Meng Jiao

Meet Meng Jiao

Meng Jiao ( 孟郊, 751–814)  was born in the eastern Chinese province of Huzhou near present day Shanghai. Little information is provided as to his early life. His father’s name is given as Meng Tingyi, and he is described as a beggar.* Meng Jiao’s birth in Hangzhou places him in the Yangtze River Delta near the economic hub of the Tang dynasty and its most important city Yangzhou.

In the same year as his birth, the imperial forces of the Tang empire were defeated first by the Arabs in present day Kazakhstan and then by the Tai people near present day Yunnan province. Four years later, the An Lushan Rebellion broke out, devastating the Chinese population and its economy. Compounding the problem, floods followed. In 760, during the rebellion, in Yangzhou Arab and Persian merchants were massacred by the thousands.

Meng apparently spent most of his early life as a recluse, taking the imperial examinations at some point in his 40’s. His official career must have been unremarkable for there is little information on his postings.

His most famous poem is Song of a Traveling Son, written in Liyang, Jiangsu Province, where he was a county official. The poem was written as a welcome for his mother’s visit to Liyang.

By the time of his death in 814, then Emperor Xianzong was well along with his campaign to curb the powers of regional warlords.

*Source Baidu, search term 孟郊.