Poems of Meng Jiao
An admonition to my sixteen brothers to be devoted and loyal, respectfully sent as I take the ferry.
Morning ferry. Mind empty and bright.
Rosy clouds floating overhead.
Wild ducks startle up in pairs.
Who will accompany me as I leave the immortals?
Drunk at parting. Sobering up alone.
Parting worries, hard to put behind.
Your culture pure, without equal.
Your piety precious, more than I should say.
River's official offers up the seal ink.
Ocean's flags cut through common haggardness.
Realize what gift is truly great and
Walk firmly into a higher understanding.
Because the river goes and cannot return,
I gaze ahead into empty loneliness.
This, I think, is Meng Jiao parting from his younger brothers who he was remembering three poems back in a miscollated poem.
The poem is straightforward until the third verse. There must be Buddhist vocabulary in this verse which evades my dictionaries. I would think that Meng Jiao is the "river official" (江吏). 紫泥 is the purple seal ink for official seals. Possibly this has Buddhist connatations. No clue as to the "ocean's flags." 红蕉 is problematic. 红 is "red" but also "popular" in which case it is more conceptual than 俗, which is "common people." And 蕉 means "banana" in one pronunciation, which gives us "Ocean banners cut the red banana." So we go with the other pronunciation of 蕉 which gives us "haggard" or "withered." 红蕉 is possibly a Buddhist bigram. Or a clerical typo from the Ming dynasty. Or something. 太守礼 is also Buddhist, I think, having some meaning like the "great gift of the Law." Capitalized "Law" is the Buddhist sense of God in some scriptures. God as Infinite Principle. And then there's 毗陵桥. This is made up of "the thing that is right next to you", "high ground", and "bridge" which I have translated in a figurative or spiritual sense.