Poems of Meng Jiao
Ru Prefecture, South Pool, accompanying Lu Zhongcheng to a banquet
Heavy rain, a hundred springs rise.
South Pool, heavy darkness falls.
Can still see its jade sand bottom.
Writing comes as heart reflects Heaven.
Distant guests come to Dongting Lakes
Because they sooth the troubled hearts.
Everyone's aboard the flying cloud boats.
I wish I could do this justice on my qin.
On the cliffs, war banners fly and
Hidden dragons float, unnoticed, in the deeps.
Power and influence guard these depths.
Here old demons escape pursuit.
Mountain's aspect changes as rain clears.
River begins to flow in a new voice.
Senses strain into the distance --
Slowly flowing and rising up.
Who says Commandant Liu
Couldn't sing of white duckweed?
A few notes. Flying cloud boats are party barges -- big, floating platforms for heavy drinking. Meng Jiao's reference to his qin, the musical instrument of gentleman, increases my belief that poetry was often sung aloud, especially on occasions like this. He probably is singing this poem here on South Pool. I'm pretty sure South Pool is simply one of the Dongting Lakes. This is a political gathering. So I think that the third verse is Meng Jiao commenting on the guests and the current political situation. And the final couplet seems to indicate this poem is being sung for the banqueters. It appears to be some kind of in-joke. Commanderies were the large military commands, five during the Tang, which kept the empire together. After Meng Jiao's time, commandants would often rebel and proclaim themselves emperor. Duckweed is a symbol for wanderers. I have no idea what "white duckweed" symbolizes.