1.10.2008

Chinese "Tapestry Poem" Palindrome

    琴清流楚激弦商秦曲发声悲摧藏音和咏思惟空堂心忧增慕怀惨伤仁
    芳廊东步阶西游王姿淑窕窈伯邵南周风兴自后妃荒经离所怀叹嗟智
    兰休挑林阴翳桑怀归思广河女卫郑楚樊厉节中闱淫遐旷路伤中情怀
    凋翔飞燕巢双鸠土迤逶路遐志咏歌长叹不能奋飞妄清帏房君无家德
    茂流泉情水激扬眷颀其人硕兴齐商双发歌我兖衣想华饰容郎镜明圣
    熙长君思悲好仇旧蕤葳粲翠荣曜流华观冶容为谁感英曜珠光纷葩虞
    阳愁叹发容摧伤乡悲情我感伤情徵宫羽同声相追所多思感谁为荣唐
    春方殊离仁君荣身苦惟艰生患多殷忧缠情将如何钦苍穹誓终笃志贞
    墙禽心滨均深身加怀忧是婴藻文繁虎龙宁自感思岑形荧城荣明庭妙
    面伯改汉物日我兼思何漫漫荣曜华雕旗孜孜伤情幽未犹倾苟难闱显
    殊在者之品润乎愁苦艰是丁丽壮观饰容侧君在时岩在炎在不受乱华
    意诚惑步育浸集悴我生何冤充颜曜绣衣梦想劳形峻慎盛戒义消作重
    感故昵飘施愆殃少章时桑诗端无终始诗仁颜贞寒嵯深兴后姬源人荣
    故遗亲飘生思愆精徽盛翳风比平始璇情贤丧物岁峨虑渐孽班祸谗章
    新旧闻离天罪辜神恨昭感兴作苏心玑明别改知识深微至嬖女因奸臣
    霜废远微地积何遐微业孟鹿丽氏诗图显行华终凋渊察大赵婕所佞贤
    冰故离隔德怨因幽元倾宣鸣辞理兴义怨士容始松重远伐氏妤恃凶惟
    齐君殊乔贵其备旷悼思伤怀日往感年衰念是旧愆涯祸用飞辞恣害圣
    洁子我木平根尝远叹永感悲思忧远劳情谁为独居经在昭燕辇极我配
    志惟同谁均难苦离戚戚情哀慕岁殊叹时贱女怀叹网防青实汉骄忠英
    清新衾阴匀寻辛凤知我者谁世异浮奇倾鄙贱何如罗萌青生成盈贞皇
    纯贞志一专所当麟沙流颓逝异浮沉华英翳曜潜阳林西昭景薄榆桑伦
    望微精感通明神龙驰若然倏逝惟时年殊白日西移光滋愚谗漫顽凶匹
    谁云浮寄身轻飞昭亏不盈无倏必盛有衰无日不陂流蒙谦退休孝慈离
    思辉光饬粲殊文德离忠体一违心意志殊愤激何施电疑危远家和雍飘
    想群离散妾孤遗怀仪容仰俯荣华丽饰身将与谁为逝容节敦贞淑思浮
    怀悲哀声殊乖分圣赀何情忧感惟哀志节上通神祗推持所贞记自恭江
    所春伤应翔雁归皇辞成者作体下遗葑菲采者无差生从是敬孝为基湘
    亲刚柔有女为贱人房幽处己悯微身长路悲旷感生民梁山殊塞隔河津


This is the Tapestry Poem mentioned in Flowers in the Mirror. Lin Tai-Yi provides this explanation in the Notes:
The Tapestry poem is the pride and joy of Li Ju-Chen. It is, unfortunately, impossible to translate. The poem may be read backwards and forwards, up and down, in squares, whorls, diagonally, and in a dozen other combinations.

So, it is not a palindrome in the sense that the lines read the same in every direction, but the characters are placed in sequence which has meaning in relation to those around it. Please comment if there is a more correct term!
Although I rue the day (age 5?) I told my dad I didn't want to learn Chinese anymore, and thus can't translate any of it, this website appears to list poems contained within the Tapestry. It was found in this post:
The story of this tapestry apparently predates the novel, going back as early as a story about a Jin dynasty woman who crafted the 841 character weaving with 200-odd poems. I don't know if the author of "The Flowers in the Mirror" used an existing matrix or wrote his own. The novel, in any event, abounds with jokes, old legends, and linguistic curiosities--there's a great joke about a man named Wang and how he names his eight sons, for example.

In re other qishi: Su Dongpo was a poet known for his palindromes, among other things.
Posted by: zhwj at May 11, 2004 10:23 PM

1 comment:

Grammy-Pants said...

Oh No! You said No! No! No! to the Chinese!! That sounds funny but I bet so many other kids make the same proclamation...

This is kind of weird, but I just googled "proclamation" to make sure I had spelled it correctly (I had), and this is the first thing which comes up on google:

Proclamations Issued by President Bush
Presidential proclamations to celebrate special days, weeks and months.
www.whitehouse.gov/news/proclamations/

I don't really like thinking about President Bush, but I like thinking about "Issuing Proclamations" and I had sort of forgotten about the use of that word in that kind of official proclamating way!

PS. Right now this spellchecker is underlining the word "proclamaing" and so perhaps this is a new verb!