1 colophon, dated 1744, and 3 seals of Li E 厲鶚 (1692–1752).
The Xing’an [Temporary Retreat] is located at the northern outskirts of Yangzhou, near the western corner of the Tianning Temple. It was purchased by Ma Yueguan and his younger brother, Ma Yuelu, when it was but unused land of the Buddhist monastery and built as a place for rest and recreation. The monastery itself was the country villa of Xie An of the Jin dynasty. Its western corner is especially luxuriant and shady, densely wooded with ancient trees. Once inside the secluded areas of the woods, people would not know that they are not far from the city. The “retreat” is right at the center of this secluded spot, totally devoid of any artificial ornamentation of carving, engraving, lacquer, or bright colors, but rich in refreshing shade and in its balconies and courtyards. For this reason, people who come here for rest always linger and do not want to leave. On the Double-Ninth Day of guihai  of the Qianlong era, after a prolonged period of rain, the weather was pleasant and fine. So the members [of the poetry club] were all invited to gather here. There, in the center, the portrait of Tao Jingjie [Tao Qian] by Qiu Ying was hung; yellow chrysanthemums were picked, and white wine was offered as a libation. The fourteen words in Du Fu’s lines, “ren shi nan feng kai kou xiao, ju hua xu cha man tou gui” (In this mortal world, there is hardly any occasion for a hearty laugh; so with chrysanthemums, let’s go home full of flowers in our hair), were chosen as rhymes for making poetry. And so, dizzily and merrily, we all drank and hummed the whole day.
A month later, Ye Jingchu, the portrait painter active in Suzhou, happened to be here and was asked to do a group portrait of the gathering on a scroll, with Fang Huanshan completing the background scenery. The painting was titled A Literary Gathering at the Temporary Retreat on the Ninth Day. Upon the completion of its mounting, every participant was asked to write his composition at the end of the scroll, and I was entrusted with recording the event in an essay.
In the picture there are two gentlemen sitting together on a short couch. The one on the right, who squats with outspread legs, is Hu Fuzhai, Qiheng, from Wuling; and the one on the left who holds his right knee is Tang Nanxuan, Jianzhong, from Tianmen. Two other gentlemen are sitting on matted chairs: the one holding a piece of writing is Fang Huanshan, Shishu, of Shexian; the other on the left, who is looking up as if he is about to speak, is Min Yuzheng, Hua, of Jiangdu. One gentleman who is sitting on a rattan stool and fingering his beard is Quan Xieshan, Zuwang, of Ningbo. The other, seated, leaning against a rock as though he is deep in thought, is Zhang Yuchuan, Sike, of Lintong. Two gentlemen are standing under trees, away from other people. The one holding a chrysanthemum is Li Fanxie, E, from Qiantang; the other, clasping his hands in his sleeves, is Chen Zhuding, Zhang, from Qiantang. One gentleman is playing on a qin on the stone table; this is Cheng Xiangxi, Mengxing, of Jiangdu. Among the three listeners, the one standing behind him with sleeve down is Ma Bancha, Yuelu, of Qimen. Two gentlemen are sitting on porcelain stools: the one leaning against a tree on the left is Fang Xizhou, Shijie; the other on the right, with legs crossed, is Wang Tianzhai, Yushu; both are from Shexian. Two gentlemen, seated facing each other and unrolling a scroll, are Ma Xiegu, Yueguan, of Qimen on the left, and Wang Meiyi, Zao, on the right. One onlooker on the right, with both hands clasped behind his back, is Lu Nanqi, Zhonghui, of Jiangdu. The other leaning forward [behind Mr. Lu] is Hong Quxi, Zhengke, of Shexian. Among the boy servants, three are planting chrysanthemums, one is waiting among the trees, one holds a walking stick while the other holds a scroll. Plants in the painting are banana, bamboo, and trees of various kinds. They are represented in colors of reddish yellow and greenish blue to give a seasonal feeling.
Now the auspicious name of Double Ninth is universally respected by tradition. But [the Tang poet] Gao Shi [d. 675] had to scratch his head lamenting his loneliness, while Lu Guimeng [d. 881] had to shut himself indoors to dream of the joy of climbing up high. The reasons for their misfortunes were simply their lack of right time, right place, and right people. As for us, we are lucky in being born during a reign of peace, in a place of beauty, and in the company of friends who are cultured and understanding. How rare indeed are such gatherings in this world. On the other hand, among the sixteen of us, some are natives [of Yangzhou], and others are only visitors. Our meetings and partings are irregular and unpredictable. Some day, when enough time has gone by, when we are brought back to our memories by the change of seasons, we may unroll this painting and feel like seeing each other again. For the people in the future who have a chance to see this painting, perhaps they will not feel differently from us.
In the jiazi year , on the fifty-fourth day of the summer, Li E recorded and inscribed.