Poems of Meng Jiao
Wanting a Friend
North wind leans against the big sea
As solid ice covers the river's face.
Below are the great breakers
Against which there is no recourse.
I want a friend but he must be good,
Must be good for friendship's better ends.
I want a friend and if he were not good
That lack of good would distort the Way.
If you want to know the friend-seeking heart,
Begin by refining pure gold.
Line 8 is more literally, "Not good, mid-road change" where road is one's own path upon the Way. Lack of goodness bends the road, at least as far as the journeyer is concerned. It could be that the north wind against the sea, a solid river, and the great breakers are metaphors now lost to us. Or Meng Jiao could just be standing on the cliffs in winter and wanting a friend. That the river is frozen puts him in the north. So this probably dates from his early officialdom years.