Poems of Meng Jiao
Accompanying Han Yu on his way to join the army
Man of ideals feels sympathies rising
As he changes his clothes but not his heart.
Close friends observe his new appearance
And even the servants show new respect.
Meditating, he sings the common songs.
Walking, he chants of lonely swords.
He begins to know the basis of his mind
As he maintains his lifelong integrity.
Heaven and Earth are sad in autumn's chill.
Cavalry horses, shivering and afraid, await orders.
Time flies like the dust behind a post horse
And all things are colored by silence.
The king's troops do not want war.
The courtiers urge him not to fight.
They incline to the thought of Wang Can.
But, like Yuan Yu, they follow orders.
War justified, a call to arms, and now
One million hearts are decided.
This morning, amid these drums and banners,
I smile goodbye to a fine brave man.
Han Yu is Meng Jiao's friend from mutual test-failing days. He is almost twenty years Meng's junior and appears to have been conscripted into one of the many mid-Tang wars. Wang Can was a Han dynasty poet and politician who followed Cao Cao and was called on to establish laws. (For a nice portrayal of Cao Cao, watch Jiang Wen's performance in Guan Yu with Donnie Yen.) Poetic symmetry and the 百家姓 suggest that Yuan Yu, in the line following Wang Can's, is also a person's name. Otherwise we are left with "Original flawless gem first obeys orders" which could be the case as metaphor.