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  • Writer's pictureJiayin Yuan

Departure and Reunion

As an international student, the past month has been a particularly difficult time for me as I had to decide whether or not I should stay on campus or return to home in China. There were a lot of uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, and the situation almost exacerbated overnight. I still remember the first day after the spring break, all my friends and I were still cheerfully making plans to hang out and have fun, but two days later the school already shut down and switched to online. Ever since the quarantine has started, most of my friends have already left the campus, and the sadness I felt while watching them leaving one after another became the inspiration for this poem, which I named "Departure."


Staring at the window,

I saw a little bus stop

where pedestrians quickly went by and no one stopped.

How many times have I stood next to that stop

with my dear friends,

waiting for the bus to come?

Looking at the empty stop,

my thoughts were brought back to the past,

when our joy and happiness was not shadowed by the pandemic.

Smiling and chatting,

we talked about what we will be buying.

Laughing and frolicking,

we decided what we will be eating.

But now--

My friends, one after one, have all gotten on the bus,

but they never returned.

I looked away from the window and sighed,

this human world is like a dream,

a surreal, feverish dream that I cannot run away.

For this poem, I was largely inspired by Su Shi's Meditation on the past at Red Cliff, in which the author looks at a physical place (the Red Cliff) while imagining its past. Here, I tried to model my poem on this style by bringing in a physical location--the bus stop next to my apartment--to imagine the old days that I spent with my friends when we took the bus at the stop to do grocery shopping or to go to restaurants. The last stanza in my poem is a direct reference to the line in Su Shi's poem "Yet this world is like a dream" because I wanted to end on a similar sentimental note.

Ever since its release on March 20, 2020, Animal Crossing New Horizon has become one of the most popular games across the globe. Its relaxing gameplay has allowed many people to enjoy their time at home and to connect with their friends online during this challenging time. I decided to purchase this game because most of my friends are now playing it, and while the experience is not the same, we were able to have a happy reunion together on one of my friends' islands. Because my first poem ends on a rather sad and depressing note, I thought I should make my second poem a more positive one based on my animal crossing experience and name it "Reunion."


Colorful fruits on the trees

where they were ready to be picked up.

Various insect tanks piled up on the ground,

waiting to be sent to the shop.

Cherry blossom trees started blooming,

the petals flying in the air.

Cute animals walking by,

they waved their hands excitedly and said Hi.

On this desert island, I saw my friends again--

now as fruit vendors and bug catchers.

"Welcome to my island!"

I heard they say.

This poem intends to model on Li Bai's The Old Airs XIV which starts with very vivid descriptions of sceneries before it switches its focus to people who have caused these sceneries. To imitate the style, I designated the first half of the poem to the sceneries of my friend's island in the game to give a positive and joyful atmosphere. Similarly, the later half moves on to focus on the people, depicting my reunion with my friend, in which we reunited with each other in the game as fruit vendors and bug catchers (these are the main sources of our in-game income). Amidst all the uncertainties and difficulties during this time, we could still connect with each other virtually on our desert islands.

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Apr 13, 2020

Hello Jiayin,

I've never looked into the game Animal Crossing, but I continue to here about the hype surrounding the game in my social spheres. From what I've heard, its a more social version of the more classic version I briefly played when I was younger. That being said, a peaceful, yet social game like this could not have been released at a better time, as everyone is currently bound to their homes. Your Li Bi-esque method to representing the game's serenity seems to be spot on. While the current epidemic understandably has everyone in a solemn mood, the happiness expressed in this poem was a nice change of pace. Great job!


Apr 11, 2020

Your first poem is quite similar in topic to what I wrote about. Ann Arbor has changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic situation and has brought sudden changes. In particular, I like how you used the scenery of one specific location as an inspiration to tell a tale of the past. While Su Shi's poem is a positive reflection on the past, your poem is also effective at making readers understand your longing for the past.

I also enjoyed your Animal Crossing poem. The game has been the popular activity as of late, so I am sure many readers were able to emphasize with the poetic strategy you used.


Tianjian Huang
Tianjian Huang
Apr 10, 2020

As a Chinese international student, I somehow have the same feeling with you when I read about your first poem. I bought several air tickets and tried to get back home as the situation is getting worse and worse right here. It seemed like all our plans for the rest of the semester were ended suddenly and it took me a while to realize everything were true. I like your way to make contrast between the normal day and these special days.


Eddie Zhang
Apr 10, 2020

Very well written and some of the most fun poems I have ever read. I feel your sorrow from the first poem. Things changed overnight and important decisions must be made. Suddenly the semester ended and we didn't have time to say goodbye to our friends. Many of them will graduate, and maybe we won't see some of them forever. What remain are beautiful memories. I can see a clear relation to Su Shi's poem. The second poem is definitely fun to read. I was surprised that you poem was inspired by a video game. It is nice to see that you can stay connected with your best friends through a game. After all, socializing in the game is the…

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