The Daughter of Lo-yang City 1

Wang, Wei (700 A.D.-761 A.D.)

The daughter of Lo-yang City lives across the street.
She is slightly beyond the age of fifteen.
The bridegroom rides a green and white striped horse with a jade bit to bring her home.
A maid carries a golden plate of minced carp.
Picturesque pavilions and pearl towers are always within view of her estate.
Red peaches and green willow branches hang toward the eaves.
She is sent into a seven-fragrance carriage 2 with silk curtains.
Covering her face with a feather fan, she is welcomed into a bed's curtain.
Her husband is young, noble, and wealthy.
He is more arrogant and extravagant than Ji-lun 3.
He loves Bi-yu 4 so much that he teaches her to dance himself.
He even gives her precious coral trees as a gift.
Jiu-wei lamp near the spring window is extinguished only at dawn.
The remaining sparks fly and disappear upon hitting the windowpane.
Indulged in play, they rarely have time to practice singing and dancing.
After she has applied her make-up,
She only sits beside the hearth to be immersed in fragrance.
Their acquaintances in the city are all highly influential families.
They visit the Zhao and Li Families 5 day and night.
Who would pity the beautiful girl of the State of Yue 6?
When she was poor, she had to wash raw silk alone beside a river.

1 The title of this poem comes from the poem, "The Water in a River", written by Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty, Yan Xiao. It says, "The daughter of Lo-yang City named Mo-chou (do not worry)/¼ ."
    Starting from the Sui dynasty, China's government used the people who passed the exams as the candidates for appointments. The system provided the opportunity for intellectuals to participate in the government’s affairs. However, during the early Tang dynasty, favoritism was still a serious problem. Even if one passed the Advanced Exam, he might still be unable to find a job unless he had a powerful man to recommend him.
    This poem was written when Wang was sixteen. Wei Wang in his youth was very different from Wei Wang in his old age. When Wang became old, the prime minister was an evil person. The old Wang was disinterested in state affairs in order to avoid persecution. However, the youthful Wang desperately needed a job, but he had a hard time finding an influential man to recommend him. Consequently, he was indignant about social injustice. This was the why he wrote about a model family of rich people. The wife either plays or sit idly. Their acquaintances are all influential families. Who would pity the beautiful girl, Xi-shi, who had to make a living by washing raw silk?
    By taking into account Wei Wang's personal experiences, we can understand the theme of this poem. His father died when he was a child. He was the eldest son, so he had to make a living for his entire family. The circumstance made him prematurely responsible. When he was fifteen, he brought his younger brother, Jin Wang, with him to visit the dignitaries in the capital. However, he did not find much help before he passed the Advanced Exam. Wei Wang was a versatile artist, who mastered painting, writing poetry, and playing music. Therefore, he did not respect these dignitaries heartily. However, they held high-ranking positions, while Wei Wang himself could not even find a job. Could he feel that justice was served? Xi-shi, mentioned at the end of this poem, was used to portray his own unrecognized talent.

2 A seven-fragrance carriage is made of seven kinds of fragrant wood. It enhances the carriage's value.

3 Ji-lun, a.k.a Chong Shi, was extremely wealthy in the Jin dynasty.

4 Bi-yu (green jade) was a concubine of the King of Ru-nan in the Liang dynasty. Here Bi-yu refers to the daughter of Lo-yang City.

5 Fi-yan Zhao and Ping Li were the wives of Emperor Cheng in the Han dynasty. Here the Zhao and Li families refer to influential families.

6 "The beautiful girl of the State of Yue" refers to one of the four most beautiful women in Chinese history, Xi-shi.