Poems of Meng Jiao
The Way of Chang'an
A savage wind shakes the rich men's trees
But it's the poor outside who weep in it.
All the vermillion gates are open.
You can look. But you can't go in.
On Chang'an's twelve great boulevards,
Hiding in the trees, the birds are hard-up too.
That tall tower, where the reed pipes make
Their sucking clamor, whose house is that?
When Meng Jiao's peers said that his words cut to the bone, they did not mean he was savagely critical and outrageous. They meant he said plainly what their conscience and sense of justice longed to hear. He was a little rough-edged about it. But an edge to make you smile rather than wince. An edge that made you feel it might be time to misbehave. A dangerous edge, if you think about it.