Poems of Meng Jiao
(On visiting their sacred shrine.)
When Shun the emperor disappeared into the South,
His two wives disappeared into a mounting sadness.
All three were lost in that same vastness that
The Xiaoxiang River finds within the sea.
Below the distant barren mountains,
An ancient shrine received their faithful souls.
Stately trees enclose their eternal youth
And pure light fills their precious caskets.
If you try to seize their famous fragrance,
You find their loving-kindness out of reach.
Their remains and jewelled pendants are no comfort
In the thick and lingering incense of the evening.
The poem speaks for itself. The legend of the sister-queens has them crying so much that they died but not before their tears gave rise to the spotted bamboo (湘妃竹), staining it as they fell. The poem does show that Meng Jiao was a romantic and idealist. Those are often the qualities that give rise to bitterness later in life. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Bai Juyi was that his eternal, almost naive, idealism never found expression in bitterness and disappointment.