Poems of Meng Jiao
A Singing-School Song
A ten-year-old little boy
Can sing before the imperial court.
A sixty-year-old lonely geezer
Can write poems down by the river.
Last year at Luoyang
A crowd of oldies gathered at your teacher's seat.
They managed to croak out "Bamboo Branches"
And make offerings to the Rope Seat Spirit.
Better to be able to sing than write poems, I say
Sadly, gazing at my three hundred sheaves.
This is probably an inside joke between Meng Jiao and someone at a Chinese opera school. It is also an example of how the collections of poems on the scrolls are only feeble attempts at collation into a timeline and are mostly lazy jumbles lumped together by official clerks. Meng Jiao lived to be sixty-three. So if he is sixty here, he has been an official for ten years and is still hanging out down by the lake, writing poetry, and not attending to his duties. Which suited everyone just fine, apparently. Toulaijin lake, where he wrote, was near Li Yang, an unidentifiable small posting where Meng Jiao was the Wei. Weis were once a military office. But in the Tang they were a minor clerical appointment, suitable for banished poets like Bai Juyi and for lazy poets like Meng Jiao. At least, in those days, there was a place for everyone. Where's a lazy poet to go now for a sinecure?