魚玄機 Yu Xuanji (a famous poetess and a female Taoist)
Yu Xuanji (844—871 AD) was a famous poetess in the late Tang dynasty. At first her name was Yu Youwei. In 894 AD when she was five, her family moved to another town and she started her study at a local school. In 854 AD when she was ten, the family moved back to her hometown, where she began to get acquainted with a famous poet at the time. They wrote poems to each other ever since.
In 858 AD, she was fourteen. A scholar Li Yi (?--?) wrote a poem on the wall of Chongzhen Temple. It was traditional for ancient poets to write poems wherever they could, such as on the walls of a temple, of a wine house, or even on a cliff wall of a scenic spot. When the girl read it, she liked it and then married Li Yi as a concubine through the introduction of her acquainted poet. As Li had a wife, Yu could only be a concubine. His wife was so jealous that Li did not dare to bring the girl home. He just let her stay in Xianyi Temple.
A few years later, her husband deserted her because he was a man liking new love partners, except his wife, whom he was afraid of. Yu began to travel east in the autumn of 861 AD. Next spring, she returned to where she started her trip, ChangAn city. In 866 AD when she turned twenty-two, she became a female Taoist in Yanyi Temple and changed her name to Yu Xuanji, which was better known to us. In that period of time, many men of letters came to seek her favor, but she favored none. She treated everyone coming to visit her equally as a friend. She did not remarry anyone. She kept writing poems, fifty-one in all that we know today. Although she was a Taoist, she was a famous woman, and had a maid to wait on her. Once she was so angry with her maid that she beat her accidentally to death. For this crime, she was executed. A famous couplet from one of her poems is so written:
It is easy to get a precious antique,
But hard to have a boy of true love.