Classic of Poetry

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The Classic of Poetry, also Shijing or Shih-ching, translated variously as the Book of Songs, Book of Odes, or simply known as the Odes or Poetry is the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, comprising 305 works dating from the 11th to 7th centuries BC. It is one of the "Five Classics" traditionally said to have been compiled by Confucius, and has been studied and memorized by scholars in China and neighboring countries over two millennia. Since the Qing dynasty, its rhyme patterns have also been analysed in the study of Old Chinese phonology.

Book of Odes[edit]

I., 1, i.[edit]

By riverside are cooing
A pair of turtledoves;
A good young man is wooing
A maiden fair he loves.
  • 關關雎鳩,在河之洲。
    窈窕淑女,君子好逑。
    • "Guan! Guan!" go the ospreys,
      On the islet in the river.
      The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady:
      For our prince a good mate she.
      • trans. James Legge (1871)
    • Waterfowl their mates are calling,
      On the islets in the stream.
      Chaste and modest maid! fit partner,
      For our lord (thyself we deem).
      • trans. William Jennings (1891)
    • On the river-island—
      The ospreys are echoing us
      Where is the pure-hearted girl
      To be our princess?
      • trans. Witter Bynner (1920)
    • "Fair, fair," cry the ospreys
      On the island in the river.
      Lovely is this noble lady,
      Fit bride for our lord.
      • trans. Arthur Waley (1937)
    • Merrily the ospreys cry,
      On the islet in the stream.
      Gentle and graceful is the girl,
      A fit wife for the gentleman.
      • trans. Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang (1955)
    • Gwan! Gwan! cry the fish hawks
      on sandbars in the river:
      a mild-mannered good girl,
      fine match for the gentleman.
      • trans. Burton Watson (1984)
    • By riverside are cooing
      A pair of turtledoves;
      A good young man is wooing
      A maiden fair he loves.
      • trans. Yuanchong Xu (1992)

I., 1, vi.[edit]

The peach tree is young and elegant;
Brilliant are its flowers.
This young lady is going to her future home,
And will order well her chamber and house.
  • 桃之夭夭,灼灼其華。
    之子于歸,宜其室家。
    • The peach tree is young and elegant;
      Brilliant are its flowers.
      This young lady is going to her future home,
      And will order well her chamber and house.
      • trans. James Legge

I., 2, ix.[edit]

  • 摽有梅,其實七兮。
    求我庶士,迨其吉兮。

    摽有梅,其實三兮。
    求我庶士,迨其今兮。

    摽有梅,頃筐塈之。
    求我庶士,迨其謂之。

    • Plop fall the plums; but there are still seven.
      Let those gentlemen that would court me
      Come while it is lucky!

      Plop fall the plums; there are still three.
      Let any gentleman that would court me
      Come before it is too late!

      Plop fall the plums; in shallow baskets we lay them.
      Any gentleman who would court me
      Had better speak while there is time.

      • trans. Arthur Waley

I., 2, xii.[edit]

  • 舒而脫脫兮,無感我帨兮,無使尨也吠。
    • [She says], Slowly; gently, gently;
      Do not move my handkerchief;
      Do not make my dog bark.
      • trans. James Legge

I., 3, i.[edit]

  • 汎彼柏舟,亦汎其流。
    耿耿不寐,如有隱憂。
    • Tossed is that cypress boat,
      Wave-tossed it floats.
      My heart is in turmoil, I cannot sleep.

      But secret is my grief.
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 微我無酒,以敖以遊。
    • Nor wine, nor sport
      Can ease my pain.
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 我心匪鑒,不可以茹。
    • My heart is not a mirror,
      To reflect what others will.
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 亦有兄弟,不可以據。
    薄言往愬,逢彼之怒。
    • I, indeed, have brothers,
      I cannot depend on them,
      I meet with their anger.
      • trans. James Legge
  • 我心匪石,不可轉也。
    我心匪席,不可卷也。
    • My heart is not a stone,
      To be rolled aside;
      My heart is not a mat,
      To be folded away.
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 憂心悄悄,慍于群小。
    覯閔既多,受侮不少。
    靜言思之,寤辟有摽。
    • My heart is dull with dread;
      I am girt around
      With the scorn of little men.
      Much torment have I seen,
      Much insolence endured,
      Have sunk in idle thought
      And, waking, beat my breast.
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 日居月諸,胡迭而微。
    心之憂矣,如匪澣衣。
    • O sun, ah, moon,
      Why are you changed and dim?
      Sorrow clings to me
      Like an unwashed dress.
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 靜言思之,不能奮飛。
    • Silently I think of my case,
      But I cannot spread my wings and fly away.
      • trans. James Legge

I., 3, v.[edit]

  • 終風且暴,顧我則笑。
    謔浪笑敖,中心是悼。

    終風且霾,惠然肯來。
    莫往莫來,悠悠我思。

    終風且曀,不日有曀。
    寤言不寐,願言則嚏。

    曀曀其陰,虺虺其靁。
    寤言不寐,願言則懷。
    • All day the wind blew wild.
      You looked at me and laughed;
      But your jest was lewdness and your laughter mockery.
      Sick was my heart within.

      All day the wind blew with a whirl of dust.
      Kindly you seemed to come,
      Came not, nor went away.
      Long, long I think of you.

      The dark wind will not suffer
      Clean skies to close the day.
      Cloud trails on cloud. Oh, cruel thoughts!
      I lie awake and moan.

      The sky is black with clouds;
      The far-off thunder rolls;
      I have woken and cannot sleep, for the thought of you
      Fills all my heart with woe.
      • trans. Arthur Waley

I., 3, vi.[edit]

  • 死生契闊,與子成說。
    執子之手,與子偕老。
    • For life or for death, however separated,
      To our wives we pledged our word.
      We held their hands;—
      We were to grow old together with them.
      • trans. James Legge

I., 5, i.[edit]

  • 有匪君子,如切如磋,如琢如磨。
    • There is our elegant and accomplished prince,—
      As from the knife and the file,
      As from the chisel and the polisher!
      • trans. James Legge

I., 5, vii.[edit]

"The one who is longing strongly is daunted by no difficulties", Bernhard Karlgren, The Book of Odes (1950), p. 43
  • 誰謂河廣,一葦杭之。
    誰謂宋遠,跂予望之。

    誰謂河廣,曾不容刀。
    誰謂宋遠,曾不崇朝。
    • Who says that the [river] Ho is wide?
      With (a bundle of) reeds I can cross it.
      Who says that Sung is distant?
      On tiptoe I can see it.

      Who says that the Ho is wide?
      It will not admit a little boat.
      Who says that Sung is distant?
      It would not take a whole morning to reach it.
      • trans. James Legge

I., 5, x.[edit]

  • 投我以木桃,报之以琼瑶。
    匪报也,永以为好也。
    • There was presented to me a peach,
      And I returned for it a beautiful Yao-gem;
      Not as a return for it,
      But that our friendship might be lasting.
      • trans. James Legge

I., 6, i.[edit]

  • 知我者,谓我心忧,不知我者,谓我何求。
    悠悠苍天,此何人哉。
    • Those who knew me,
      Said I was sad at heart.
      Those who did not know me,
      Said I was seeking for something.
      O distant and azure Heaven!
      By what man was this [brought about]?
      • trans. James Legge

I., 6, viii.[edit]

  • 彼采蕭兮。
    一日不見,如三秋兮。
    • To gather reed goes she.
      When her I do not see,
      One day seems long as seasons three.
      • trans. Yuanchong Xu

I., 7, xvi.[edit]

  • 风雨如晦,鸡鸣不已。
    既见君子,云胡不喜。
    • Through the wind and rain all looks dark,
      And the cock crows without ceasing.
      But I have seen my husband,
      And how should I not rejoice?
      • trans. James Legge

I., 7, xvii.[edit]

  • 青青子衿,悠悠我心。
    • Oh, you with the blue collar,
      On and on I think of you.
      • trans. Arthur Waley

I., 8, iv.[edit]

  • 東方之日兮。
    彼姝者子,在我室兮。
    在我室兮,履我即兮。
    • The eastern sun is red;
      The maiden like a bloom
      Follows me to my room.
      The maiden in my room
      Follows me to my bed.
      • trans. Yuanchong Xu

I., 10, i.[edit]

  • 蟋蟀在堂,歲聿其莫。
    今我不樂,日月其除。
    • The cricket is in the hall,
      And the year is drawing to a close.
      If we do not enjoy ourselves now,
      The days and months will be leaving us.
      • trans. James Legge

I., 10, ii.[edit]

You have wine and food, why do you forget
Sometimes to play your lute,
Sometimes to laugh and sing,
Sometimes to steal new playtime from the night?
Shall it be so till you are dead
And others have your house?
  • 山有樞,隰有榆。
    子有衣裳,弗曳弗婁。
    子有車馬,弗馳弗驅。
    宛其死矣,他人是愉。
    • There grows an elm-tree on the hill,
      And by the mere an alder-tree—
      You have a coat, but do not wear it,
      You have a gown, but do not trail it,
      You have a horse, but do not ride it,
      A coach, but do not drive it,
      So will it be till you are dead
      And others can enjoy them!
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 山有漆,隰有栗。
    子有酒食,何不日鼓瑟。
    且以喜樂,且以永日。
    宛其死矣,他人入室。
    • There grows a gum-tree on the hill,
      And by the mere a chestnut-tree.
      You have wine and food, why do you forget
      Sometimes to play your lute,
      Sometimes to laugh and sing,
      Sometimes to steal new playtime from the night?
      Shall it be so till you are dead
      And others have your house?
      • trans. Arthur Waley

I., 11, iv.[edit]

  • 蒹葭蒼蒼,白露為霜。
    所謂伊人,在水一方。
    • Thick grow the rush leaves;
      Their white dew turns to frost.
      He whom I love
      Must be somewhere along this stream.
      • trans. Arthur Waley

I., 12, viii.[edit]

The moon comes forth in her brightness;
How lovely is that beautiful lady!
O to have my deep longings for her relieved!
How anxious is my toiled heart!
  • 月出皎兮,佼人僚兮。
    舒窈纠兮,劳心悄兮。
    • The moon comes forth in her brightness;
      How lovely is that beautiful lady!
      O to have my deep longings for her relieved!
      How anxious is my toiled heart!
      • trans. James Legge

I., 15, v.[edit]

  • 伐柯伐柯,其則不遠。
    • In hewing an axe-handle, in hewing an axe-handle,
      The pattern is not far off.
      • trans. James Legge

II., 1, vii.[edit]

  • 昔我往矣,杨柳依依。
    今我来思,雨雪霏霏。
    • When I left here,
      Willows shed tear.
      I come back now,
      Snow bends the bough.
      • trans. Yuanchong Xu

II., 3, x.[edit]

  • 它山之石,可以攻玉。
    • Stones from other hills may serve to polish the jade of this one.
      • trans. unknown

II., 4, viii.[edit]

  • 彼有旨酒,又有嘉殽。
    洽比其鄰,昏姻孔云。
    念我獨兮,憂心慇慇。
    • They drink good wine,
      They eat fine food,
      Build houses side by side,
      Kinsmen by marriage,
      They make cause together.
      But I am all alone,
      In sorrow and dismay.
      • trans. Arthur Waley
  • 佌佌彼有屋,蔌蔌方有穀。
    民今之無祿,天夭是椓。
    哿矣富人,哀此惸獨。
    • Mean-like, those have their houses;
      Abjects, they will have their emoluments.
      But the people now have no maintenance.
      For Heaven is pounding them with its calamities,
      The rich may get through,
      But alas for the helpless and solitary!
      • trans. ‎James Legge

II., 4, ix.[edit]

  • 高岸为谷,深谷为陵。
    • High banks become valleys;
      Deep valleys become hills.
      • trans. James Legge

II., 5, iv.[edit]

Swiftly runs the crafty hare,
But it is caught by the hound.
  • 他人有心,予忖度之。
    躍躍毚兔,遇犬獲之。
    • What other men have in their minds,
      I can measure by reflection.
      Swiftly runs the crafty hare,
      But it is caught by the hound.
      • trans. James Legge

II., 7, iv.[edit]

  • 高山仰止,景行行止。
    • The high hill is looked up to;
      The great road is easy to be travelled on.
      • trans. James Legge

III., 2, x.[edit]

  • 多将熇熇,不可救药 。
    • But the troubles will multiply like flames,
      Till they are beyond help or remedy.
      • trans. James Legge

III., 3, ii.[edit]

When one throws to me a peach,
I return to him a plum.
  • 投我以桃,報之以李。
    • When one throws to me a peach,
      I return to him a plum.
      • trans. James Legge

III., 3, x.[edit]

  • 人有土田,女反有之。
    人有民人,女覆奪之。
    此宜無罪,女反收之。
    彼宜有罪,女覆說之。
    • Some had fields and lands,
      But you have taken them away.
      Some had serfs and servants,
      But you have laid hands upon them.
      Some were innocent and you have bound them;
      Some were guilty and you have pleaded for them.
      • trans. Arthur Waley

External links[edit]