Poems of Meng Jiao
How Spring Makes Me Feel
It's been raining on the new grass
all day, all day long.
Wind's been blowing the willow catkins
one branch after another.
I'm the only one with a sad face,
passing through spring without a thought.
So I grasp a full cup of wine and sing
like crazy, until I laugh like crazy, too.
The collators of these poems, Ming dynasty officials, I believe, try to put a poet's poems in chronological order. They're not too great at their job, as far as I can tell. It's a government job, sorting poems, and it gets the same kind of attention government jobs always get -- not too much. This poem is collated into Meng Jiao's late wandering years. But I bet it comes elsewhen. As for the content, he could have written it in the cart on the way to his death that last moving-day of his. But it's not that late, I don't think. It's late enough that he is playing with lines 2 and 4 in an unusual way. Not a kosher way. You can see without reading Chinese what he's doing. In most poetic forms of his time, repeating characters is a no-no. Everyone does it from time to time. But doing so flaunts the rules. These two lines almost mock the rules. But I don't think they satisfied him because he gives it up and goes on to the end in another way. So maybe it's not a later poem but an earlier one. If you haven't noticed, these Useless Words of mine are more or less my way of deciding what I might think about a poem. No decisions are final. So, I place this poem well before he returns to the north, along with other earlier experimental poems from his mid- to late-twenties.