Posted in Poetry

East Meets West Antithetically

Perhaps the most difficult in the July Challenge, for me, is the one that, on the surface looks so easy; a single line challenge with a single line response.  Colin Lee’s ‘dare’ caused my brain to both cramp and expand as I read about Antithetical Couplets and then attempted to write a response.  I sent my attempt and explanation to Colin because I was unsure about the outcome before creating this post.  Below you will find the two lines and Colin’s comment back.  His explanation helped me see the form more clearly.  Colin, I would welcome the opportunity to practice this more.  Understanding different mindsets is essential to life in our ever-shrinking world.  What better way to increase that understanding then through poetry?!


The joy of the fish whosoever would know

The tides of the ocean would over him flow

Jilly’s explanation:

“This was really tough and I like the struggles of learning something new. Here was how my logic went:
‘Whosoever’ is a key word. Your line means that the person who knows the joy that the fish knows… So I asked myself, what IS the joy that the fish knows? Answer: to be connected to the water.”

Colin’s response:

“Nice, Jilly! The way you matched it is quite Chinesey. So, you’re saying one who connects to the water and embraces the freedom in it would naturally understand the joy of the fish. At the metaphysical level, as the questioner accentuates the great divide in knowing, you nevertheless point out that if we submerge ourselves into the ocean, that great flow of cosmic conscious (the Tao?), in which we share with the fish, we’ll then realise its joy. That’s profound! (Correct me if I’m wrong … this is just me trying to read the Chinese in your English!)

The word pairing … “joy” vs “tides”; “fish” vs “ocean”; “whosoever would” vs “would over him”; “know” vs “flow”. Meticulous. The metre, spot on. And the rhyme, a bonus. The connotation, complete.”

Collaborative Poetry Colin Lee / Jillly




A wild soul writing poetry & fiction while teaching high school literature, all with a camera in tow.

5 thoughts on “East Meets West Antithetically

  1. “Understanding different mindsets is essential to life in our ever-shrinking world. What better way to increase that understanding than through poetry?!” How very true. This is one of the reasons I decided to write in English, my second language, in the hopes of better connecting with the big, wide world to channel beauty and meanings from one end to another. The tandem challenge is just one of the many things we can do together as fellow global citizens, and may I salute you again, Jilly, for taking the initiative. You’ve created a water in which we can all submerge ourselves to embrace with understanding in a way that was previously impossible — like the fish and the thinker. This all the more made your couplet gold to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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