The poet is shackled to his post, but his friend is free as a bird, leaving behind all the mundane glories and shame. With the two trajectories of life so different, the poet is hesitant to hang out with his friend like before. Only a couple of miles away, it feels so much more distant that it has been over 10 days since they last hung.
A wall is erected between the two worlds: a life in comfortable retirement and a daily chaos of judging right and wrong. Pondering over how to tear down this wall, the poet finds the bamboo trees in front of the window. The frugal spirit and the subtle scent of integrity of bamboo trees should suffice as a pretext to arrange a meeting with an estranged friend. Still hesitant, the poet ascribes his urge for invitation to a sudden surge of excitement.
Back then, Bai Juyi, a Chinese poet from Tang dynasty, was a 9-grade public official. His life must have been hectic with handling all trivialities involving taxes and judicial rulings in a small countryside. “Making bows every day, it aches all over my body even my mind. Work is mounting, and my heart for the public office wanes each year,” he complained in another piece of poetry that Bai sent to his other friend. The distress typically reserved for a newly appointed official can be easily guessed out of it.