Poems of Meng Jiao
Turning the Water Black
Mediocre - "Spring's bulrushes with leaves like girdles."
It's like purple caltrops pretending to be big lilies.
Dress it up in fashion and rely upon the times ...
My couplets struggle the old way to reach the heights.
Isn't this just a sweet poem about birds and flowers? Well, yes. But it is also an early precursor to "Mourning the Gorges" and its subtext stands out like a sore thumb. In the title, 临池 refers to the Han calligrapher, Zhang Zhi, who practiced by a pond, washing his inkstone in the water until the water turned black. "Mediocre" (池中) is equally obvious, 池中物 being the expression for mediocre. The third line is more literally "delicate skirts and beautiful hair rely on welcoming the current ways," which has nothing to do with birds or water caltrops and everything to do with fashion. And the final line, on the surface, is "in pairs, shrikes fly towards the east," but those shrikes that do migrate fly off north or south. East would be the capital, the center of literary effort and recognition. You can read the poem either as an idle observation of nature with a weird third line or as an early effort in couching criticism within a normal poem. I'll go with door number two.