Poems of Bai Juyi
Evening River Chant
Together at sunset along the river bank,
Half the river, turquoise. The other half, pink.
Too bad, on this third night of ninth month,
Dew just like big pearls and a sliver of moon.
It is 822. Bai Juyi is governor of Hangzhou. Yuan Zhen is in exile, again. So we don't know who Bai is walking with. Maybe his wife. He lives in his times and we live in ours. In his times, every time he mentions his daughters, he starts off with "Even though she isn't a son...." He can't help it. The question of daughter-equality has not arisen in the Tang dynasty mind. Likewise, if he were to take a walk with his wife and then write a poem about it, he would probably do no more than he does here: mention walking together. Men could send their wives off and divorce them, keep concubines, have girlfriends. There is some evidence that Bai had (maybe) a girlfriend after marraige whose shoes he (significantly for this time) kept. But maybe it was someone from before marraige. He often had a singing girl in his house. But that doesn't signify semi-prostitution or anything else. Just singing. Bai and his wife spent their long lives almost entirely together and she outlived him. They were married thirty-eight years.