Poems of Meng Jiao
A Parting Poem for Cui Chunliang
Eating water chestnuts til we're sick.
Forced singing without the sound of joy.
Leaving still has its problems.
Who says Heaven and Earth are vast?
It's too bad there are no distant places
Right here along Chang'an's big streets.
I know the worries and the dangers
That spring up on mountain ways.
Broken mirrors don't improve the light.
Dead orchids don't improve the smell.
I've come to know your mind, after
All this journeying so well together.
For your mind and mine,
Parting always slowly comes round again.
Like new shoots in a stream, in the
Bitter flow of a day already long.
Enduring these tears, my eyes soon ache.
Enduring these worries, my health is broken.
For my work, who could be stronger than you?
For inspiration, who could be better?
When I am missing you
Tears soak my skirts.
Ancients exhort us to have a snack.
But this tidbit is no help at all.
One meal -- nine chokes on happiness.
On sigh -- ten times a broken heart.
I'm complaining just like children --
My complaint is that you're fading away.
Your fading away makes it seem as if
Daylight were coming down as clear frost.
This morning, I gasp in wonder
At the empty vastness of the sky.
A parting poem for Meng Jiao's friend. The mirrors and orchids are probably an inside joke. And, yes, the ancients here are urging a snack on the broken-hearted. Whether they actually did this or not is left as an exercise for the reader. But I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere in the ancient texts one finds, "And when heart-broken, treat yourself to a Snickers bar (or the equivalent)." There is a certain wisdom in there.
The fading away, which is actually a combination of "the other person" and "color of nature in the distance" is pretty wonderful, as is daylight coming down as frost.
Someone, sometime, should do a long study, comparing the texts of history to the poems in order to determine just how weepy people were in the Tang. Going by the poems, very weepy. And given the violence of the times, not a weak weepiness at all. More of a "kill you and then sit down on your corpse and cry" weepiness.