Poems of Meng Jiao
Convalescing at Xizhai, I am overcome with emotion at night because of a letter from my brother-in-law.
Distant wanderer, in skimpy pajamas,
Despises sleep and waits upon cock's-crow.
Entire bed bathed in empty moonlight.
Autumn's crickets chirp from all four walls.
Nuturing my strength, I leave the common herd.
As I improve, I think of what life remains.
All-in-all, officialdom is crude and feeble.
I'm ashamed to have studied petty things.
Even pesky insects have their moment.
Every hair and feather has its fullness.
But even the best of horses couldn't run
If it were cramped and bound like me.
Xibei has good roads. With luck,
I will arrive without any problems.
I've seen this kind of poem before. Meng Jiao gets a letter from his brother-in-law. I assume this is a brother of his first wife. Otherwise, he's remarried now and older. Anyway, the letter makes him feel some things. So he writes a poem in response to these feelings, puts a normal response to the letter at the end, and manages to save a copy for posterity. You know, just in case it survives for fourteen hundred years ....
"Best of horses" is actually Qili, the name of a legendary best horse.