Poems of Meng Jiao
We part and always return too late.
It turns us old before our time.
It's one thing to accept our fate
Another to be poor and feel just fine.
Deep worries undermine our free nature
And our remedies all lose their strength.
Autumn winds, traveler's clothes,
A setting sun, a road too long.
You ask me where I am going
When I can hardly preserve myself.
Meng Jiao's partings that we know of are few. He left the home of his father, an official, to lead a different life than he had known at home. He left with his first wife or married her soon after leaving home. He left her behind for work and returned only after she was dead. He met another woman and they were intimate. But when he left her to go somewhere, she didn't care that he was leaving. We don't know the whole story of any of these. But leave-taking had added up to a number of bad memories for Meng Jiao.
This makes the last two lines extraordinary. The final one is literally [body/life][poor/inadequate][hard/difficult][myself][preserve]. For Meng Jiao, his fate is the necessity of travel. But, perhaps in the larger sense, he doesn't even understand what he is or how to preserve a sense of self so hard to grasp.