Poems of Meng Jiao
Out with a Guardsman
Heavy snow. Cold that frostbites hands.
Northern gales have broken and piled the ice.
In this wilderness with an imperial falconer --
I can't believe today is real.
From the guardsman's brocade sleeve,
His goshawk gracefully rises.
Then whipping his fast white horse,
He pounds across Yellow River's ice.
I don't think we appreciate the popularity of Tang poetry in its own time. Something like this probably happened: Meng Jiao is out west in the winter. He goes somewhere for a warm meal. Circumstances lead to an imperial guardsman from the capital who is stationed out on the edge of beyond to approach Meng Jiao and ask, "Hey, aren't you that poet who wrote ....?" One thing leads to another and Meng Jiao finds himself on horseback on a falconing hunt in the snow. These things happen to everyday wanderers even today if the wanderer has any spirit. Imagine what would happen if you were wandering and were a poet with a popular reputation. Hey, aren't you that poet who ...? All this points to Meng Jiao being in his thirties here.