Poems of Bai Juyi
At Handan, Winter Solstice Night, Thinking of Home
Winter Solstice at the Handan relay station.
My shadow and I hugging our knees in the lamplight.
Sitting here all night just missing my home
And greeting other waiting wanderers as they drift in.
Winter Solstice of 804 finds Bai Juyi on the road in Hebei province. He isn't travelling for work because his job is a two day per month office job. And it doesn't pay much. But he does get a food allowance in grain. So he's probably taking grain to one of his poor relations. Maybe to his mother. No matter what his circumstances, we always find Bai Juyi caring for more than just himself. He takes care of dead brothers' families and widowed brothers' children and his mother and cousins and his own wife and child. He's always lonely for his distant friends and in the midst of a family as big as he can clothe and feed. So you shouldn't take his loneliness too seriously. It's a poet thing.