An analysis of the dead chinese poet

It is difficult to meet as it is difficult to part,
The north wind has weakened; hundreds of flowers fade way,
When the Spring worms die, the silk shall never come again,
When the candle wax becomes ash, tears shall stop.

This poem by Li Shangyin (813-858 AD) is recited by a dead chinese poet in the mortuary. I reproduce here some comments made by Brian H and Zyan in the newsgroup in Feb2000.

It is difficult to meet as it is difficult to part,

Brian: When you love someone that you can't love, or you shouldn't love, you'll find that it is difficult to meet him/her; Once you meet him/her, you'll find it difficult for you to say "part" to him/her.

Zyan: This is my guess. I did not know if Li Sangyin was married when he wrote this poem. Anyway, my version. The Tang Dynasty during his time, there are 2 main parties, Li and Niu, fighting for power. Li belongs to the Niu party but he fell in love with the daughter of of an official from the Li party.....well, you know the rest.

The north wind has weakened; hundreds of flowers fade way,

Brian: First, "north wind" should be "east wind". East wind brings warmth and moist to China. When it is weakened, flowers started to fade away, a sorrowful scene.

Zyan: There is a deeper meaning to this. There are 2 versions that I know of. The first version is that the "east wind" represents the government (or emperor). Since it is weak, the citizens suffered. It is an indirect lament at the state of the weak government. (BTW, it's the Tang Dynasty....well, LATE Tang Dynasty).

The second meaning is that the poet is lamenting about his own life and fate, that he did not meet any "east wind" to allow him to use his talents to the fullest and maybe allow him to be with his love. The "east wind" here could mean mentor, benefactor or opportunity.

I like the second meaning better, flows with the rest of the theme, which is about LOVE.

When the Spring worms die, the silk shall never come again,

Brian: It is balanced with line 4 for supporting purpose. It is more appropiate to state clearly that the "spring worms" are "silk worms in Spring", and "the silk" changed to "their silk".

Zyan: Line 3 and 4 and the most famous lines of this poem. The first 2 lines has a more touching and moving feel to it, a lingering nostalgia to it. The next 2 lines are more solemn and aching, to reflect the pain and torment.

When the candle wax becomes ash, tears shall stop.

Brian. Do you think candle drops like tears? When the candle is burnt out, all its candle drops (tears) turn dry. The last 2 lines here represent sorrow, or, more likely the designers want to indicate, torment (silk and tears) will only stop when the objects to create them (silk worms, candle, and in the case of torment, YOU) die.

Zyan: Good analogy with the game!

It is difficult to meet as it is difficult to part,
The north wind has weakened; hundreds of flowers fade way,
When the Spring worms die, the silk shall never come again,
When the candle wax becomes ash, tears shall stop.

Brian: So the whole meaning is roughly like this. The poet loved someone he can't love or shouldn't love. This creates tremendous sorrow and torment to him. His sorrow and torment will bear with him forever until his life goes to an end.

Zyan: One version of the explanation is definitely this way! Problem with Li's poems are that of all the poets during the Tang Dynasty, his have the most hidden meanings and stories. Have something to do with the political climate then and also his personality.

Brian: The poem reflects the theme of the game. What can I say? The designers must really love this game otherwise they wouldn't put such a minute detail inside. Fortunately, at least I am here to appreciate your efforts!

Brian: I know only the first 4 lines of this poem. Actually this poem has 8 lines. The last 4 lines, however, are very difficult to understand.

Zyan: I am not going to translate the last four lines as they are quite difficult to translate. There are references to mythological figures and creatures etc. Anyway, there is already official translated version of it.

Platter: here is a better translation of the poem, including the second half which was not included because it makes no sense due to cultural references.

It is hard to meet; it is hard to part; 
The east wind is weak, the flowers die. 
With the spring silkworm's death, the threads end; 
When the candle turns to ash, the teardrops dry. 
The morning mirror frowns on my newly cloudy hair; 
Reading poems at night, feel the moon's cold stare. 
The Magic Mountain is not so far from here; 
A busy green bird will keep a careful eye.

No mystical geek controls my actions

Hong Ooi wrote this in the newsgroup in Jan2000. "I wonder what the game would have been like if the Transcendent One had had this attitude. I mean, surely the portentous, self-aggrandising villain has been done to death, yeah? I can see it now:"

[scene: The Fortress of Regrets. The Nameless One has successfully defeated the three incarnations and is now standing on the rooftop. Facing him is the ghostly green figure of the Transcendent One. Dialogue ensues.]

at last we meet, nameless one. I had great fun killing everyone i met While chasing you across the planes. You should try it some time.

But why? Why did you do it?

because I can. I'm like, you know, a god. I can do anything. Hey, remember that uppity Fall-From-Grace's head exploding in Carceri? That was me. Who'da guessed there'd be so much blood in that horned head of hers?

What? That was you? You bastard!

Yup, that was me. But you gotta admit, having it explode just when she'd finished saying that you were safe, was a nice touch. See, any old god can make someone's head explode, but it takes skill to do it Properly.

Wait just a minute... aren't you supposed to be talking in a more, uh, stately manner? You don't really sound like what I was expecting.

Everyone thinks that gods are supposed to talk like that. I hate it, though.


It's supposed to sound grave and majestic, but it's not really me. Who wants to sound like a thousand-year-old sanctimonious windbag anyway? I figure, if I got the power, I can talk any fucking way I want. Are you going to try and stop me?

No, no... but why did you kill Fall-from-Grace? Or do all those evil things?

Who died and made you god? Actually, I can answer that: you're dead, and I'm god. Ha ha! Laugh, damn you.

Er... ha. Ha.

And why shouldn't I be evil? I'm an adult, I can think for myself. I want to have fun being evil, that's my right. It's a free multiverse, you know.

Great. I go through countless deaths and reincarnations, slog my way through Hell, just to find out my mortality is a sociopath. No endgame is worth this.

You're just jealous cos' I can make heads explode and you can't.

You've got to be kidding.

And who are you calling a sociopath? Now take your 'Practical Incarnation': he was a sociopath. A coldly calculating megalomaniac who ruthlessly sacrificed innocents to achieve his goals. I can't be a sociopath because I'm just doing this for fun.

Okay then: how can you have fun doing this? Don't you care about other people? What kind of monster are you?

What other people? This is just a game. None of it is real. Your 'people' are nothing more than data structures with scripts attached to them. Complicated scripts, I grant you, but that doesn't make them real.

Well, there is such a thing as suspension of disbelief, you know.

Bah. If I went in for this 'suspension of disbelief' nonsense, I'd have done a degree in lit crit.

I can see your point of view in a game like Quake or Might & Magic or Baldur's Gate, but the characters in Torment, the writing, the storyline... it's just so powerful you can't help but feel it's real. Surely you have to agree.

Nope. It's still a game, games are not real, therefore torment is not real. Therefore I can do anything I want, including being evil. End of argument.

Lots of other people don't seem to have a problem believing the game is real.

That's because they're sappy idiots who like deluding themselves. Things are either real or not real, and belief has nothing to do with it.

But literature—art—fiction—it's all based on believing that not-real things are real.

Yeah, and it's all a load of horseshit. That sort of thinking is a fast track to failure in my line of work.

Let me guess, you failed English at high school, didn't you?

How did you know that? Oh, that's right, you're me. Well, it's not my fault. The teachers all hated me. I knew they were talking bull and they knew that I knew. They kept giving me Fs simply because they weren't able to refute my arguments in a logical and consistent manner. I'm still waiting for someone to give me a good reason to take The Catcher In The Rye seriously.

Um, because it's a good book?

Says you. And none of it is real, so who cares?

Forget it. Look, uh, have you realised that if you're correct, then you're not real either?

Of course I'm real. I'm talking to you, aren't I?

Yes, but you're a part of the game too. Right now, your actions are being decided by a geek sitting at a keyboard scratching his nose. Ew, and now he's picking his nose; how gross. He's the one who chooses the words coming out of your mouth. You only think you're a god, but you're not, really.

Your words don't make sense. Kid, I've lived from one end of time to the other and I've seen a lot of strange things (and killed most of them) and I haven't seen anything to make me believe there's an all-powerful geek. Because no mystical geek controls my actions.

Uh... do you realise where that came from?

From me, of course. I'm the master of all I survey. I'm also a little teapot, short and stout.

Er... are you all right?

Of course I'm all right. Bleep! Wurble! There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow...

Oh, shit.

Etaoin shrdlu! The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

Let's get out of here... before someone pushes the reset button.

Mwahahaha! What reset button? I see no reset button. If there's a reset button I dare whoever's typing this to p


P.S. Morte can learn new curses from these: Craddock (SW Hive, warehouse boss), Any Hive Harlot, Brokah and Miccah, Kimasxi Addertongue, The Screaming Stone Statue.