Even though the moon seems to be disappearing from sight when it wanes, its nature of emitting light does not change from when it is full. It goes the same for a sword that is finally completed after constantly repeated processes of tempering and hammering. As it overcame tough processes, its nature of being hard and strong remains even if it is broken. The nature of a principled scholar is comparable to that of the moon and a sword in its steadiness. As his foundational nature remains the same despite the hardships and struggles, he does not turn away from his principles even in front of powerful authorities and wealth. He may give up his life, rather than continuing it without integrity. The poet seems disappointed with scholars around him who present themselves as those with big plans for their nation yet fail to demonstrate dignity and flatter those in power. His disappointment peaks through his choice of ‘missing things in the past’ as the topic of the poem. He must have wanted to reflect on the past by comparing the wisdom and intentions of ancient sages to those of the current.
Mei Yaochen wrote over 2,900 poems, showcasing various styles. He is also considered to have opened up the tradition of the Song dynasty’s satirical poems. He also compared the tyranny of courtiers whose power was “so massive as to overwhelm the mountains” to a ferocious tiger that “waves his tail like a flag and sharpens his teeth to use them as the blade of a knife.” Such boldness is the true embodiment of integrity demonstrated by a principled scholar.