Poems of Meng Jiao
Sick on the Road
Sick traveler without a master,
Ah, it's painful even to lie down.
The light along the road turns red,
As fever torments my inmost thoughts.
I need a drink. The well is dry.
I need medicine. My purse is empty.
How long will I go on like a child?
My strong will has abandoned me.
A man shouldn't talk about his hardships.
I'd read or write. But the clouds are so peaceful.
A ring of worries encircles my heart,
Winding about until I uselessly die.
I'd say this poem comes from later in Meng Jiao's wanderings. He seems older. But he still has a kind of self-pity that you never find in Bai Juyi. I think that, inside, he is always younger than the eternally young Bai Juyi was. Which must have been hard. Their ideals seem to be similar. But where Bai Juyi was always a young man inside, Meng Jiao seems like an older child at heart. I imagine, from what he has shown us, that he was a fairly rugged individual, far more so than Bai Juyi. He's not as childish and as self-absorbed as some professional climbers I have known. His heart is too big for that. But part of his burden is his not growing up. I think it a sound supposition that he really did not want to be whatever his father had been to him. I don't mean that as an explanation. But I think that it is a vector in the complicated essence of what Meng Jiao was.