This poet served as an officer at the Office of the Censor General at the same time as the famous Chinese author Du Fu. Climbing up the red stairs in the Imperial Palace shoulder to shoulder, the two officials headed separately to the Palace Secretariat and the Chancellery. Spending the whole day from the wee hours until the evening, even with the scent of the palace lingering in their clothes, the man looks back at the day, wishing he had worked harder. The author, gray-haired even in his 30s, finds himself saddened over the fallen flowers for no good reason.
His complaints may well explain why he envies a bird flying high into the sky. He is not happy with fewer letters of remonstrance written and submitted to the emperor, even in such greater political chaos across the country. To him, the poet presumes that there is less freedom of sharing opinions of remonstrance, or related officials do not do their job. Asking carefully if such a laid-back atmosphere at the Court might ironically make it seem flawless, the author may stay respectful of Du Fu, who is older by six to seven years.
Du Fu writes a response poem to the young colleague, Cen Shen, saying, “Softly curly willow branches are deep green. Corollas are fully reddened by grace. Give your insightful comments to this gray-haired man only.” Your youth, as freshly green as willows and as profoundly red as flowers, never deserves the fallen flowers. Save you from trouble and hatred, but let this old man speak up. These lines well demonstrate how Du Fu consoles Cen Shen's frustrations based on fellowship.