Poems of Xue Tao
Ordered to Go to the Border, My Feelings about Duke Wei Ling, in two verses
(Written to fully express my feelings of Duke Wei Ling)
Of the bitterness of border towns,
Today I begin to understand.
I would be ashamed to be a court parasite,
Playing and chanting with Gansu's boss.
The sadness of those he traps into servitude, against
Heaven's Will, flies north on the smoke of beacon fires.
Allow me to say this plainly, I strictly denounce him
And dare not go to Songzhou on the border.
This poem illustrates the relative freedom of female entertainers in the Tang dynasty. One assumes Xue Tao did not make the trip to Gansu. In the title, she doesn't exactly say "ordered to go." She uses 罚, which makes it more like "punished to go." I would think this comes from her working days in Chengdu. If it were from her years with Wei Gao, she could just tell him no. Although, maybe he insisted and she stalked off and wrote him this poem to make her refusal clear. In either case, isn't it interesting that this poem even exists? If we had to spell it out, we would do so in prose. She has done so in verse. And then she kept the verse in her collection. It's an interesting relation to an act of refusal.