Poems of Meng Jiao
In this western city, up against the sunset, the
Common people plead for better treatment.
A wanderer, alone and thirsty, still has to pay
Some landlord for each dipper from a spring.
Beacon fires burn beyond the blue-grey clouds.
And horseherds graze the high green slopes.
Where do these wild birds rush off to in their dreams?
Do thoughts of home make them yearn for sleep?
When Meng Jiao writes about the "West" it is similar to those days when the "western" United States ran from Appalachia to the western border of Ohio. Only in China, the West was slung to the south, where in America it was slung to the north. To maintain the comparison -- where America had only primitives from Ohio to the Pacific and was free to expand, China had formidable enemies on every border. Uighur hordes to the northwest. Tibetan armies to the west. And various Asian states all along the south. As an example, the long history of China versus Vietnam is one of China pushing south and getting its ass handed back to it on a platter by the Annamese, over and over again up to the present day. The history of the Tang, after a brief flourish of a beginning, is largely a tale of crumbling around the edges while the people at the top fought over who got to be the Son of Heaven.