Return to the Field
Return to the Field was written as Zhang rejoicefully went into retirement in 138, after retiring from the corrupted politics of the capital Luoyang and then serving a post as administrator over Hejian, Hebei. His poem reflected the life he wished to lead in retirement while emphasizing markedly Daoist ideas over his Confucian background. Liu Wu-chi writes that by combining Daoist ideas with Confucian ones, Zhang's poem "heralded the metaphysical verse and nature poetry of the later centuries." In the rhapsody, Zhang also explicitly mentions the sage of Daoism, Laozi (fl. 6th century BC), as well as Confucius (6th century BC), the Duke of Zhou (fl. 11th century BC), and the Three Sovereigns.
A section about spring in Zhang Heng's rhapsody, translated in Liu Wu-chi's book An Introduction to Chinese Literature (1990), reads as thus:
Then comes young spring, in a fine month,
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- Liu, Wu-chi. (1990). An Introduction to Chinese Literature. Westport: Greenwood Press of Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-26703-0.
- Neinhauser, William H., Charles Hartman, Y.W. Ma, and Stephen H. West. (1986). The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature: Volume 1. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32983-3.