Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/161

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149
MÊNG HAO-JAN


When a white palfrey passed
 with a saddle of gold,
And a damsel as fair
 as the fairest of old.

But she veiled so discreetly
 her charms from my eyes
That the boy who was with her
 quite felt for my sighs;
And although not a light-o'-love
 reckoned, I deem,
It was hard that this vision
 should pass like a dream."


Mêng Hao-Jan (A.D. 689–740) gave no sign in his youth of the genius that was latent within him. He failed at the public examinations, and retired to the mountains as a recluse. He then became a poet of the first rank, and his writings were eagerly sought after. At the age of forty he went up to the capital, and was one day conversing with his famous contemporary, Wang Wei, when suddenly the Emperor was announced. He hid under a couch, but Wang Wei betrayed him, the result being a pleasant interview with his Majesty. The following is a specimen of his verse:—

"The sun has set behind the western slope,
 The eastern moon lies mirrored in the pool;
With streaming hair my balcony I ope,
 And stretch my limbs out to enjoy the cool.
Loaded with lotus-scent the breeze sweeps by,
 Clear dripping drops from tall bamboos I hear,
I gaze upon my idle lute and sigh;
 Alas, no sympathetic soul is near.
And so I doze, the while before mine eyes
Dear friends of other days in dream-clad forms arise."


Equally famous as poet and physician was Wang Wei (A.D. 699–759). After a short spell of official life, he too