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Giving My Daughter Away to the Yang Family 1

Wei, Ying-wu 2 (737-792 CE?)

I was sorrowful all day.
Even when I took a walk outdoors,
My sadness remained.
You are going to travel a long distance to be married.
Your light boat will go up a mighty river.
Unfortunately, you and your sister are motherless 3.
As I recall the past,
I wish I could have loved you more.
You have had to raise your sister.
When you parted,
You both cried endlessly.
When I saw you cry I was heartbroken.
However, for your happiness I cannot ask you to stay.
You have lacked a mother痴 guidance since you were little,
So I worry whether you can serve your mother-in-law properly.
Fortunately, you are entrusted to a kind family.
I hope that your mother-in-law will treat you well
And not find fault with you.
Frugality should be promoted,
So why do you need a rich dowry 4?
Respect your in-laws and observe a woman's proper conduct.
Your appearance and demeanor should follow the customs of propriety.
We must part this morning.
In what year will I see you again?
I used to be able to master my feelings,
But when we must part my feelings suddenly overwhelm me.
As I return home and see your little sister,
My tears stream down along the strings of my hat.

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1 Chinese people regard marriage as one of the most important events in one's life. This poem reveals a father's view about his daughter's wedding. The video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPNu1Unprb4&feature=related, shows how a Chinese girl prepares her wedding. The video,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DunkGaaGGsM&feature=related, is entitled "Entering the Bridal Sedan Chair".

1 Ying-wu Wei was a native of Wan-nian City (present day Xi-an City of Shaanxi Province) of Jing-zhao County. He was a descendent of Xiong Wei, the Carefree Duke of the Zhou dynasty. Dai-jia fathered Ling-yi; Ling-yi fathered Luan; Luan fathered Ying-wu. In 751 CE, Ying-wu Wei was appointed to San-wei-lang (Imperial Guardian) in the emperor's court. During the Yong-tai Period, he was appointed as Assistant Magistrate of Lo-yang District and then as an official at Jing-zhao County. He managed state affairs with integrity. In 779 CE, he was transferred from Mayor of Hu-xian City to Mayor of Li-yang City. He declined the transfer with the excuse of illness. In 781 CE, he was transferred from Counsel on the Board of Examination Affairs to Mayor of Chu-zhou City and then reappointed as Mayor of Jiang-zhou City. Soon after the emperor's court ordered him to go to the palace and appointed him as a senior secretary of Zuo-si (left department). During the early Zhen-yuan Period, Wei was appointed as Mayor of Su-zhou City. This seems to have been his last government position.
    "A Banquet with Local Writers in the Lobby of the City Hall as the Rain Falls" written by Ying-wu Wei says,
"The entrances of the magnificent City Hall are closely guarded;
Fragrance fills the guest room.
As the wind and rain from the sea arrives,
The pool and the hall are cool and guests become carefree.
My annoying illness has recently disappeared.
Guests of honor fill the lobby again.
I am ashamed of assuming a high position
Because I have not yet improved people's well-being.
Wisdom solves disputes;
Looking on the bright side of things eliminates one's unnecessary burdens.
Meat and fish are no longer popular;
Fruits and vegetables are fresh and tasty.
Looking down, I drink a cup of wine.
Looking up, I listen to beautiful poems.
I feel weightless when I am happy.
I wish I could ride the wind and fly.
History and literature have flourished in the Central Region of Wu District.
The talent of my guests is like a sea of treasures.
I finally realize that the treasure of Wu District is not limited to its wealth."
    Wei was noble and fond of cleanliness. He liked to light incense and sweep the immediate area before he sat down. Only outstanding poets such as Kuang Gu, Chang-qing Liu, Dan Qiu, Ran Jiao were extended the honor of being invited to Wei's home to write poems with him. A letter that Tai-zhen Liu wrote to Wei said, "Kuang Gu visited me and showed me your poem, 'A Banquet in the Lobby of the City Hall'. How expressive, vigorous, and refined it is! During the Song (420-479) and Qi (479-502) dynasties, Ling-yun Xie (385-443), Yue Shen (441-513), Yun Wu; Xun He (?-535) were able to master expressing their thoughts. Although they could follow their feelings and express their profound experiences, their poems were disconnected from the legacy of Chinese classics. You are the only poet who is able to control your thoughts with the ancient style. Those who master The Book of Poetry in its entirety will find that your poems carry on the traditions of classical Chinese poetry."
    Wei mastered writing verses with five characters to a line. His poetry was as simple and elegant as Qian Tao's. Most of his poems described pastoral features of landscapes. In Ju-yi Bai's letter to Jiu Yuan, Bai praised Wei's poetry by writing, "Wei's poetry is simple and elegant. He has his own style."

3 Wei wrote a poem to mourn his wife when she died. It says, "My little children knew what they had lost./ They clutched at my clothing as they cried."

4 This shows that Ying-wu Wei was an honest and upright government official. He did not use his position to take bribes.