Part II The Book of Songs


The Book of Songs
The history of Chinese Literature begins with [《诗经》in Chinese characters]—(pronounced as Shi Jing)《The Book of Songs》is a record of verbal poems appeared more than 2,500 years ago. We know that music was already very developed at the time when the book came into being, as a matter of fact all the verses in the book could be sung.

The poems in 《The Book of Songs》were collected by scholars. There had been four versions of 《The Book of Songs》. That is to say four scholars engaged in the work of collections. They were Lu(鲁), Qi(齐), Han(韩) and Mao Heng. Qi’s version got lost during the Three-Kingdom Period, Lu’s version got lost during the West Jin Period and Han’sversion disappeared after Southern Song Period. Only Mao Heng’s collection survived, and 《The Book of Songs》we read today is actually Mao’s version. Unfortunately we can not find any traces of the other three versions today.

According to documents of Qin and Han Dynasties, there were two sources for the book; firstly, designated officials of the Zhou Court (referred to as “travelling officials” at the time) were responsible for collecting local ballads for purpose of providing to the King’s Court. Such collection carried strong local flavor and reflected local attitude towards the rule of the King. Assisted by duke states, these “travelling officials” were able to cover a very broad land expanses and gather ballads from localities; secondly, there was a system of “contributing poems” at the Court of Zhou, dukes and officials should present poems to the King at special occasions. A considerable number of the poems in the Part of “Ya” was gathered through such presentations.

Some people held that Confucius made some deletions on 《The Book of Songs》. But most historians tend to denial of such a conclusion, because they couldn’t find any proof to support it. However, Confucius must have read these poems, since he mentioned them in his works. He died in 479 B.C., so the book was compiled earlier, probably in the 6th century B.C., It has been verified that the earliest poems included in the book came into being around 1122 B.C. when Zhou Defeated Shang. Aside from these poems, 《The Book of Songs》also included those appeared until mid Spring and Autumn Period (7th century B.C.). So, the book covers a period of 500 years.

In the Han Dynasty, 《The Book of Songs》was formally listed as one of the Five Classics that should be taught at schools. (The other four classics are 《The Book of Changes》,《The Book of History》,《The Book of Rites》and《The Spring and Autumn Annals》.The book is usually divided into three parts:The first part is entitled “风(feng)”, which means ballads. So, this part is  a collection of local ballads, As a matter of fact, it is a collection of ballads in 15 states.

The second part is called “雅(ya)”, which means dynastic hymns. So, this part is a collection of dynastic hymns. Why is that? Because “ya” were pronunciations of the Qin dialect. During the Spring and Autumn period, the area Qin occupied as where Zhou Dynasty was, therefore, “ya” was Zhou music, to be exact, and it was the music of the central government. “Ya” is sub-divided into “Greater Ya” and “Minor Ya”.The third part is named “颂(song)”, which means song, ode, eulogy. In ancient times, “song” also meant
“appearance”. So, “song” music was dancing music, music for both singing and dancing. Such music was used when offering sacrifices to ancestors. So, “song” was poems for sacrificial songs.

It should be noted that the three parts used to be arranged in order of “Feng”, “Ya” and “Song”. Yet, in August 2000, a news dispatch from Shanghai reported that the city’s museum, after studied on 31 pieces of bamboo slips of the state of Chu, fount out the arrangement revealed by these slips was in a reversed order: “Song” was the first part followed by “Greater Ya” and “Minor Ya”, the part of “Feng” came last.How many poems are there in 《The Book of Songs》? In the part of “Feng”, there are 160 poems. In the part of “Ya”, there are 111 poems. In the part of “Song”, there are 40 poems. So, all together 311 poems. However, in the part of “Ya”, there are six poems with only titles and no content, so if you delete the six, there are 305 poems. That’s why we always refer to the 《The Book of Songs》as “300 poems”.

The Part of Song

This part is usually sub-divided into three sections: Zhou Song, Lu Song and Shang Song. Being the earliest of all poems in the book, most poems in Zhou Song were devoted to the ancestors’ temples and ceremonies in the content of offering sacrifices, songs, dances and prayers. The nobility mostly wrote them. People used to devote more attention to the first poem of each part and refer them as “four starters” (Greater Ya and Minor Ya here stands as an independent self.) The first poem—The Quiet Temple in this part is from Zhou Song, it reads (letters in the bracket is how the line sounds in Chinese):
於穆清庙,    Wu mu qing miao
肃雝显相!    Su yong xian xiang!
济济多士,    Ji ji suo shi,
秉文之德;    Bin wen zhi de;
对越在天,    Dui yue zai tian,
骏奔走在庙。  Jun ben zou zai miao.
不显不承,    Pi xian pi zheng,
无射于人斯!  Qu yi yu ren si!

Ah, the solemn and quiet temple
Dukes assisting the ceremony look serious and sober
So many officials gathered in the hall
They have carried on the virtues of King Wen
To sing praise of King Wen’s soul in the sky
They are running and preparing swiftly in the temple
The virtue of King Wen is so illustrious and celebrated
He will be remembered forever

This poem does not rhyme in the original. Yet its success lies in the way it depicts the virtue of King Wen of Zhou. If the method of direct description is applied, many more words would have to be used.

The Temple of King Wen of Zhou

Since farming was quite developed in Zhou Dynasty, there are many poems about farming in the book. The poems that depict farming tools are better ones, for instance “Weeding (zai shan, 载芟)” and “Good Farming Tools (liang si, 良耜).were well composed, they can also serve as important historical data. Lu Song and Shang Song appeared after the imperial court of Zhou Dynasty moved eastward. Some people believe that this part is of comparatively low artistic value, because of its crude writing technique and poor use of rhyme.

The Part of Greater Ya

Most poems in Greater Ya were for the occasion of sacrificial banquets. Among them 7 poems can be considered the epics of Western Zhou (11th century –771 B.C.), which depicts important deeds of the Zhou ancestors. The first poem of this part is entitled “King Wen”, which recalls the virtue of the hero, explains why Zhou could successfully replace Yin Dynasty. The poem was intended to serve as a lesson for King Wen’s successors.

文王          Weng Wang

文王在上,   Wen wang zai tian,
於昭于天。   Wu zhao yu tian.
周虽旧邦,   Zhou sui jiu bang,
其命维新。   Qi ming wei xin.
有周不显,   You zhou pi xian,
帝命不时。   Di ming pi shi.
文王陟降,   Wen wang zhi xiang,
在帝左右。   Zai di zuo you.

亹亹文王,   Wei wei wen wang,
令闻不已。   Ling wen bu yi.
陈锡哉周,   Chen xi zai zhou,
侯文王孙子。 Hou wen wang sun zi.
文王孙子,   Wen wang sun zi,
本支百世。   Ben zhi bai shi.
凡周之士,   Fan zhou zhi shi,
不显亦世。   Pi xian yi shi.

世之不显,   Shi zhi pi xian,
厥犹翼翼。   Jue you yi yi.
思皇多士,   Si huang duo shi,
生此王国。   Sheng ci wang guo.
王国克生,   Wang guo ke sheng,
维周之桢。   Wei zhou zhi zhen.
济济多士,   Ji ji suo shi,
文王以宁。   Wen wang yi ning.

穆穆文王,   Mu mu wen wang,
於缉熙敬止。 Wu ji xi jing zhi.
假哉天命,   Jia zai tian ming,
有商孙子。   You shang sun zi.
商之孙子,    Shang zhi sun zi,
其丽不亿。   Qi li pi yi.
上帝既命,   Shang di ji ming,
侯于周服。   Hou yu zhou fu.

侯于周服,   Hou yu zhou fu,
天命靡常。   Tian ming mi chang.
殷士肤敏,   Yin shi fu min,
裸将于京。   Luo jiang yu jing.
厥作裸将,   Jue zuo luo jiang,
常服黼冔。     Chang fu fu xu.
王之荩臣,   Wang zhi jin chen,
无念尔祖。   Wu nian er zu.

无念尔祖,   Wu nian er zu,
聿修厥德。   Yu xiu jue de.
永言配命,   Yong yan pei ming,
自求多福。   Zi qiu duo fu.
殷之未丧师, Yin zhi wei sang shi,
克配上帝。   Ke pei shang di.
宜鉴于殷,   Yi jian yu yin,
骏命不易。   Jun ming bu yi.

命之不易,   Ming zhi bu yi,
无遏尔躬。   Wu e er gong.
宣昭义问,   Xuan zhao yi wen,
有虞殷自天。 You yu yin zi tian.
上天之载,   Shang tian zhi zai,
无声无臭。   Wu sheng wu xiu.
仪刑文王,   Yi xing wen wang,
万邦作孚。   Wan bang zuo fu.

APortrait of King Wen

King Wen

The soul of King Wen has ascended to the Heaven,
His soul is illustrious and celebrated there.
Though Zhou is an old state,
It is instructed by the Heaven to build a new one.
The glorious and honorable Zhou,
Abides by the will of the Heavenly Emperor in the total.
The soul of King Wen has ascended to the Heaven,
So lofty to be aside by the Heavenly Emperor.

The diligent and enterprising King Wen,
Your name will be spread forever.
The Heavenly Emperor granted him the task of building Zhou,
Granted endless happiness to his offspring.
Proliferates for generations.
All officials inherited the ranks of nobles,
Their families will be glorious for long.
To enjoy glory for long,

One has to be farsighted, respectful and diligent.
Numerous able and virtuous talents,
Have been born in this state.
To develop this state,
Rely on these pillars.
Having gathered so many talents,
King Wen could set at ease his mind.

The bearing of King Wen so serious and respectful,
He is above-board and cautious.
Decided by the order of the Heaven,
The offspring of Shang are now subjects of Zhou.
The offspring of Shang,
Are numerous in number.
Since the Heavenly Emperor has voiced his will,
The complied and submitted to Zhou.

Submitted themselves to Zhou,
Inconsistent is the heavenly will.
The submitted Yin nobles work hard,
They are servants at the sacrifice in the capital.
They work at the sacrificial ceremony,
With sacrificial outfit and Yin caps on them.
Being now devoted subjects of the King,
You have to thank your ancestors.

In thanking your ancestors,
You should cultivate your virtue and conduct.
Forever comply with the will of the Heaven,
You will be able to get various happiness
When Shang hasn’t lost the heart of the people,
It conformed to the will of the Heaven.
Take Yin as a lesson,
What may change is the will of the Heaven.

Though the will of the Heaven may change,
You shouldn’t alienate yourself from the Heaven.
Try to spread your good name,
Be cautious and respectful as desired by the Heaven.
This is how the Heaven acts,
Without smell and sound.
Learn from the example of King Wen,
You would win the trust of states under the Heaven.

We should note the arrangement that the last line in each paragraph is partially or entirely repeated in the first line of the next paragraph is for purpose of stressing and changing of rhyme as well.Some of the poems in this section touch on very specific things, for instance, “生民, sheng min or The Birth of People” depicts the life of Hou Ji, the first ruler of Zhou and how he promoted the growing of five crops. Another example would be “绵,mian, Continuation”, which is somewhat like a narrative poem that recorded how King Tai moved his court to Qixia.

Some satirical poems written at the fall of Zhou are well composed. “桑柔,sang rou, The Softness of Mulberry” is the longest poem in 《The Book of Songs》, it is compact, well organized, coherent and voiced the poet’s opinions on politics of the time.

The Part of Minor Ya

“The Minor Ya” part includes not only poems written around the late Zhou period, but also those written after the imperial court was moved to the east.
The first poem of this part, “The Deer Call” was a song used at official banquets in the Zhou Dynasty. According to the customs of rites at the time, music must be played during banquets, and “The Deer Call” was often sung at such occasions:


呦呦鹿鸣,    You you lu ming,
食野之苹。    Shi ye zhi ping.
我有嘉宾,    Wo you jia bin,
鼓瑟吹笙。    Gu se cui sheng.
吹笙鼓簧,    Cui sheng gu huang,
承筐是将。    Cheng kuang shi jiang.
人之好我,    Ren zhi hao wo,
示我周行。    Shi wo zhou xing.

呦呦鹿鸣,      You you lu ming,
食野之蒿。      Shi ye zhi hao.
我有嘉宾,      Wo you jia bin,
德音孔昭。      De yin kong zhao.
视民不恌,      Shi min bu tiao,
君子是则是效。  Jun zi shi ze shi xiao.
我有旨酒,      Wo you zhi jiu,
嘉宾式燕以敖。  Jia bin shi yan yi ao.

呦呦鹿鸣,      You you lu ming,
食野之芩。      Shi ye zhi qin.
我有嘉宾,      Wo you jia bin,
鼓瑟鼓琴。      Gu se gu qin.
鼓瑟鼓琴,      Gu se gu qin,
和乐且湛。      He yue qie zhan.
我有旨酒,      Wo you zhi jiu,
以燕乐嘉宾之心。Yi yan yue jia bin zhi xin

The Deer Call
(Based on the translation of James Legge)

The deer call to one another with pleased sounds,
Eating the wormwood of the fields.
I have here admirable guests,
For them we blow the bamboo organ and play the lutes.
The blow shakes all the organ’s tongues,
I present to them baskets of offerings.
For they love me,
And will show me the perfect path.

With pleased sounds the deer call to one another,
Eating in the fields the artimisia.
The admirable guests are here,
Their virtuous fame is an example of grandeur.
They show us not to conduct frivooous behavior,
All gentlemen wish to be their follower.
I have excellent liqueur,
With which I treat my guests for their pleasure.

The deer call to one another with pleased sounds,
Eating the celery of the fields.
I have here  the admirable guests,
For them we play lutes and other string instruments.
Playing lutes and other string instruments,
Our joy lasts long and is so harmonious.
I have excellent liqueur,
To feast and make glad the hearts of my admirable guests.

Aside from banquet poems and satirical poems, there are lyric poems as well. Many poems in the Minor Ya section are beautifully composed. Let me quote part of Chapter XI of “采薇,cai wei, Collection of Rose”:

昔我徃矣,                    Xi wo wang yi
杨柳依依,                    Yang liu yi yi
今我来思,                    Jin wo lai si,
雨雪霏霏。                    Yu xue fei fei
行道迟迟,                    Xing dao chi chi,
载渴载饥。                    Zai ke zai ji.
我心伤悲,                    Wo xin shang bei,
莫知我哀。                    Mo zhi wo ai.

TheReturning Soldier
I thought of the time when left home,
Flapping was the branches of willow.
Today, I am returning home,
Falling thick and fast is flakes of snow.
With heavy legs I stroll,
With thirst and hunger my steps and slow.
I am so miserable,
Who knows about my sorrow?

This poem is about a soldier. When he left for war, it was nice and warm with willow branches flapping, he was returning home after his troops won the war, yet, he didn’t feel happy, on the contrary, he was miserable, not only because it was snowing so heavily, he lost so many of his fellow fighters and the war didn’t to his family any good. The poem does give a vivid and concrete picture, and the reader can feel how miserable the soldier was. This poem has been popular and on the lips of many people. There are also love poems, let’s take “隰桑,xi sang, Mulberry on the Lowland”:

隰桑有阿,              Xi sang you e,
其叶则难。              Qi ye ze nuo.
既见君子,              Ji jian jun zi,
其乐如何。              Qi le ru he.

隰桑有阿,              Xi sang you e,
其叶有沃。              Qi ye you wo.
既见君子,              Ji jian jun zi,
云何不乐。              Yun he bu le.

隰桑有阿,              Xi sang you e,
其叶有幽,              Qi ye you you.
既见君子,              Ji jian jun zi,
德音孔膠。              De yin kong jiao.

心乎爱矣,              Xin hu ai yi,
遐不谓矣?              Xia bu wei yi?
中心藏之,              Zhong xin cang zhi,
何日忘之?              He ri wang zhi?

Beautiful mulberry trees on the low land,
Its leaves full and round.
Now I see my man,
I’m filled with delight.

Beautiful mulberry tres on the low land,
Its leaves fertile and soft.
Now I see my man,
With joy I feel wild.

Beautiful mulberry trees on the low land,
Its leaves deeply green.
Now I see my man,
When talk about love there is no end.

I love you by heart,
Why I dare not mention it?
I burry it deep in heart,
On which day can I forget?

I think you would agree that the feeling this poem projected is very sincere and we know that the girl will never forget her love.

The Part of Feng
This is a part of local ballads. Most poems in this part are lyrics depicting labor, love and ordinary social life. We regard it as the cream in 《The Book of Songs》, because these poems reflected the experience and expectations of the laboring people of the time; simple as they were, they were vivid and lively; verbal poems as they were, they were also observations and reflections on the society from the people with their own eyes, they were therefore a true revelation of the actual society of the time and at the same time an expression of the life and desire of the people. That’s why we say this part contains much realism and affinity to the people. It is the most brilliant part among all the ‘300 poems”. It is actually the beginning of the realistic tradition of the Chinese classic literature.
Let’s now read the first poem of this part, “The Warbling Ospreys”, a ballad of the State of Zhou Nan. As a matter of fact, “Feng”, or “Local Ballads” has always been put at the beginning of 《The Book of Songs》. When you open 《The Book of Songs》, the first thing that meets your eye is “The warbling Ospreys”:
风 周南                 Feng. Zhou Nan
 关雎                   Guan Ju

关关雎鸠,             Guan guan ju jiu,
在河之洲。            Zai he zhi zhou,
窈窕淑女,             Yao tiao shu nu,
君子好逑。            Jun zi hao qiu.

参差荇菜,             Cen ci xing cai,
左右流之。            Zuo you liu zhi.
窈窕淑女,             Yao tiao shu nu,
寤寐求之。            Wu mei qiu zhi.
求之不得,             Qiu zhi bu de,
寤寐思服。            Wu mei si fu.
优哉游哉,             You zai you zai,
辗转反侧。            Zhan zhuan fan ce.

参差荇菜,             Cen ce xing cai,
左右采之。            Zuo you cai zhi.
窈窕淑女,             Yao tiao shu nu,
琴瑟友之。            Qin se you zhi.
参差荇菜,             Cen ci xing cai,
左右芼之。            Zuo you mao zhi.
窈窕淑女,            Yao tiao shu nu,
钟鼓悦之。            Zhong gu yue zhi.

Two ospreys in the cover of 《The Book of Songs》

The Warbling Ospreys
On a sand bar in the river,
Two warbling ospreys are sitting together.
To match that pretty and graceful girl,
For a gentleman it would be most ideal.
Trying to catch fromf left and right,
The unevenly grown water plant.
That pretty and graceful girl,
Is whom he chases after when asleep or awake.
While his efforts frustrated,
He still misses her day and night.
The longing for her cann’t be suppressed,
He cann’t help toss and turn himself in bed.

Trying to collect from left and right,
The unevenly grown water plant.
Playing seven and twenty-five stringed instrument,
To win the pretty and graceful girl’s heart.
Trying to pick from left and right,
The unevenly grown water plant.
To please that pretty and graceful girl,
Bells and drums were struck.

This poem depicts how a man pays court to a lady and finally succeeds and marries her. It is a serious matter, not a one-time affair, not merely a leisurely conduct. Yet, you find no hot passion in it. The feeling it projects to you is controlled and moderate. So, why is it the first piece of the entire book? Nobody thoght it was put there randomly. It was the only poem in the book Confucius commented on. He said the poem depicted “pleasure, but not
licentiously; greif, but not in a heart-broken way.” Some critics thought that this poem is the most representative of the part of “Feng”, they even went so far as to say that when the “Feng” is prevails, it could set right the relationship of husband and wife. Ancient Chinese held that human relationsn started with those between a husband and his wife, and on which all perfect ethics is based.“七月, qi yue, July” among “豳风,bin feng, The Ballad of the State of Bin” described the life of farmers in a year during which they laboured endlessly, yet by the year end they didn’t even have coarse cloth to cover their bodies. The poem draws clearly a true picture of how poor the labouring people were. Following are the first two paragraphs of the poem:

七月流火,               Qi yue liu huo,
九月授衣。               Jiu yue shou yi.
一之日觱发,             Yi zhi ri bi fa,
二之日栗烈,             Er zhi ri li lie,
无衣无褐,               Wu yi wu he,
何以卒岁。               He yi zu sui.
三之日于耜,             San zhi ri yu si,
四之日举趾,             Si zhi ri ju zhi,
同我妇子,               Tong wo fu zi,
饁彼南亩,               Ye bi man mu,
田畯至喜。               Tian ju zhi xi.

七月流火,               Qi yue liu huo,
九月授衣。               Jiu yue shou yi.
春日载阳,               Chun ri zai yang,
有鸣仓庚。               You ming cang geng.
女执懿筐,               Nu zhi yi kuang,
遵彼微行,               Zun bi wei xing,
爰求柔桑。               Yuan qiu rou sang.
春日迟迟,               Chun ri chi chi,
采蘩祁祁。               Cai fan qi qi.
女心伤悲,               Nu xin shang bei,
殆及公子同归。           Dai ji gong zi tong gui.

In July descend in the west is the Mars,
Others get their winter cloths in September.

A painting describing the poem

North wind roars in November,
It is even cloder in December,
Our bodies have nothing to cover,
How can we spend the year?
In January we repair hoes,
In February we are busy in the fields,
We work with our wives and sons,
Soup and food sent to the fields,
Farming officers are all smiles.

In July descend in the west is the Mars,
Others get winter cloths ready in September.
In spring the sun is warmer,
Orioles are chirping louder.
Girls carry big baskets,
Walking on a small path,
To go and collect mulberry,
The spring sun is in no hurry,
They get so much white wormwood.
The girls really worry,
The son of the lord may take all the wood away.

The poem entitled “Cutting Down Sandalwood” in “魏风,wei feng, The Ballad of the State of Wei” voiced ordinary people’s anger towards rulers. Please read the first paragraph:

坎坎伐檀兮,          Kan kan fa tan xi,
寘之河之干兮,        Zhi zhi he zhi gan xi,
河水清且涟猗兮。      He shui qing qie lian yi xi.
不稼不穑,            Bu jia bu se,
胡取禾三百廛兮?      Hu qu he san bai chan xi?
不狩不猎,            Bu shou bu lie,
胡瞻尔庭有縣貆兮?    Hu zhan er ting you xuan huan xi?
彼君子兮,            Bi jun zi xi,
不素餐兮。           Bu su can xi.

Cutting down the sandalwood,
Lay it on the riverside,
Ring upon ring, the ripples of the water look like.
You never plant and harvest,
How come you take away so many bundles of wood?
You never hunt,
Why you hang so many badgers in your courtyard?
Ah, you gentlemen,
You do nothing, yet profit.

In this part, you can find poems describing a man’s feeling about serving in the army and about giving up farming and working in corvee. “鸨羽,bao yu, Wings of a Bustard” in “唐风,tang feng, The Ballads of the State of Tang” is such a poem. Please read the first paragraph:

肃肃鴇羽,             Su su bao yu,
集于苞栩。             Ji yu bao xu.
王事靡盬,             Wang shi mi gu,
不能艺稷黍。           Bu neng yi ji shu.
父母何怙?             Fu mu he hu?
悠悠苍天,             You you cang tian.
曷其有所?             He qi you suo?

Bustard flaps its wings,
It can’t rest assured in the nest on the ork.
There is no end in the corvee,
No time to attend crops.
Who’s going to care if parents die of hunger?
Ah, my limitless heaven.
When could there be a place for my shelter?

This part also contains a good number of rich and beautiful poems of love and marriage. For instance, “木瓜,mu gua, Papaya” in “魏风,wei feng, The Ballads of the State of Wei” says, “You give me a papaya, I return a piece of jade to you, this is not a return gift, but a keepsake for a long lasting love.” Isn’t it a simple expression of mutual love and dedication? Let me now quote “静女,jing nu, The Quiet Girl” in the Ballads of the State of Bei:

静女其姝,              Jing nu qi shu,
俟我于城隅。            Si wo yu cheng yu.
爱而不见,              Ai er bu jian,
搔首踟蹰。              Sao shou chi chu

静女其妾,              Jing nu qi cuan,
贻我彤管,              Yi wo tong guan.
彤管有炜,              Tong guan you wei,
說怿女美。              Yue yi ru mei.

自牧归荑,              Zi mu kui ti,
询美且异。              Xun mei qie yi.
匪女之为美,            Fei ru zhi wei mei,
美人之贻。              Mei ren zhi yi.

The Quiet Girl
The quiet girl is so pretty,
She dates me at the corner tower of the city.
She tries to hide from me,
I tweak my ears and scratch my cheeks in anxiety.
The quiet girl is so beautiful,
She gives me a handful of red grass.
I like the red grass for its freshness,
I like the red grass for its beautiful color.

It is collected from the pasture for me,
I like it for its unique beauty.
It’s not its unique beauty that I like,
It’s the fact that it’s given to me by a real beauty.

The poems describes a man’s profound love. There is also something different, one that depicts a girl’s agony when
he is disappointed in love is “狡童,jiao tong, The Cunning Boy” in “郑凤,zheng feng, the Ballads of the State of Zheng”, which goes:

彼狡童兮,              Bi jiao tong xi,
不与我言兮。            Bu yu wo yan xi.
维子之故,              Wei zi zhi gu,
使我不能餐兮。          Shi wo bu neng can xi.

彼狡童兮,              Bi jiao tong xi,
不与我食兮。            Bu yu wo shi xi.
维子之故,              Wei zi zhi gu,
使我不能息兮。          Shi wo bu neng xi xi.

You cunning boy,
Never speak to me again.
Because of you,
I have no heart to dine.

You cunning boy,
Never speak to me again.
Because of you,
I have no heart to dine.

You cunning boy,
Never have meals with me again.
Because of you,
I can not sleep night out and in.

It is not possible to go to each poem in 《The Book of Songs》, however, one should remember that the poems cover a wide range of content, some voiced the sadness of women after they were abandoned by men, some cried out their pains for having no freedom in love.

Features of 《The Book of Songs》
Of course, the basic feature of 《The Book of Songs》is that all the poems it contains were verbal poems and they were verses of songs. Yet, the following should also be noted:

I. All together, 2, 949 characters are being used in the book (some have been used more than once). Among them, many are polysemics. If we consider the meanings, all the polysemies (the same word that contains many different meanings) expressed, there are more than 3,900 single sylaable characters and almost 1,000 disyllable words are used in the book. So, if we put them together, we can say 《The Book of Songs》contains 5,000 characters. They appear in the form of nauns, verbs, adjectives, reiterative locations and function words.

II. There are 7, 284 lines in the book, among which 6, 724 are four-character lines, which take up 92% of all the lines. Generally speaking, 《The Book of Songs》is basically four-character-a line poems.

III. Some poems have ten chapters (paragraphs), some have only one. Some chapters (paragraphs) contain 22 lines, some only two. In some poems, the structure and the words used in different paragraphs are almost the same, with only a few changes of characters. This method of repetition enables a full expression of feelings, enforces the power of appeal. This striking feature of the language in 《The Book of Songs》has a far-reaching influence on Chinese poetry.

IV.Ways of rhyme: you can find alliterations in the book, for instance “踟蹰, pronaunces as chi chu”. But it is not the main form of rhyme in Chinese poetry. Alliteration has always been regarded as a way of diction. End rhyme has always been the main form. There are three ways of rhyming in the book: (a) every line rhymes; (b) every other line rhymes, usually the second and the fourth lines rhyme; (c) if the last line is an odd number, it can repeat the rhyme or simply go without rhyme. In the poems which have only four lines, every line rhymes, but the third.

V.The composing techniques used in the book are very original. Chinese scholars summed them up with three Chinese characters: the first is 赋,which pronounces as “fu” and means “direct description; the secocnd is 比, which pronounces as “bi” and means analogy; and the third is 兴,which pronounces as “xing” and means metaphor. Xie Zhen, a scholar of the Ming Dynasty calculated that the method of direct description was used in the book 720 times, analogy 110 times and metaphor 370 times.

VI. There are quite a number of natural antithesis in the book. High quality of antithesis occupies an important place in composing Chinese poetry. The following two examples are from the poems we have read:

1. 昔  我  往  矣,杨  柳  依  依.

(xi wo wang yi,  yang liu yi yi)--pronounciation of the line
In the past I left, branches of poplar and willow flapped.—literal translation
I thought of the time when left home, flapping was the branches of willow.—writer’s translation In the following line, corresponding words have to be used in corresponding places, and in this case:

今  我  来  思,雨  雪  霏  霏。

(jin wo lai si, yu xue fei fei)--pronounciation of the line.
Today I came home and thought, rain and snow falling thick.—literal translation
Today, I am returning home, falling thick and fast is flakes of snow.—writer’s translation

2. Similarly, the first two lines in the poem “July” are antithesis:

七  月  流  火,

(qi yue liu huo)--pronounciation of the line.

(in) July  stars decend—literal translation
In July descend in the west are the Mars.—writer’s translation

九  月  授  衣。

(jiu yue shou yi)--pronounciation of the line.
(in) September cloths obtained.—literal translation
Others get their winter cloths in September.—writer’s translation

There have been serious studies on 《The Book of Songs》ever since it was compiled. Numerous books have been written about it. Some tried to explain what ideas the poems intended to express; some tried to analyse the utensils and farming tools the poems describe; others tried to expound the social systems, political situations and local traditions the poems refer. Mao Heng and Zheng Xuan of the Han Dynasty, Zhu Xi of the Song Dynasty, Guo Moruo and Wen Yiduo of modern times are most outstanding and influential in such studies
《The Book of Songs》has exerted a great influence on the development of Chinese literature. Ever since Han Dynasty (206B.C.), Confucianists had regarded it as a classic; it has been widespread as a textbook in the society for more than 2,000 years. We can therefore say that there is no poet in the history of Chinese literature that has not been
influenced by 《The Book of Songs》.

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