Poems of Xue Tao
For Omissioner Wei
Some mistake the smell of books for Thorn Mountain jade.
That's like passing your imperial exams on the second try.
Quietly, a fresh wind will bring you beautiful things to write,
Floating flowers whose scattered petals will flatter Heaven.
I think Xue Tao is trying to cheer up a scholar who failed his exams the first try and only now has passed them and found a job. While the tests were somewhat objective, the jobs afterwards were fairly political in distribution. Sons of powerful families could get good first jobs, like Omissioner, even if they were a bit dim, exam-wise. The imperial exams were plenty serious though. Think Graduate Records Exams on steroids. I'm not sure that the first two lines are not a subtle put-down which our scholar was not clever enough to have noticed.