Poems of Meng Jiao
Presented, with other court worthies, to the Korean ambassador
Gazing towards a vast and distant sea,
A single duckweed amongst all these begonias.
Conferring favor, beyond the call of duty, yet
In your dreams are the great eastern billows.
Breakers on the shore stir your deep feelings,
As if your bark were floating on the void.
Already, here, your chant relies on faith and,
With us, it is hard to be yourself.
All this strangeness was hard to enjoy even though
Freah experiences brought much happiness.
The dangers of your office weigh upon you and
Who can lighten the burden of your journey.
Other common men flatter themselves cultured
But this court has its heroes of blessed talent.
We send with you some hundreds of these,
Each known for his amazing accomplishments.
As your servant, I produce these verses, so that
when alone you may think of seeing us again.
An official farewell poem for the emissary from the Korean kingdom of Silla. Silla eventually conquered its neighbors with the help of the Tang. One supposes that, in addition to a few hundred scholars, the ambassador may have had an escort of some more-than-few thousand soldiers of the Tang. Northern Korean kingdoms have more than once allied themselves with the Chinese to gain dominance over their enemies. And while they may have gained genuine cultural benefits from becoming somewhat sinified, I think they may have given up too much of their own Korean identity in return for the ephemera of power.
Note: in line 2, I give you a nuance of "A single duckweed upon an autumn sea." A duckweed is a traveler or wanderer and the ambassador (a single duckweed) would have felt surrounded by foreigners (the begonias, from 秋海花). The whole poem, apart from the official message, shows Meng Jiao's empathy for someone far from home.