Poems of Meng Jiao
Sent to Zhang Ji
Night's mirror, nothing can be seen.
Morning's gleam, when will it arise?
Sadly, autumn remembrances come and
Walk into an idealist's breast.
The idealist regrets time wasted.
One night. Three, four desires.
Pure Chinese in vain is good.
Muddy rivers end without clarity.
Old loves, suddenly, already far away.
New worries crowd around our chair.
You always hide your strong feelings.
I, too, avoid being defined.
Ancients, we treasure through the darkness.
Gentlemen avoid befriending factions.
Upset and defeat come from competition.
You go out to protect and come back stupid.
Transience -- how should it come?
Young water dragons will rise and soar.
Zhang Ji was a poet who lived from 767 to 830. He was sixteen years younger than Meng Jiao. He was also the subject of one of Bai Juyi's early poems, as the younger Bai Juyi looked up to the older Zhang Ji.
This is a poem of comfort from one poet to another. Unlike most Chinese poems, this one lent itself to a rather direct translation. In other words, the English is a pretty direct image of the Chinese. You can usually tell when this happens as the lines of translation remain uniformly short. I think this comes from this being a direct and heartfelt poem, without subtle undercurrents, allusions, subtexts.