The text of the current piece is a ci-poem Wen Zhengming wrote for a friend, who is believed to be Xu Lin to whom the poem is said to be dedicated according to Wen’s anthology. Affectionately imbued with friendship, the poem was composed in 1528, providing the undated scroll with the earliest possible date. References from different sources to Wen’s calligraphic works sharing the same text suggest that the calligrapher tended to produce more than one copy of the same calligraphy as well as painting.
Wen Zhengming, a native of Changzhou (present-day Suzhou), benefited from eminent tutors including Wu Kuan in literature, Li Yingzhen in calligraphy and Shen Zhou in painting. After serving as a Hanlin Academician-in-waiting for three years, he resigned and returned home. Outside the court, he commanded acclaim more readily and was honored as one of the “Four Literary Talents of Wu”. He was also known as one of the “Four Painting Masters of Wu” together with Shen Zhou, Tang Yin and Qiu Ying; and one of the “Three Calligraphic Masters of Wu” together with Zhu Yunming and Wang Chong.