Antithetical couplets & My two hours Insanity – Jilly’s July challenge.

These are my entries (Yup, plural. There are two, so take which one you think is better!)  for jilly’s July challenge to complete Colin Lee’s Antithetical couplets. Let me just say them  and my understanding behind them before I forget. Colin’s Part is in bold and mine are italicized.


The joy of the fish Whosoever

Would know

The view of the hao whoever

could see.

I quoted Zhuangzi from The Debate on the Joy of Fish.  He declared that he knew about the joy of fish by sitting on the top of the bridge over the hao River, hence someone who is watching the fish swim happily would know that they are indeed.. HappyRead about it in Wikipedia to get the full context.


The joy of the fish Whosoever

Would know

The sorrowful kite whenever

It returns.

Since the quote stole half of my line in my first attempt, I came up with another one. The fish is happy because it does what it supposed to do or what it wants to do or follow it’s heart. So the one who doesn’t get to do what he want to do would definitely know how good would it be to follow a dream, so I compared it kite’s sadness when it returns from it’s flight, which is what he was born to do! It might be bit farfetched, so feel free to share your opinion. Also if you can, clarify my doubt, that if it’s following all the five rules.


I’m telling you, I went to the edge of insanity trying to just understand what’s behind those two lines and TRYING to finish them was a task of it’s own.

The whole concept of metric system was a topic I have been avoiding for months and I had to learn it for this one. So I’m a bit fuzzy on the whole logic of it all, so I would be grateful if Colin could tell me if there’s any mistakes I did. I would also welcome Jilly and Charlie who already finished this challenge to share their insights.

To know all about this form and the whole philosophy behind, visit Colin’s post about it. It was beautiful and tremondously helpful.


19 thoughts on “Antithetical couplets & My two hours Insanity – Jilly’s July challenge.

  1. Colin’s dare tied my brain up in all kinds of knots, like Jane said! However, I feel like I am getting a little bit closer to understanding it with each attempt and with Colin’s responses. Your explanation of the kite helped me see what you meant by it. When I read it, I thought of the bird at first, who navigates the air much like a fish navigating the water, so there are multiple ways of viewing that one! If my understanding of the word Hao is correct, it means Good and that gives multiple meanings, too! Glad you joined in with this one. I’m also glad to see that you are attempting to complete every poem; so am I. There are 10 of us now and I have put a list of the links on the Challenge page.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I thought of bird at some point but decided to go with kite for some reason. I didn’t know that hao means God, it just gives an whole another meaning accidentally. Thanks for putting up a link, it was getting harder, navigating through all the comments. I don’t know if I can complete all ten, but it doesn’t hurt to try and it’s the most fun I’m having this month!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your offer, Jeren — and a double offer!

        Guys, I’m afraid the “hao” (濠) here isn’t as grand as you thought. It isn’t even a name of a river, but simply means a “moat”. The Chinese languages are all monosyllabic, meaning every utterable sound is taken up by dozens, if not hundreds, of homophones. That’s why tonal differentiation plays a significant role in minimising confusion: Mandarin-speakers use four tones, whereas we, speakers of Old Chinese, use nine. In Mandarin, “濠” is pronounced with a mid-rising tone (tone 2); “好” (good) is done with a low-dipping tone (tone 3). It would therefore be interesting to note that the dialogue was taken place outside the town’s gate, on a bridge over a moat, and that the wild carp (called sharpbelly) in that rather still water was kept for practical reasons (to prevent infestation), and not at all for decorative purposes.

        I like where your imagination has taken us, Jeren. The first one speaks of the appreciation of the water that gives us the fish’s joy. If I try to relate this philosophically, you’re looking from above the water, watching on from a realm of which the fish is naturally unaware. This interestingly, to me, seems to reframe the question to a transcendental pondering. Is there a supreme being to this world? Does this being sense our feelings as I do with the fish? Because this being can “see” it all from above? (Sorry if I’ve taken the interpretation/musing too far!)

        On the second one, I feel the bird might do too. A scissor-tail is usually referred to a swallow in Chinese, which in our literature always carries a romantic undertone, especially on the themes of seasons, marriage, family, etc. But, in English, a kite is a kite, a bird of prey. (Well … nevermind.) The paper kite’s sorrow seems an engrossing contrast to the fish’s joy. Thank you for sharing!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so much for your insights, Colin. They are tremendously helpful. I used hao as in river, because Wikipedia mentioned it as river, but now I know moat, it might make less beautiful in my mind because I always see moats as dirty with crocodile, either way it doesn’t change the meaning of what I wrote much. It’s great to see how the word kite gives two different feelings in two different languages. Speaking of languages, Wow! Nine tones, that sounds Amazing. I don’t know if I could ever pronounce all the nine tones of a same word. You can never take an interpretation too far, I love how it can be seen like a Supreme being watching us. When I wrote I quoted it as a direct reference to the dialogue of Zhuangzi, but it’s interesting to see the different ways it can be interpreted. Thank you once again for visiting and the challenge, Colin!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The same thing happens to me. I think my mind is now like a hair ball inside a cat’s stomach. But I had to try, because I determined to myself to go through all of the poems in that challenge.


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