Poems of Meng Jiao
An old man goes on with life as usual.
Of a hundred things, he barely gets one right.
He eats the four hooves of a frozen horse.
Doing better than this would be hard for him.
Brief moments awkwardly fly by.
But still, it isn't even noon.
When young and strong, days are glorious.
Old and weak, they're merely anxious.
A day's anxieties make you distrust the day
And flying years become your enemy.
All things lose their savour
And a whole life becomes an empty prison.
I wonder if writing even matters
In this empty journey down to death.
This is Meng Jiao being Bai Juyi's dark twin again. In Bai Juyi's "The Foxglove Gatherer," the poet sympathizes with an old man's struggle to feed his grandchildren. Here, Meng Jiao deeply empathizes with an old man's struggle to go on living. Where Bai Juyi maintains a distance by feeling ashamed of his own good fortune, Meng Jiao is at one with the old man and his struggle. It is, after all, everyone's struggle.