Poems of Meng Jiao
With Graduate Yin, traveling south
Verses copied on our parting sleeves.
Wine blossoms staining our parting faces.
River journeying on a thousand leagues.
So many nights, anchoring on the banks.
Wind-blown leaves speaking of the fading trees.
Snowy apes shouting clearly from the hills.
Here in the south are many old legends.
Singing them, I begin to feel I should stay.
Did poets, on parting, write couplets on each other's sleeves? Maybe they did: "Here's a verse for the road..." The last line could also begin "Hearing them sung everywhere," which suggests the two are traveling down a populated part to the river, at least in part. Did they bring their wine with them or stop at wine shops? Possibly both. But we know from the parting poem to Li Ao that wineshops are scarce to the south. So they definitely packed their own wine. And the snowy apes (雪猿) are interesting. Meng Jiao seems to call different apes by name in opposition to most poets that just call them "gibbon" (猿). The Chinese, of course, doesn't stipulate all the present participles (all those "-ings"). I just like the way they sound and work in this translation.