Poems of Meng Jiao
Arriving at Devotion Ferry, for the emperor's military affairs in our 25th year
You can't see what's right beside you.
In your heart, you sigh in vain.
Official streets, like muddy river bottoms,
Remnants of a broken way.
Few peaks are towers of white jade.
White-maned black horse, splendor of green jade.
Tower on the shore faces all directions.
Poetry is long neglected everywhere.
Old Wei River man, where are you going?
Only some of these stones are the emperor's.
How if we should come to speak of these things?
For you, the radiant clouds would part.
A prudent translator would avoid this poem. Call me fearless. Or stupid. Let us proceed.
This poem seems to go with the last one. By the monastery, there is a ferry crossing and it's name is Devotion (孝义). Meng Jiao plays on this name in the last poem. It's just the name of the crossing in this title.
Zheng (郑) is a Warring State. It's also the first person pronoun the emperor uses for himself. There are other Warring State bits in this poem. The poem is (probably) a criticism of the current emperor by comparing him to the emperor during the An Lushan rebellion's chaos and the Warring State bits are part of Meng Jiao's plausible deniability which apparently works, his head remaining attached to his neck for the remainder of his life, unlike other poets' heads.
The other part of the plausible deniability is this poem's being a string of allusions which are now more or less impossible to trace. A legendary white-maned black horse -- which legend? A tower on the shore -- which shore? Zheng's stones -- in the Wei River? I can do something with the "neglected poetry" line, however. It's not much a stretch to make the line read: "The statecraft of Laozi (Daodejing) is long neglected." Not that making sense of one out of twelve lines helps.
Another possibility is that the "sobering up alone" from the last poem is still in progress and this is in all actuality a drunken poem which truly makes no sense. It could happen. And Meng Jiao could have kept it because it made him laugh when he sobered up. And the Ming scribes, like the good little proto-Xerox-machines that they were, could have faithfully copied it into the scrolls. It would be nice if this were (probably isn't) a drunken nonsense poem. It would be nice for once if my inability to make sense of a poem were actually due to its not having a sense.