Custom Search

Farewell to Jian Xin 1 at the Lotus Tower 2

Wang, Chang-ling 3 (?-756 CE?)

A cold torrential rain 4 entered Wu District 5 during the night.
At dawn I saw my guest off at lonely 6 Chu Mountain.
If my friends and relatives in Lo-yang City 7 ask about me,
Tell them that my heart is as pure as crystal ice in a jade bottle.


1 Jian Xin was Chang-ling Wang's friend.

2 The Lotus Tower was located in Zheng-jiang City (present day Zheng-jiang-shi City in Jiangsu Province).
    The key to understanding the theme of this poem is to grasp the circumstance of the poet at the time it was written. Chang-ling Wang was an assistant district magistrate in Jiang-ning City when he wrote this poem. It was after 742 CE. Before this time, he was banished from the position of junior officer in Si-shui City (present day Chang-gao-xian City in Henan Province) to Ling-nan Area in 739 CE. Later, he was demoted to assistant district magistrate in Jiang-ning City. In 748 CE, he was banished again to the more remote and desolate area near Long-biao City (located southwest of present day Qian-yang City in Hunan Province). It could be said that Wang suffered many demotions and banishments and his political career was doomed with frustrations. Fan Yin, a contemporary of Chang-ling Wang, wrote in his book, The Souls of Heroes in China, "Chang-ling Wang was a virtuous man indifferent to fame or gain. During the late years of his life, Wang became careless about small matters. His enemy used this fact and the fact that he had been sent into exile twice to foment a slanderous rumor about him." Actually, it was not Chang-ling Wang's fault, but rather he was too proud to follow the prevailing customs. When Wang was banished to the desolate area near Long-biao City, Bai Li wrote the following poem: Poplar flowers have all fallen and goatsuckers cry./ I heard you had crossed five rivers and reached Long-biao City./ I entrust my care for you to the bright moon./ My thought of you will follow the wind up to the western border of the Kingdom of Yie-lang./ The Kingdom of Yie-lang was located west of Long-biao City. Li's poem showed great sympathy toward Wang's suffering. In this poem, Wang claimed that he was innocent and asked his friends and relatives not to believe in rumors.

3 Shao-bo was Chang-ling Wang's alternate first name. He was a native of Wan-nian City (present day Xi-an City in Shaanxi Province) of Jing-zhao County. He was an assistant district magistrate in Jiang-ing City and then a junior officer in Long-biao City. Consequently, people called him Jiang-ning Wang or Long-biao Wang. Wang passed the Advanced Exam in 727 CE. He was appointed to the office of Editor in the Department of Confidential Documents and Official Dispatches and then was selected as a Great Scholar in the Royal Academy. When Lu-shan An and Si-ming Shi led a rebellion, Wang took refuge in the area between the Yangtze River and the Huai River. He was framed and killed by Qiu-xiao L , the Mayor of Hao-zhou City. Chang-ling Wang mastered the Qi-l (similar to heptameter) style of poetry. His poems about border fortresses were vigorous, grandiose, and powerful; his poems on women were refined, beautiful, and full of passion.

4 A cold torrential rain symbolizes the destructive power of the rumor.

5 "Wu District" and "Chu Mountain" refer to the area around present day Zheng-jiang-shi City, the capital of Jiangsu Province.

6 The word "lonely" refers to Wang's isolation and inability to stop the rumor.

7 Lo-yang City was located in present day Henan Province. Chang-ling Wang was a native of Chang-an City, the capital of the Tang dynasty. Here "Lo-yang City" refers to Chang-an City, present day Xi-an City of Shaanxi Province. Chang-an City was the capital of the Western Han dynasty and Lo-yang City was the capital of the Eastern Han dynasty. Therefore, they could be used interchangeably.