Poems of Meng Jiao
For Qian Prefecture's Magistrate's Aid of Chu
It's long been said, of all the mountains,
Half are in beautiful Qian.
I've also heard, of all the springs,
Half flow singing through Qian.
Nature's beauty certainly surrounds
The gentlemen walking in its midst.
Confucian virtues are everywhere evident,
Undisturbed by vulgar customs.
I wish for a Middle Kingdom spring
That would come and make everything new.
Turn the old ways of poisonous dark flowers
Into new ways of splendid bright courage.
Let honesty send out its green vines.
Let cool rapids flow down with pure voices.
Let this landscape set everyone free
And the senses be joined in its vastness.
The magistrate is yet surrounded by virtuous men
And great pearls are yet hidden in his spirit.
The long road ahead cannot be seen
And the day is already full of corruption.
Where will this year's peace come from?
The leaves fall sweetly of their own accord.
I have no great confidence in my title for this poem. Qian today is a name for Guizhou. Chu was a large state comprising probably three of today's provinces to the northeast of Qian. But in the Zhou period, Qian was the kingdom of Shu and was conquered by Qin. Shu may have aided Chu. But mostly it got pushed west and south by Chu's expansion until it was eventually eaten by Qin. The aiding of Chu by Shu may be lost to us. It's certainly lost to me.
It is possible that this poem is a personal musing of Meng Jiao on the political situation in the south. But the tone here seems semi-official or semi-flowery or semi-something which makes me think it is a another semi-official poem requested of Meng Jiao by his superiors to semi-influence the governor of Guizhou. Perhaps Meng Jiao knew the governor. Perhaps the governor was known for his interest in the Chu kingdom and its history. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. It just seems semi-official to me.