Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
A young Chinese, Han Fook, is possessed by the desire to perfect himself in the art of poetry. Despite his youth, he has already written poems and is respected by the learned men of his province. He is a handsome youth whose loving parents have recently arranged a marriage for him with a beautiful and virtuous girl. Nevertheless, Han Fook is not satisfied; his heart is still filled with the longing to become an accomplished poet.
One evening a lantern festival is being celebrated beside the river. From the opposite shore, Han Fook watches the guests arriving and sees a thousand lights shimmering on the water, reflections from the lanterns. The sounds of zithers and flutes drift toward him, and the night sky appears to hover over the festival like a temple. As much as he wants to join the festivities with his bride-to-be, so much more does he want to remain here, to observe, to take in the scene until he is able to express what he sees in a perfect poem. He realizes that he will always be a lonely spectator of life, and his only true happiness will come if he is able to capture all of life in poetry; only in this way can he possess life.
As he stands entranced, he hears a rustling noise and turns to see an elderly man in purple robes leaning against a tree. Han Fook greets him with the respect that is due an elder. The old man smiles and recites several verses that express in beautiful lyric forms the very thoughts that have been in Han...
(The entire section is 1073 words.)
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