孟郊诗

Poems of Meng Jiao


Index

劝学

On Learning


击石乃有火
不击元无烟
人学始知道
不学非自然

Stones struck together make fire.
No strike and there never will be smoke.
Study begins with awareness.
No study and you cannot be yourself.

万事须己运
他得非我贤
青春须早为
岂能长少年

All things you must do yourself.
Others cannot decide our worth.
The young must begin there studies early
For we cannot extend our youth.

-- 孟郊


废话

The title of this poem is the same as Xunzi's (荀子) Han dynasty book on Confucian learning. So is this a Confucian exhortation from Meng Jiao? Or is it an independent one? In the scrolls, this poem is supposed to be from the period where Meng Jiao met Han Yu. And the two of them became friends, which means that Meng Jiao was somewhat sympathetic to Confucianism. Or, at least, it didn't set him off. And urging the youth of one's time to study is a social gesture. It's important not to think too anachronistically about Meng Jiao. He was very independent. But even before he began taking (and failing) his exams, he was already esteemed by established poets. In other words, he was accepted by the establishment to some extent.


Index