Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK III.: THE ODES OF P'EI. - The Shi King, the Old Poetry Classic of the Chinese
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
BOOK III.: THE ODES OF P‘EI. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE ODES OF P‘EI.
P‘ei was one of three principalities which King Wu created after he overthrew the dynasty of Shang. It was in the north; and the two others were—Yung in the south, and Wei in the west. P‘ei and Yung were, after a short time, absorbed in Wei, which had a long history. We have, in Books III., IV. and V. titles taken from all three; but evidently the division is only artificial: the three Books might all have been included properly under the title Wei, since it is that State with which all are connected.
I. iii. 1.
I. iii. 2.
I. iii. 3.
FRIENDS IN DISTRESS.*
I. iii. 4.
I. iii. 5.
I. iii. 6.
THE SOLDIER SIGHS FOR WIFE AND HOME.
I. iii. 7.
THE DISCONTENTED MOTHER.*
I. iii. 8.
I. iii. 9.
I. iii. 10.
LAMENT OF A DISCARDED WIFE.
I. iii. 11.
A PRINCE AND HIS OFFICERS IN TROUBLE.*
I. iii. 12.
LI FINDS NO HELP IN WEI.*
I. iii. 13.
BUFFOONERY AT COURT.‡
I. iii. 14.
I. iii. 15.
I. iii. 16.
I. iii. 17.
I. iii. 18.
THE NEW TOWER.*
I. iii. 19.
THE TWO SONS.†
[* ]It is very probable that the first five Odes in this Book, and the third of the Odes of Wei (Bk. V.), are to be taken as referring to the same lady,—the wife of Duke Ch‘wang, of Wei (who ruled that state bc 756-734). Putting the six together, and the last first—as the Epithalamium—we have part of the story of this admirable and beautiful lady (Ch‘wang Kiang), as given in one or two histories of those times. The chief points in that story may be stated here. Ch‘wang Kiang had had the misfortune to be childless, and was in consequence rudely treated, and at length supplanted by another wife. The second wife, another lady of rank, bore a son, but he died in childhood. There was, however, another son (Hwan) by a concubine, the cousin of Ch‘wang Kiang, whom the duke looked upon as his successor, and Ch‘wang Kiang, at his wish, readily adopted the child as her own. On the death of the duke, a third son, Chow-Yu, the child of a concubine of meaner birth, brought trouble into the family, and in course of time murdered Hwan, and tried, but without success, to usurp his position.
[* ]See Ode 4. The reference to the sun and moon changing positions seems to point to her own abandonment for another.
[* ]This is truly Chinese. Ch‘wang Kiang feels her degraded position, and the expression of her grief takes a very metaphorical turn. Green is a colour less esteemed than yellow. All things are inverted, and out of place.
[† ]Lit., I muse upon the ancients,—i.e., the examples of great women of old time.
[‡ ]Grass-cloth. She must even now wear a cold dress in cold weather.
[* ]The supplanted wife seems to have lived harmoniously, and even very amicably, with the lady who took her place. In this Ode she pours out her grief at the departure of the latter, who after the murder of her son Hwan returned home to her parents.
[† ]Chung is properly the “second” sister or daughter. Her name was Tai Kwei.
[‡ ]Lit., the former lord. From this we learn that the husband was now dead.
[* ]This and the following piece ought properly to have been placed before Ode 3.
[* ]A city in Wei.
[† ]Chow-yu (see note on Ode 1 of this Book), after his murder of Hwan, found the people disaffected towards him, and sought popularity by directing an expedition against Ch‘in, in the South, for which he obtained the co-operation of these two States, Ch‘in and Sung.
[* ]Seven sons accuse themselves of being the cause of their mother’s discontent and fretfulness. It is supposed the fault was her own, and that, although having so many sons, she desired more; and the sons, in making these lines, and laying the blame on themselves, wished delicately to recall her to a sense of duty. The Ode is said by the Chinese commentators to illustrate the licentious manners of Wei. The opening lines of each verse point, by way of contrast, to the glad content of nature all around her.
[* ]The wife of some officer tells of their mutual regret at his absence on foreign service.
[† ]The husband’s comrades.
[‡ ]Lit., coveteousness.
[* ]i.e., the gourds (the shells of which were used in crossing rivers) were not yet ripe.
[† ]The proper custom, when a man wished to have a day fixed for the bringing home of his bride, was to send a live goose to her parents’ house at the early dawn.
[‡ ]Marriages took place in the spring, and the ceremony of sending the goose was to be observed some time before, ere the winter’s ice began to break up. It may be that this explains the allusion to the swollen ford.
[* ]In explanation of this piece we are told that in the time of Duke Swân, of Wei, the chief of the adjoining state of Li had been driven out of his territory by the Tih hordes, and had sought help in Wei; but was long detained there by false promises, and was reduced to great straits, and evidently treated with indignity. His officers, while showing attachment to him, complain of his hardships and their own, and urge him to return to Li.
[* ]See note on the last Ode. The officers of the Chief of Li complain of the delay and indifference of their brother officers of Wei in their extremity.
[† ]Lit., O ye younger and elder uncles.
[‡ ]Satire. The Duke of Wei was employing his best men as buffoons.
[† ]These refer to various dances. See I. vi. 3, and II. vi. 4.
[‡ ]In the West-country was the seat of Chow, where the rulers knew better than to use such a man as this merely as a dancer.
[§ ]A princess of Wei, married to the chief of some other State, desires to visit her native land. This it would have been permissible to do, had her parents been still living; but these being dead, she could not do so. She forms her plans for the journey, and thinks that a visit to her relatives might not be objected to, but again shrinks back in doubt as to the propriety of so doing.
[∥ ]One of the chief rivers of Wei.
[¶ ]The ladies of the palace, who had come with her.
[* ]Places in Wei through which she had passed on her wedding journey. The terms translated “god-speed cup” refer to the parting feast which was usual on the return of the escorting friends. At this feast an offering was first made to propitiate “the spirits of the way.”
[† ]Lit., “I think of the Fei-ts‘ün, and for it am perpetually sighing.” Fei-ts‘un is said to be the name of a river in Wei; but the words signify fertile springs.
[‡ ]Cities of Wei. We have met with the latter in Ode 6.
[§ ]An officer of Wei, hard pressed by work and poor pay, sets forth his grievances and his meek submission to them as the will of Heaven, yet slyly means the whole to be a rebuke to the Governwent. “Passing out by the north gate” is an apt introduction to what follows, as symbolizing the way to cold and darkness. Cf. beginning of next Ode.
[* ]In a time of tyranny and confusion in Wei, the peasants felt compelled to emigrate to another State.
[† ]The opening lines are merely symbolical of the oppression felt by the people.
[* ]The fox and the crow were regarded as ill omens.
[† ]This is said to be directed against the times; therefore, according to this view, the opening words, “the modest maiden,” must be understood from the lover’s point of view.
[‡ ]The city wall.
[* ]Duke Swân, one of the most dissolute of the rulers of Wei, had contracted for the marriage of his son Kĭ with a lady of T‘si. But when the father saw her, he became so enamoured of her beauty that he took her himself, and lodged her in a tower which he caused to be built on an island in the Ho. She is afterwards known by the name of Swân-Kiang.
[† ]Quite a romantic story is attached to this piece, which may be told in the words of the commentator Chu-Hi. Swân-Kiang (see note on last Ode) became the mother of two sons, Sheu and Sŏ. Sŏ and his mother brought some charge against Kĭ, the son of a former wife of the Duke (see again note to last Ode); and the Duke, believing it, sent him on some errand to T‘si, and employed some ruffians to waylay and murder him. Sheu heard of this, and warned Kĭ of his danger. Kĭ answered: “The Duke has given me a command, and I cannot disobey it.” Whereupon Sheu secretly disguised himself and took the journey himself, and was killed in the place of his brother. When Kĭ came to the spot he cried: “The Duke gave orders that I should be killed. What wrong has Sheu committed?” The murderers killed him also. The country folks were hurt at this, and made this Ode.