''Return to the Field'' was written as Zhang rejoicefully went into retirement in 138, after retiring from the corrupted politics of the capital Luoyang and then serving a post as administrator over Hejian, Hebei. His poem reflected the life he wished to lead in retirement while emphasizing markedly ideas over his background. Liu Wu-chi writes that by combining Daoist ideas with Confucian ones, Zhang's poem "heralded the metaphysical verse and nature poetry of the later centuries."
I flourish my pen and invoke elegant words
To expound the patterns of the Three Emperors.
If one but let one's heart roam beyond this realm,
Why should one know the semblance of honor and disgrace?