Poems of Meng Jiao
Old Man of the Mountain
I never go down off this mountain.
I only cultivate mountain fields.
I wander with my big axe cutting pines.
I dip my water from the spring by my hut.
Who would have expected me to become a writer?
I can't even remember my life changing.
As my body becomes an old twisted tree,
I can begin to fulfill my remaining days.
The second verse is interesting. The first bigram means "who could have guessed...?" or "unexpectedly." 文字力 is more than "writer." It's "writing power" in the way 功力 is "fighting power." The bigram 日月 has many meanings. Here it is "life and livelihood." The twisted tree is (probably) the useless tree from Zhuangzi's stories. And so the last line is more like "I can begin to achieve complete realization in my remaining years."
Living in one place, tending a garden, selling firewood, could well be how Meng Jiao spent his time of "wandering" in the South. Actual wandering requires money and is, as any wanderer knows, exhausting. Much easier to park it somewhere, do enough to get by, and have plenty of time to read and write, as Henry David Thoreau has demonstrated by Walden. And given this time to develop his writing, there would come a day when Meng Jiao realizes that his writing is comparable to those who are considered competent in his own day. Writing is no different from mathematics; you know who is in front of you and you know who is behind you. Who is getting paid is a question from another realm altogether.