Poems of Meng Jiao
For Zhang Ji
We have yet to see the emperor's face.
We're worse than two blind men.
Trouble came to Emperor Wen Di
From spending his days in bitterness.
Even Confucious was blind,
Crying his unicorn's vain tears.
Sometimes, alone in meditation,
It seems as if being an official is a dream.
I speak like an official in my dreams
And afterwards feel that I am dust.
Luoyang only has eyes for wealth.
Chang'an is blind to its own poverty.
Blind, but still the walls have ears and
They know when the emperor's cart rumbles by.
Rumbling cart, sound of crushing jade.
On South Altar, offerings for the hundred spirits.
Behind Western Brightness temple, poor Zhang makes offerings, too.
Though you have eyes, who values you?
Emperor approaches but we avert our eyes.
Better to close eyes and cultivate the truth.
This is the second poem Meng Jiao has written to the younger poet Zhang Ji. Bai Juyi also esteemed Zhang Ji, who was an outsider and ended up alone, blind, and poor.
This poem takes a very unusual form. Two verses of different line lengths. One extra long line. I suspect this has something to do with Zhang Ji's poetry. Perhaps, Meng Jiao lending support to someone trying new ways.
There were two Emperor Wen Di, one in the Han and one in the Three Kingdoms. The unicorn is the lin whose picture may be found on the Kirin beer bottle.