Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK I.: THE ODES OF CHOW AND THE SOUTH. * - The Shi King, the Old Poetry Classic of the Chinese
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BOOK I.: THE ODES OF CHOW AND THE SOUTH. * - Misc (Confucian School), The Shi King, the Old “Poetry Classic” of the Chinese 
The Shi King, the Old “Poetry Classic” of the Chinese. A Close Metrical Translation, with Annotations by William Jennings (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1891).
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THE ODES OF CHOW AND THE SOUTH.*
I. i. 1.
SONG OF WELCOME TO THE BRIDE OF KING WĂN.†
I. i. 2.
INDUSTRY AND FILIAL PIETY OF WĂN’S QUEEN.
I. i. 3.
THE ABSENT HUSBAND.†
I. i. 4.
I. i. 5.
I. i. 6.
I. i. 7.
THE STALWART RABBIT-CATCHER.*
I. i. 8.
SONG OF THE PLANTAIN-GATHERERS.*
I. i. 9.
THE UNAPPROACHABLE MAIDENS.†
I. i. 10.
I. i. 11.
[* ]By “Chow” is here meant the Royal State, or crown-lands, as distinguished from the Feudal States around. It was the district in which the ancient Chow family had had their seat from bc 1325 to King Wăn’s time (1231-1135). It lay between the rivers Han and Wai (the latter a tributary of the Ho, or Yellow River). By “the South” we are to understand the States or country south of this Chow.
[† ]The song is supposed to have been made by the inmates of the Palace, the ladies of the harêm, who, it seems, were far from being jealous of her: see Ode 4. Her retiring, gentle ways and chaste disposition made her a proper match as the principal wife of this virtuous prince. For an account of Wăn see the whole of Part III. Book I.; in Odes 2 and 4 of that Book will also be found reference to his bride. Her name was T‘ai-sze.
[‡ ]There is a difference of opinion as to the name of the birds: some say they are ospreys or fish-hawks, some a species of duck, found always in pairs and inseparable.
[§ ]Kwân, Kwân, onomatopoetic, like our “quack, quack”; but the Chinese commentators will have it that it is the harmonious call and response of the pairs of birds.
[* ]Strictly, an aquatic gentian,—marsh-flower; sought for its beauty and purity.
[† ]I give the meaning of these perplexing verbs as found in the old Chinese Dictionary, the Urh-ya.
[‡ ]“Lute” is here given for an instrument with a single octave of strings; “harp” for a larger instrument of the same kind with several octaves.
[§ ]Bells and drums were much used in old China as musical instruments.
[∥ ]The creeper here specified (Kŏ) has no English name. It is a species from the fibres of which a material for clothing is made.
[* ]A Court-Stewardess, or Mistress of Ceremonies.
[† ]Referred also to T‘ai-sze.
[‡ ]The “mouse-ear” is a Chinese edible fungus; so called from its shape.
[* ]A cup made of rhinoceros’ or unicorn’s horn.
[† ]The creeper is here again the Kŏ. The bending trees would naturally seem to represent the husband, and the creepers the wife. But, the speakers being the concubines, some suppose that T‘ai-sze is the tree, and those ladies themselves the creepers, delighting in her society, and showing themselves absolutely free from jealousy.
[* ]Under the figure of the locusts—prolific and harmonious—a wish is here expressed for one of the blessings most highly valued by the Chinese,—a numerous progeny; or, if such were already the case with T‘ai-sze, then it is congratulation:—i, translated “may” in the third line, means strictly “it is fitting.” This piece is also supposed to emanate from the Court ladies, who, it is said, were willing even to count their own children as hers!
[† ]The maiden is not thus directly addressed in the original; but the above is otherwise exactly literal.
[* ]Under King Wăn’s rule men of all, even the humblest, classes who did their duty well and energetically were qualifying themselves for promotion. Two men are said in his reign to have been raised to the rank of Ministers from their rabbit-trapping.
[* ]This simple song is inserted to illustrate the cheerful industry of the time of peace brought about by King Wăn. The women go out collecting ribgrass or plantains for medicinal or other purposes after their ordinary day’s labours are over, and sing as they go.
[† ]King Wăn had brought about a great reformation in the manners of the people, which heretofore had been very dissolute. The damsels in the neighbourhood of the river Han could now roam unmolested; men could not mix even with the grass-cutters and fuel-gatherers, under the pretence of helping them. It was as if the broad Han and the long Kiang (the Yang-tse) kept them asunder.
[* ]A kind of southernwood is here named in the original.
[† ]The husband had been absent with Wăn (who at that time was in charge of military affairs) during the wars of Shau, the last and most tyrannical sovereign of the Shang dynasty.
[‡ ]Meaning that a year had passed, and spring had come again.
[§ ]This last stanza is full of confused and certainly confusing metaphor. The bream’s tail is not naturally red, but is said to become so after lashing about in shallow waters: such was the husband’s sunburnt and beaten appearance when he returned. I have taken some liberty with the last three lines. In the original the characters literally mean
The Chinese commentators treat the words “house” and “flames” as representing government with barbarity; and Chu Hi, one of the best of these commentators, thinks that the expression “father and mother” refers, by way of contrast, to the paternal authority and protection of Wăn.
[* ]The lin was a fabulous creature, somewhat corresponding to our unicorn. It was supposed to appear only when a race of good rulers arose, as the auspice of all good. Its hoofs hurt nothing living, it did not butt with its brow, and its horn, though formidable-looking, was tipped with soft flesh. The song is in praise of King Wăn’s descendants and kindred. Surely the lin had come! The descriptive “chan chan” in each second line in the original has various meanings assigned to it, which may justify the varied translation given above.