Poems of Meng Jiao
One step after another, wandering
Out across a thousand leagues.
In order to choose the natural world,
The ancients would wander alone.
Among Taihang's towering blue peaks,
Fangkou's blue reflection floats.
On this bottomless bright mirror,
Drift the carefree waterbirds.
I've long fled here without thinking
When I could not quiet my mind.
Musing until I'd lose interest or
Just playing idly for a very long time.
Frangrances compete in the sunset.
Green treetops suspend their new softness.
Friendly songbirds circle each other
And fill full the air with their speech.
I now see, in a thousand ways, how hard
It is for the restless to find peace.
I am roused from lingering sickness
To a strength like that of immortals.
This mirror shines for a thousand leagues
And its waves roll over hundreds of spirits.
These spirits daily radiate splendor
Making this no ordinary spring.
The last thirty nights have been bright.
In each season, each day is always new.
Bird's voices drift about like smoke
And the hearts of the beasts are all gentle.
Pure remoteness emerges from this strangeness;
Flashes of otherness appear in this profound cloud.
Come what may, the magic of this place
Is now a part of me.
This is the third poem in a row that has mentioned Fangkou (枋口) and the first to actually describe it. Fangkou is a mountain lake in Henan near the small town of Jiyuan. Based on this and on a remark of Meng Jiao's about being stuck in a "village" for a time, we can say that Meng Jiao was probably stationed in Jiyuan in Henan for three years. Officials were not allowed to travel beyond their district without permission. So this lake must have been close enough for Meng Jiao to go there whenever he wished.
The name 枋口 has at least two possible meanings. The first is "Sandalwood Source" and the second is "Open Gable-End." The first suggests a forest scene. The second suggests the view out the open gable-end of a temple or similar, looking out into the trees and sky. In China, except for the far western ranges, mountains are not very tall, almost never rising above the treeline. And they are often a series of karst towers. So the lake could actually be at the foot of towers which would give it the sense of being beneath a green roof which provided a view out the gable end. It would almost certainly have been forested, perhaps with sandalwood. So the meaning of the name remains up in the air.