
果老騎驢趙州橋
洞濱負劍清風客
國舅瑤池玉品簫
彩和手執雲楊板
拐李先生得高道
仙姑來俸長生酒
相子花籃獻蟠桃

This is nothing to do with their ritual practice. Though the composite characters may look at first sight like talismans, any cultured reader would enjoy reading (and deciphering) the poem.

Li Manshan enjoys such word games, and puts me onto others like this:

screen-shot-2017-01-20-at-10-35-10

to be read thus:

半夜三更門半開
小姐等到月西斜[1]
山高路遠無口信
哭斷肝腸少人来

Variant versions of both can be found online.

[1] 到 to be substituted for the implied 倒:“upturned 等 turned back up”

3 thoughts on “Literary wordplay

  1. Pingback: Eating lions | Stephen Jones: a blog

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