Poems of Meng Jiao
List of the Immortals: Refined and peaceful sages
With a crash, vain, refined, and peaceful,
They dither in the best of restaurants.
Precious by turns, stealing others' brilliance,
Riding the tiger in pursuit of drifting smoke.
A gentle wind ruffles their red banners.
Bright candles fill their rooms with light.
They loosen up in their forted houses
Where spirit bells chime like precious jewels.
Lonely landscape, like a forest of bare trunks.
Nine silk strings, played in vain.
I leave my testament of this world's sadness,
An explanation written in age-long sighs.
A joyful glance, already empty of desires.
A long night spent waiting on the dawn.
This is the second in Meng Jiao's brief List of the Immortals. I think I was both right and wrong in my judgment of the first one. These are not only self-effacing satires. They are also criticism of the literary world. It seems to me that Meng Jiao includes himself in this criticism, even though he distances himself from the more vain literati. He may point out that others are fiddling while Rome burns. But he always asks himself, "And what are you doing about it?"