Shi Jing Introduction Table of content – The Book of Odes

The oldest collection of Chinese poetry, more than three hundred songs, odes and hymns. Tr. Legge (en) and Granet (fr, incomplete).

Section II — Minor odes of the kingdom
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chapter 5 — Decade of Xiao Min

195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204

Shijing II. 5. (195)

The angry terrors of Compassionate Heaven,
Extend through this lower world ;
[The king's] counsels and plans are crooked and bad ; –
When will he stop [in the course] ?
Counsels which are good he will not follow,
And those which are not good he employs,
When I look at his counsels and plans,
I am greatly pained.

Now they agree, and now they defame one another ; –
The case is greatly to be deplored.
If a counsel be good,
They all are found opposing it.
If a counsel be bad,
They all are found according with it.
When I look at such counsels and plans,
What will they come to ?

Our tortoises are wearied out,
And will not tell us anything about the plans.
The counsellors are very many,
But on that account nothing is accomplished.
The speakers fill the court,
But who dares to take any responsibility on himself ?
We are as if we consulted [about a journey] without taking a step in advance,
And therefore did not get on on the road.

Alas ! our formers of plans,
Do not take the ancients for their pattern,
And do not regulate them by great principles.
They only hearken to shallow words,
And quarrel about shallow words,
They are like one taking counsel with wayfarers about building a house.
Which will consequently never come to completion.

Although the kingdom be unsettled,
There are some who are wise, and others who are not.
Although the people may not be numerous,
Some have perspicacity, some have counsel,
Some have gravity, and some have orderliness.
But we are going on like the stream flowing from a spring,
And will sink together in a common ruin.

They dare not without weapons attack a tiger ;
They dare not without a boat cross the He.
They know one thing,
But they only know that one.
We should be apprehensive and careful,
As if we were on the brink of a deep gulf,
As if we were treading on thin ice.

Legge 195

[Xref] Lunyu VIII. 3. quotes Shijing II. 5. (195)
gbog – Lunyu 191 – 2005/12/02

Shijing II. 5. (196)

Small is the cooing dove,
But it flies aloft up to heaven.
My heart is wounded with sorrow,
And I think of our forefathers.
When the dawn is breaking, and I cannot sleep,
The thoughts in my breast are of our parents.

Men who are grave and wise,
Though they drink, are mild and masters of themselves ;
But those who are benighted and ignorant,
Are devoted to drink, and more so daily.
Be careful, each of you, of your deportment ; –
What Heaven confers, [when once lost], is not regained.

In the midst of the plain there is pulse,
And the common people gather it.
The mulberry insect has young ones,
And the sphex carries them away.
Teach and train your sons,
And they will become good as you are.

Look at the wagtail,
Flying, and at the same time twittering.
My days are advancing ;
Your months are going on.
Rising early and going to sleep late,
Do not disgrace those who gave you birth.

The greenbeaks come and go,
Pecking up grain about the stack-yard.
Alas for the distressed and solitary,
Deemed fit inmates for the prisons !
With a handful of grain I go out and divine,
How I may be able to become good.

We must be mild, and humble,
As if we were perched on trees.
We must be anxious and careful,
As if we were on the brink of a valley.
We must be apprehensive and cautious,
As if we were treading upon thin ice.

Legge 196

Shijing II. 5. (197)

With flapping wings the crows,
Come back, flying all in a flock.
Other people all are happy,
And I only am full of misery.
What is my offence against Heaven ?
What is my crime ?
My heart is sad ; –
What is to be done ?

The way to Zhou should be level and easy,
But it is all overgrown with rank grass.
My heart is wounded with sorrow,
And I think till I feel as if pounded [all over].
I lie down undressed, and sigh continually ;
Through my grief I am growing old.
My heart is sad ; –
It puts me in pain like a headache.

Even the mulberry trees and the Zi,
Must be regarded with reverence :
But no one is to be looked up to like a father ;
No one is to be depended on like a mother.
Have I not a connection with the hairs [of my father] ?
Did I not dwell in the womb [of my mother] ?
O Heaven who gave me birth !
How was it at such an inauspicious time ?

Luxuriant grow those willows,
And the cicadas [on them] go hui-hui.
Deep looks the pool,
And abundantly grow the rushes and reeds [about it],
[But] I am like a boat adrift, –
Where it will go you know not.
My heart is sad ; –
I have not leisure to lie down [even] undressed.

The stag is running away,
But his legs move slowly.
The pheasant crows in the morning,
Seeking his mate.
I am like a ruined tree,
Stript by disease of all its branches.
My heart is sad ; –
How is it that no one knows me ?

Look at the hare seeking protection ; –
Some one will step in before and save it.
One the road there is a dead man ;
Some one will bury him.
[But] such is the heart of our sovereign,
That there is nothing he cannot bear to do.
My heart is sad,
So that my tears are falling down.

Our sovereign believes slanders,
As readily as he joins in the pledge cup.
Our sovereign is unkind,
And does not leisurely examine into things.
The tree-fellers follow the lean of the tree ;
The faggot-cleavers follow the direction of the grain ;
[But] he lets alone the guilty,
And imputes guilt to me.

There is nothing higher than a mountain ;
There is nothing deeper than a [great] spring.
Our sovereign should not lightly utter his words,
Lest an ear be laid close to the wall.
Do not approach my dam ;
Do not remove my basket.
My person is rejected ; –
Of what use is it to care for what may come after ?

Legge 197

Shijing II. 5. (198)

O vast and distant Heaven,
Who art called our parent,
That without crime or offence,
I should suffer from disorders thus great !
The terrors of great Heaven are excessive,
But indeed I have committed no crime.
[The terrors of] great Heaven are very excessive,
But indeed I have committed no offence.

Disorder then comes to the birth,
When the first untruth is received.
Its further increase,
Is from our sovereign's believing the slanderers.
If he were to be angry [with them],
The disorder would probably quickly be abated ;
If he were to show his joy [in the good],
The disorder would probably quickly cease.

Our sovereign makes frequent covenants,
And the disorders are thereby increased.
He believes the scoundrels,
And the disorders thereby grow into oppression.
Their words are very sweet,
And the disorders thereby advance.
They do not discharge their duties,
But only create distress to the king.

Very grand is the ancestral temple ; –
A true sovereign made it.
Wisely arranged are the great plans ; –
Sages determined them.
What other men have in their minds,
I can measure by reflection.
Swiftly runs the crafty hare,
But it is caught by the hound.

Trees of soft wood, easily wrought,
Are planted by wise men.
The words of way-farers that come and go,
Can be discriminated by the mind.
Their easy and grand words,
[Only] issue from their mouths.
Their artful words, like organ-tongues,
Show how unblushing are their faces.

Who are they ?
They [are like men who] dwell on the banks of the river ;
And they have neither strenghth nor courage,
While yet they rear the steps of disorder !
With legs ulcerated and swollen,
What courage can you have ?
You form plans great and many,
But your followers about you are few.

Legge 198

Shijing II. 5. (199)

What man was that ?
His mind is full of dangerous devices.
Why did he approach my dam,
Without entering my gate ?
Of whom is he a follower ?
I venture to say, – of Bao.

Those two follow each other in their goings ; –
Which of them wrought me this calamity ?
Why came he to my dam,
Without entering to condole with me ?
Our former relations were different from the present,
When he will have nothing to do with me.

What man was it ?
Why came he to the path inside my gate ?
I heard his voice,
But did not see his person.
He is not ashamed before men ;
He does not stand in awe of Heaven.

What man was it ?
He is like a violent wind.
Why came he not from the north ?
Or why not from the south ?
Why did he approach my dam,
Doing nothing but perturb my mind ?

You go along slowly,
And yet you have not leisure to stop !
You go along rapidly,
And yet you have leisure to grease your wheels !
If you would come to me but once ! –
Why am I kept in a state of expectation ?

If on your return you entered my house,
My heart would be relieved.
When on your return you do not enter it,
It is hard to understand your denial.
If you would come to me but once,
It would set me at rest.

The elder of us blew the porcelain whistle,
And the younger blew the bamboo flute ;
I was as if strung on the same string with you.
If indeed you do not understand me,
Here are the three creatures [for sacrifice],
And I will take an oath to you.

If you were an imp or a water-bow,
You could not be got at.
But when one with face and eyes stands opposite to another,
The man can be seen through and through.
I have made this good song,
To probe to the utmost your veerings and turnings.

Legge 199

Shijing II. 5. (200)

A few elegant lines,
May be made out to be shell-embroidery.
Those slanderers,
Have gone to great excess.

A few diverging points,
May be made out to be the southern Sieve.
Those slanderers !
Who devised their schemes for them ?

With babbling mouths you go about,
Scheming and wishing to slander others,
[But] be careful of your words ; –
[People] will [yet] say that you are untruthful.

Clever you are, and ever changing.
In your schemes and wishes to slander.
They receive it [now] indeed,
But by and by it will turn to your own hurt.

The proud are delighted,
And the troubled are in sorrow.
O azure Heaven ! O azure Heaven !
Look on those proud men,
Pity those troubled.

Those slanderers !
Who devised their schemes for them ?
I would take those slanderers,
And throw them to wolves and tigers.
If these refused to devour them,
I would cast them into the north.
If the north refused to receive them,
I would throw them into the hands of great [Heaven].

The way through the willow garden,
Lies near the acred height.
I, the eunuch Meng-zi,
Have made this poem.
All ye officers,
Reverently hearken to it.

Legge 200

Shijing II. 5. (201)

Gently blows the east wind ; –
The wind followed by the rain.
In the time of fear and dread,
It was all I and you.
In your time of rest and pleasure,
You have turned and cast me off.

Gently blows the east wind ; –
And the wind is followed by the tornado.
In the time of fear and dread,
You placed me in your breast.
In your time of rest and pleasure,
You have cast me off like an abandoned thing.

Gently blows the east wind ; –
And on the rock-covered tops of the hills.
There is no grass which is not dying,
No tree which is not withering.
You forget my great virtues,
And think of my small faults.

Legge 201

Shijing II. 5. (202)

Long and large grows the e ; –
It is not the e but the hao.
Alas ! alas ! my parents,
With what toil ye gave me birth !

Long and large grows the e ; –
It is not the e but the wei.
Alas ! alas ! my parents,
With what toil and suffering ye gave me birth !

When the pitcher is exhausted,
It is the shame of the jar.
Than to live an orphan,
It would be better to have been long dead.
Fatherless, who is there to rely on ?
Motherless, who is there to depend on ?
When I go abroad, I carry my grief with me ;
When I come home, I have no one to go to.

O my father, who begat me !
O my mother, who nourished me !
Ye indulged me, ye fed me,
Ye held me up, ye supported me,
Ye looked after me, ye never left me,
Out and in ye bore me in your arms.
If I would return your kindness,
It is like great Heaven, illimitable,

Cold and bleak is the Southern hill ;
The rushing wind is very fierce.
People all are happy ; –
Why am I alone thus miserable ?

The Southern hill is very steep ;
The rushing wind is blustering.
People all are happy ; –
I alone have been unable to finish [my duty].

Legge 202

Shijing II. 5. (203)

Well loaded with millet were the dishes,
And long and curved were spoons of thorn-wood.
The way to Zhou was like a whetstone,
And straight as an arrow.
[So] the officers trod it,
And the common people looked on it.
When I look back and think of it,
My tears run down in streams.

In the States of the east, large and small,
The looms are empty.
Thin shoes of dolichos fibre,
Are made to serve to walk on the hoar-frost.
Slight and elegant gentlemen,
Walk along that road to Zhou.
Their going and coming,
Makes my heart ache.

Ye cold waters, issuing variously from the spring,
Do not soak the firewood I have cut.
Sorrowful I awake and sigh ; –
Alas for us toiled people !
The firewood has been cut ; –
Would that it were conveyed home !
Alas for us the toiled people !
Would that we could have rest !

The sons of the east,
Are only summoned [to service], without encouragement ;
While the sons of the west,
Shine in splendid dresses.
The sons of boatmen,
Have furs of the bear and grisly bear.
The sons of the poorest families,
Form the officers in public employment.

If we present them with spirits,
They do not look on them as liquor.
If we give them long girdle-pendants with their stones,
They do not think them long enough.
There is the milky way in heaven,
Which looks down on us in light ;
And the three stars together are the Weaving Sisters,
Passing in a day through seven stages [of the sky].

Although they go through their seven stages,
They complete no bright work for us.
Brilliant shine the Draught Oxen,
But they do not serve to draw our carts.
In the east there is Lucifer ;
In the west there is Hesperus ;
Long and curved is the Rabbit Net of th esky ; –
But they only occupy their places.

In the south is the Sieve,
But it is of no use to sift.
In the north is the Ladle,
But it lades out no liquor.
In the south is the Sieve,
Idly showing its mouth.
In the north is the Ladle,
Raising its handle in the west.

Legge 203

Shijing II. 5. (204)

In the fourth month comes summer,
And in the sixth month the heat begins to decrease.
Were not my forefathers men ?
How can they endure that I should be [thus] ?

The autumn days become cold,
And the plants all decay.
Amid such distress of disorder and dispersion,
Whither can I betake myself ?

The winter days are very fierce,
And the storm blows in rapid gusts.
People all are happy ;
Why do I alone suffer this misery ?

On the mountain are fine trees, –
Chestnut trees and plum trees.
Of their degenerating into ravening thieves,
I know not the evil cause.

Look at the water of that spring,
Sometimes clear, sometimes muddy.
I am every day coming into contact with misfortune ;
How can I be happy ?

Grandly flow the Jiang and the Han,
Regulators of the southern States.
Worn out as I am with service,
He yet takes no notice of me.

I am not an eagle nor a hawk,
Which flies aloft to heaven.
I am not a sturgeon, large or small,
Which can dive and hide in the deep.

On the hills are the turtle-foot and thorn ferns ;
In the marshes are the medlar and the yi.
I, an officer, have made this song,
To make known my plaint.

Legge 204

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