Poems of Meng Jiao
You must choose your ground when planting trees,
Evil soil will change the roots.
Do not miss the real man when making friends,
Doing less leads to harsh words.
Gentlemen are like the laurel's fragrance,
Blossoming in spring, yet in winter, stronger.
Small men are fickle as hibiscus,
Blooms scarce lasting from morning to night.
Do not tread on winter's hard ice and
find yourself by hidden currents overturned.
Make only the firm and fast your friend
For those you may call worthy.
Lonely men think a lot about friendship. Thoreau goes on about it for pages in A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers. But elevated men, like Thoreau and Meng Jiao, need a higher friendship which they may never find. Rumi found Shams Tabrizi. Thoreau never found anyone. Meng Jiao found peers who befriended him among the Tang poets. But we don't yet know if they were really friends. Possibly not. Few, like Rumi, ever meet anyone above the treeline of the mind.