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The Lady Wine Seller

The Lady Wine Seller

When Sima Xiangru and Zhuo Wenjun first returned to Chengdu, they led a life of poverty and care, selling their furs to Yang Chang in the market to buy wine and take their pleasure. Then Wenjun threw her arms round her husband's neck and said in tears, "All my life I have been rich, but now I have to sell my furs to buy wine!"
They decided to become tavern keepers in the city, Sima Xiangru wore a short jacket and breeches and washed the cups himself to shame his father-in-law. At that, Wenjun's father felt concern and gave his daughter such expensive gifts that the couple once more became well-off. Wenjun was a pretty girl with eyebrows like distant hills, a face like hibiscus flowers, and smooth, soft skin. Because she was romantic and unconventional, she had been struck by Sima Xiangru's talents and so eloped with him.
Sima Xiangru had suffered from diabetes. After they came to Chengdu, his illness recurred because he was too intoxicated with Wenujn's beauty. Thus he composed a fu called The Song of a Beauty to satirize his own weakness. Yet it was difficult for him to change his ways. Eventually he died of disease. Wenjun wrote a eulogy, which became well known to the people of the time.


Fu: a literary form that existed in ancient China. It is descriptive prose interspersed with verse.

Sima Xiangru: (179-117 A. D.), a great litterateur who was good at playing lyre in the Han Dynasty.


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