Poems of Meng Jiao
After Passing Exams
In the old days, dirty mind, nothing to brag about.
This morning, dissolute, my thoughts unbounded.
I'd really like a woman but my horse is half lame.
I'll spend the day looking at Chang'an's pretty girls.
Oh, Meng Jiao. Always a surprise. He's forty-six or fifty, depending on which test he's finally passed. He's single. He spends all his time on poetry. And, frankly, none of the above translation is a stretch. It's a straightforward translation. Trying to raise its tone would be a stretch. The only tiny effort I made was to translate "flowers" (花) as "pretty girls." Actually, unless he meant none of the poem, by "flowers" he meant "prostitutes." So, hey, I did raise the tone.
While we're on the subject of sex, there's a phrase in the poem that we've encountered once or twice before: 马蹄疾 or [horse][hooves][suffering]. Now we have to ask, is this a sexual expression? Food for sinological thought. (Like they'd know. See Xue Tao's last poem, the sinologists' case for her sleeping with Yuan Zhen.)
And yes, men over forty-five do have sex and not just with prostitutes. In fact, if you can get over the initial shock of womenopause and avoid the Viagra, you'll be having sex that would kill a younger man. Just not so often. I leave the proof as an exercise for the reader. Something to look forward to.