Poems of Meng Jiao
Barbarian Gate Snow, for my master
(For Lu Changyuan, who wrote an answering poem.)
Barbarian gate, poor scholars, sky howling snow.
Barbarian gate, heroic scholars, drinking as we go.
Drunken voices, happy, idle, in the melting snow.
Snowy voices, impassioned now, sad at how things go.
Sad and happy don't mix, as we start to go.
Far away, spring winds, move the pale willow.
Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. It has been six months since I last rhymed. As they are in Chinese, and this is not pinyin, these six lines end in "schweh joe schao shyoe lie low." So I'm not so far off from the original. But many questions now arise beyond the realm of rhyme. Who was it he looked up to, if only for a time? (You caught that, right?) I mean, who is Meng Jiao calling "master" and trading non-regulated poetry with, this Lu Chang(or Zhang)yuan? With my limited resources, I can't find him. He's some kind of nonconformist like Meng Jiao if he's trading this style of rough and ready poetry. Most poetry exchanges are a kind of literate game, almost a Glass Bead Game, with lots of rules. This poem is half game-of-wit, half a stepping-on of the rules of literate poetry. And it's driven by lots of wine, which is rarely wine but mostly fruit liquors and sometimes designed to put the weak under the table and the strong in an intellectual uproar. The Russians, who will shoot each other in a liquor store over a Kantian viewpoint, will understand. At least they use non-lethal bullets, which is something Americans could learn from. A real man (or woman) uses a firearm to punctuate an argument, not simply to end it prematurely.