Poems of Meng Jiao
Mourning Fang Fifteen, who had become Imperial Treasurer
Sun is high. I should get up and
Admire alone a bit of spring,
Cherish the circling warblers, the
Good news, and all those people.
In years gone by, this fragrance would
Have me wandering down to the river bank
Where I would meet Han Yu (the stubborn)
And we'd enjoy like-minded friends.
Down in Sichuan, idealistic, making
Clever arguments with well-honed wits.
How could those days be so joyful
When today makes so little sense?
The wonderful ones are all dying, their
Sights and sounds going down to dust.
Who said the old shed few tears when
These few tears a soaking my clothes?
Fang Fifteen must be one of Han Yu's coterie of idealists. The "fifteen" means he's the fifteenth in line for being family head of the Fangs. Or was, until he passed away.
Fifteen is also the number of days I have left with Meng Jiao. I've already been with Meng Jiao a few days longer than it took me to learn Chinese in the first place. Fourteen months spent working through the Defense Language Institute's and the Foreign Service Institute's Mandarin courses. About five semesters of college Chinese. Four or more hours a day, seven days a week. Meng Jiao's been about the same.
There are eleven more poems now. Only eleven. Nine short and two long. It is nice that the last poem is the longest remaining, four days of translation to make a lingering farewell. Then, I imagine, I too will have a few tears to stain my clothes.