Poems of Meng Jiao
In Daliang, escorting Liu Chunxian through the gates
As dust rolls off the blue hills,
Daylight finds no man idle.
Since ancient times, big carriages here
Have jostled, heading west towards Qin.
King's Gate and Nobles' Gate
Serve the rich but not the poor.
Futilely, you carry off one bundle of scrolls.
But having left, who will be your friend?
Daliang was once the Warring States capital of Wei. Heading west, the two men are probably leaving through the Barbarian Gate. Qin was the victor of the Warring States period and the first imperial dynasty, which lasted about fifteen minutes, historically speaking. It came apart when troops, sent to the north, were delayed by a flooding river. Rather than report for duty late and be beheaded, they revolted. Long story short, end of Qin.
What strikes me in this poem, as in other later poems of Meng Jiao, is his honest voice of hard experience. In hard times, you futilely carry off with you what little you can. The hard times serve as a forcing function to further reduce what you can keep. You learn what is of value and what is not. You soon find that the books you thought you would treasure have nothing of value to offer, no strength to lend in extremity. The next time you fall through the cracks, you choose better books.
This process, not the arbitrary choices of old white male professors, is how the "classics" come down to us. Books unworthy of being preserved in the lonely friendless darkness are not literature. They are the voices of futility.