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Poems read at remembrance service for Yu Kwang-chung in Kaohsiung

2018/04/26 21:19:16

Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀, front, seventh right)

Kaohsiung, April 26 (CNA) National Sun Yat-sen University held a memorial service Thursday at which poems by renowned poet Yu Kwang-chung (余光中) were read and songs using his poems as lyrics sung in a heart-warming gathering to remember the professor who passed away late last year.

Ever since joining the university's humanities faculty in 1985, Yu was an iconic figure, said school president, Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀).

Cheng recalled once seeing a car speeding past him on campus. As he was wondering who at the seaside school would drive so fast, he saw Professor Yu step out of the car.

"It later dawned on me why he was driving so fast after Mrs. Yu (Fan Wo-tsun) told me her husband had tried to become a race car driver and a music conductor," Cheng said.

It was this information that prompted the faculty to present Yu with a "Furious 7" model car as a gift on his 89th birthday, celebrated as his ninth decade as in Chinese custom.

"One professor went as far as to take Yu on a fast ride in a racing car, to relive the dream of his younger days," Cheng said.

Soon after his arrival at the university, Yu wrote a popular poem "Xizi Bay is Waiting for You" which became an important recruitment advertisement for the university, Cheng told participants, including Yu's widow Fan Wo-tsun (范我存), daughter Yu Yu-shan (余幼珊), former students, colleagues and many admirers.

The famous writer and poet, who was born in 1928 in Nanjing and moved to Taiwan in 1950, died on Dec. 14, 2017 in Kaohsiung at the age of 89, after having taught at the southern Taiwan university for 37 years.

Singers Christine Hsu (許景淳) and Chen Yung-lung (陳永龍) sang such famous poems as "Folksong Singers," "Burial of Stars" and "Four Rhymes of Nostalgia," the latter a masterpiece that is widely acclaimed in ethnic Chinese communities around the world.

AI robot Zenbo's reading of "Four Rhymes of Nostalgia" and "Rain, Falling on Kaohsiung Port" was a notable part of proceedings.

Local elementary and high school students went onto the stage to read Yu's poems "Luoyang Bridge," "The Evening at Maliaoshui," "Taitung" and "What are the Raindrops Saying."

Former colleagues and students such as Professor Kao Tien-en (高天恩) of National Taiwan University and Shan Te-hsing (單德興), a research fellow at Academia Sinica, also talked about shared moments with the poet.

His wife, Fan Wo-tsun, thanked the school for providing her husband with the fertile ground in which to develop his literary works, many of which were presented by arts lovers in different styles today.

"I'm deeply moved by all of you. Although my husband is no longer with us, I believe he must have enjoyed your beautiful performances very much in heaven."

A prolific and versatile writer, Yu published 80 books of prose, poetry and other genres, some of which were used as textbooks in high schools and universities in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

He was lauded in literary circles for his "unrivaled achievement in writing poems with his right hand and prose with his left hand."

His writings were also an inspiration in the folk song movement in Taiwan, having been adopted as songs by musicians Lee Tai-hsiang (李泰祥), Lo Ta-yu (羅大佑) and the father of Taiwan folk music Yang Hsien (楊弦).

Yu also received several major literary awards in Taiwan, including the National Awards of Art in Poetry in 1989 and the Executive Yuan Culture Award in 2014, for his longstanding contribution to the enrichment of the local artistic and creative landscape.

(By Cheng Chi-feng and S.C. Chang)