Anchorage on a Rainy Night illustrates how Ming scholar-artists intertwined poetry and painting to create a vehicle for intimate exchanges among a close-knit circle of friends. Radiating a mood of subdued introspection, the painting mirrors Shen's state of mind less than two months after his father's death, when he found solace in a friend's company. Shen drew on the pictorial vocabulary of the Yuan artist Huang Gongwang (1269–1354): softly contoured peaks, flat plateaus, and outcrops of round boulders accented by dark foliage dots and a few foreground trees. But Shen simplified Huang's complex brush idiom to a few brush conventions and a narrow range of ink tonalities, and he reduced Huang's richly articulated compositional structure to a geometric scheme of repeated diagonals in which the wedge-shaped foreground, receding stream, echelon of successively taller trees, and distant mountain slope all point toward the upper right, where he added a poetic inscription that places his visual tone-poem in context:Sparse paulownia leaves bring drops of morning dew,East of the ancient city in the rising sun's slanting rays,Swallows fly low over the overflowing pond.Thus I know that tonight the spring rain will be plentiful,How fitting that fish should leap and ducks swim.On the twentieth day of the last [lunar] month of spring in the dingyou year [May 2, 1477], I lodged on a boat to the east of the city with Weide. After the rain, everything grew quiet. I did this picture and poem to capture the mood.In response to Shen's poem, his close friend Wu Kuan added a poem following the same rhyme scheme along with the observation that the harbor Shen has described is none other than the one fronting a farmhouse owned by Wu's family.