Poems of Meng Jiao
Li De's New Home
Li De -- how graceful --
In the southwest, rising in seclusion.
Sunset's boundary releasing spring's beinnings.
Welled garden with the last winter grasses.
Excellence drawn out by a long winding approach
On a remote track -- no one's thoroughfare.
Blue peaks salute us from a distance with
Clear memories of someone's lonely words.
Orderly as a temple, this fine house
With good cloudy wine for dinner.
Rising walls uphold Heaven and a
Pure house contains Heaven's power.
Gates open on the Luo's north bank
Only close as sun sets on Mount Song.
Late at night the stars seem large.
Long days separate Heaven and Earth.
Deep verses stitch together scattered words
As humility withers useless noise.
This place has special virtues, forever
Above the reach of the common herd.
Guests are impressed by this orderliness
Making them aware of their selfishness.
This pure poverty relies upon you
And what of pure duty?
Learning frugality begins with great effort,
Elevating feelings by lightening the load.
A good nest needs only one branch.
A divine nest, on flat lotus leaf.
I look up happily at one of the phoenix's generation
Giving himself over to lightly touch Heaven's waves.
Rustic gates don't hide the river.
Luo's color colder as it rises.
Morning's blue flows through the senses.
Evening's purity washes clean one's robes.
As for humanity and righteousness,
No feeling here of laboring upwards.
Far shore, impassable in the snow, when
Strong branches are howling in the wind.
Birds greet their neighbors in the frost.
I, too, am glad we are here.
Crags have their dangerous paths,
Tortuous windings through the wilds.
Distant woods have plenty of fine trees
For scattered nests of quiet birds.
Quiet dark moon on evening's shore.
Green river giving birth to dawn.
In vastness, you look down on the Luo
As the brings the waters of the Chu to mind.
No need to travel any further when
Careworn toil has filled the traveler's breast.
Dangerous paths of many awkward turnings
Lead to mountain gardens without raised fields.
Fragrant orchids and artimesia
Picked by hand calm the mind.
Two dabblers idly reading books
Like colts who won't take to the plow.
Company so good we forget to eat.
High spirits, how could they decline?
Ashamed of our faddish modern studies,
We wish we could be like ancient peasants.
Luoyang may be erupting in luxuriance
But I love this high country home.
Instead of fearful horses in the streets
Wild ducks fly above village gates.
Jade landscape more real than gravel, as on
Autumn breezes we float in emptiness.
Come out of all those myriad houses
And tend alone two acres of kitchen garden.
Instead of toiling decades on your writing,
Spend nine days in ten wielding a hoe.
Wielding a hoe, you wield yourself.
Encourage yourself and abundance is already there.
Revere the fruits of your orchards.
Empty wealth is the play of pride.
In night's landscape, one lies sleepless till morning.
Then daylight too soon disappears.
Governing the old requires new judgment.
Plowing the wastes births praiseworthy fields.
Plow well but be satisfied with what you have
And the heart's form will be unfettered and free.
Jade hooves split the crying river.
Gold ribbons suddenly shine on your gates.
Sweep clean the poor scholar's mat.
Bow, awaiting the prime minister's cart.
Virtue neglected is not elevated.
Gifts arrive from feelings of respect.
Who can realize the splendor of this day
And thereby honor all posterity?
How if you, for one bright morning
Bear alone the burden of these auspicious omens?
The southeast is abundant in wood and water.
Here desolation hides the splendor.
But this place is abundant in culture and
Just big enough for a team of fine horses.
Drifting snow is trodden flat
On a rough trail that changes as snow flies.
Your field begins to show color,
Lovely green rising through fine snow.
The Will of Heaven provides great care,
Although a sage might disagree.
The most unusual thing about this poem is Meng Jiao's uniform use of ten line verses. When had Meng Jiao ever done anything uniformly? I think I know what is going on here. We have seen this kind of poem from him a few times before where he praises the home or efforts of some friend. I think that Meng Jiao's poetry gives him entrance into many friendships. And when these friends ask him for a poem, he gives them what they want. In other words, he conforms his poetry to the taste of his friend. He can shake the foundations of the earth when he writes for himself. But he doesn't impose this on his friends. He must have been a very personable, yet strong-minded man.