The Classic of Poetry

 

關雎

關﹐雎 鳩﹔在 洲。

窕﹐淑 女﹔君 逑。

差﹐荇 菜﹔左 之。

窕﹐淑 女﹔寤 之。

之﹐不 得﹔寤 寐﹐思﹐服。

哉﹐悠 哉﹗輾 轉﹐反 側。

差﹐荇 菜﹔左 之。

窕﹐ 女﹔琴 之。

差﹐荇 菜﹔左 之。

窕﹐淑 女﹔鍾 之。

1

1 Guān guān, jū jiū; zài hé zhī zhōu.

2 Yǎo tiǎo, hú nǚ; jūn zi hǎo qiú

3 Cān chā, xìng cài; zuǒ yòu liú zhī.

4 Yǎo tiǎo, shú nǚ, wù mèi qiú zhī.

5 Qiú zhī, bù de; wù mèi, sī, fú.

6 Yōu zāi, yōu zāi! Zhǎn zhuǎn, fǎn cè.

7 Cān chā, xìng cài; zuǒ yòu cǎi zhī.

8 Yǎo tiǎo, shú nǚ; qín sè yǒu zhī.

9 Cān chā, xìng cài; zuǒ yòu máo zhī.

10 Yǎo tiǎo, shú nǚ; zhōng gǔ lè zhī

2) Yǎo tiǎo M. & Tr. both words, "obscure; secluded; refined." K. yǎo "beautiful," tiǎo "good."

3) liú M. "flow;" Tr. "seek;" K. "catch."

 

1

Gwan, gwan! go the ospreys

on the island in the river.

A virgin girl, beautiful, good:

fine mate for the nobleman.

The water mallows grow, some tall, some short.

We pluck on the right, find more on the left.

A virgin girl, beautiful, good;

every day the young lord thinks of her,

when he sleeps, he seeks her in his dreams ---

he wants her, he can't get her.

Asleep, awake, he thinks of her,

all the workings of his mind work

only for her. Pensive, sad,

unable to sleep, he tosses

all night, shifts postion, changes side.

The water mallows grow, tall or short.

We pick some on the right, then on the left.

A virgin girl, beautiful, good,

led with wedding music. Lutes

commend her like friends, musicians pluck

her praises from the strings.

The water mallows grow, some tall, some short.

We harvest from the left, fill our baskets from the right.

A virgin girl, beautiful, good:

these are her wedding drums,

her wedding wine, her wedding happiness.

 

葛覃

覃﹐兮﹐施 谷﹐

葉﹐萋 萋。黃 飛﹐

木﹔其 喈。

覃﹐兮﹐施 谷﹐

葉。莫﹐莫﹗是 刈﹐是 濩。

絺﹐為 綌﹔服 斁。

氏﹐言 告﹐言﹕歸

私﹐薄 衣。

澣﹐害 否? 母。

2

1 Gé zhī tán, xī, shī yú zhōng gǔ,

2 wéi yè, qī qī. Huáng niǎo yú fēi,

3 jí yú guàn mù; qí míng jiē jiē.

4 Gé zhī tán, xī, shī yú zhōng gǔ,

5 wéi yè. Mò, mò! Shì yì, shì huò.

6 Wéi chī, wéi xì; fú zhī wú yì.

7 Yán gào shī shì, yán gào, yán: guī

8 bó wū wǒ sī, bó huǎn wǒ yī.

9 Hài huǎn, hài fǒu? Guī níng fù mǔ.

 

8) K. "a little." K. "dirt." K. "soak."

 

 

2

Far and wide grow the cloth-fibre trees,

down the hillsides, half across the vale,

leaves growing close, lush, very lush.

Yellow birds fly over, roost

in the cloth-tree grove, chirping all together.

Far and wide grow the cloth-fibre trees,

down the hillsides, half across the vale,

thick-leaved. Shave their bark!

Harvest it in strips! It's pounded, it's cooked,

we make it into linen, coarse or fine,

weave it well for cloth that lasts.

I'm going to talk to the matron in charge,

tell her, tell her I have to go home,

just for a little, to wash my own clothing,

I'll be right back when I've cleaned my dress.

What needs cleaning, what needs it indeed?

I need to go look in on my old mom and dad!

耳,不 筐。

嗟﹐我 人,寘 行。

嵬,我 虺﹐隤。

懷。

岡,我 黃。

傷。

矣,我 矣。

矣,云﹐何 矣!

 

3

1 Cǎi, cǎi juǎn ěr, bù yíng qǐng kuāng.

2 Jiē, wǒ huái rén, zhì bǐ zhōu xíng.

3 Zhì bǐ cuī wéi, wǒ mǎ huǐ, tuí.

4 Wǒ gū zhuó

5 bǐ jīn léi

6 wéi yǐ bù yǒng huái.

7 Zhì bǐ gāo gāng, wǒ mǎ xuán huáng.

8 Wǒ gū zhuó

9 bǐ sì gōng

10 wéi yǐ bù yǒng shāng.

11 Zhì bǐ qū yǐ, wǒ mǎ tú yǐ.

12 Wǒ pū pū yǐ, yún, hé xū yǐ!

1) qǐng M. 1160 "an instant, a short time," yet elsewhere (M454b) he defines it as "shallow," which is the meaning that fits best here as in poem 20.

7) xuán huáng M. "dark" and "yellow." Ancient languages are always a bit imprecise about color. Probably "dark" and "shiny," evidently a formulaic phrase for blood. Compare Yi Jing 2: lóng zhàn yú yě, qí xiě xuán huáng 野,其 .

 

3

In the field a woman picks flowers,

a young woman, picking, distractedly picking,

she hasn't managed to fill her basket

shallow as it is.

She sighs. A man has taken her heart.

She sets her basket

down at the side of the road

he left on, the king's highway.

He's going slow up rocky heights now,

his horse is listless, stumbles.

He pauses, pours wine from a golden jar

hoping he may succeed for an instant

in not missing her with all his heart.

Now he climbs a tall ridge, a narrow rock path,

the horse is bleeding, its blood is shiny, dark.

The nobleman stops, just for a minute,

takes another drink from his cup

carved from precious rhino horn,

he tries to make his wound not hurt,

his wound that cannot bleed and always aches.

At last he's made it past the peaks,

his weary squire leads the limping horse

and complains, "Alas, alas!"

to no one in particular.

 

 

 

 

 

樛木

木﹐葛﹐藟 之﹕

只﹐君 子,福 之﹗

木﹐葛﹐藟 之﹕

只﹐君 子,福 之﹗

木,葛﹐藟 之。

只﹐君 子,福 之﹗

 

 

4

1 Nán yǒu jiū mù, gé, lěi léi zhī:

2 Lè zhǐ, jūn zi, fú lǚ suī zhī!

3 Nán yǒu jiū mù, gé, lěi huāng zhī.

4 Lè zhī jūn zifú lǚ jiāng zhī!

5 Nán yǒu jiū mù, gé, lěi yíng zhī.

6 Lè zhī, jūn zi, fú lǚ chéng zhī!

2) M. "Shoe. To walk; actions, conduct; ceremonies. From this last we derive the sense of "honor" or "dignity."

 

4

There's a tree down south, the cloth-fibre tree,

its boughs are draped with hanging vines:

O, happy is the noble lord,

good fortune and honors content him.

There's a tree down south, the cloth-fibre tree,

wild hanging vines overgrow its boughs:

O, happy is the noble lord,

good fortune and honors escort him.

There's a tree down south, the cloth-fibre tree,

its boughs are wound around with vines:

O, happy is the noble lord.

good fortune and honors perfect him.

螽﹐斯 羽,詵 詵﹐兮﹕

振﹐兮。

螽﹐斯 羽,薨 薨﹐兮﹕

繩﹐兮。

螽﹐斯 羽,揖 揖﹐兮﹕

蟄﹐ 兮。

 

5

1 Zhōng, sī yǔ, shēn shēn, xī:

2 yí ěr zǐ sūn zhèn zhèn, xī.

3 Zhōng, sī yǔ, hōng hōng, xī:

4 yí ěr zǐ sūn shéng shéng, xī.

5 Zhōng, sī yǔ, yī yī, xī:

6 yí ěr zǐ sūn zhí zhí, xī.

1) K. notes, is here a nearly meaningless demonstrative.

5) M. does not provide any guidance for how to render the various words for "numerous," so I have made use of the visual etymologies. To have simply employed different English words (infinite, copious, &c.) would have been to employ even less plausible Latin roots to convey the flavor of the Chinese. My only rendering that seriously diverges from the Chinese is . M. offers the easy emendation that is used for , but this hardly seems necessary. Yī, "greet," has the visual etymology of hands joined in greeting, suggesting the joining together of the wings, with a pleasing pun on the concept of greeting or saluting. In English the closest parallel concept is "applause."

5

Locusts, limitless, countless sound,

noisy as a crowd:

it's only right your sons, grandsons,

multiply beyond the count

of two hands' fingers.

Locusts, the sheer wings of them!

numberless as blades of grass:

it's only right your sons, grandsons

spin out a measureless line of descent.

Locusts, wings upon wings,

crowded as an audience, loud as applause

it's only right your sons, grandsons

swarm like summer's grasshopper horde.

 

夭,灼 華﹕

之﹐子 歸,宜 家。

夭,有 蕡﹐其 實﹕

之﹐子 歸,宜 室。

夭,其 蓁﹕

之﹐子 歸,宜 人。

6

1 Táo zhī yāo yāo, zhuó zhuó qí huá:

2 zhī, zǐ yú guī, yí qí shì jiā.

3 Táo zhī yāo yāo, yǒu fén, qí shí:

4 zhī, zǐ yú guī, yí qí jiā shì.

5 Táo zhī yāo yāo, qí yè zhēn zhēn:

6 zhī, zǐ yú guī, yí qí jiā rén.

 

6

The peach tree's fresh-leaved, flowering bright:

the noble lady's going to be married,

she'll see to it her house is kept proper and neat.

The peach tree's fresh-leaved, rich with fruit,

the noble lady's going to be married,

she'll see to it each room is ordered with care.

The peach tree's thick-leaved, makes cool shade,

the noble lady's going to be married,

she'll see to it her servants are busy, alert.

 

兔罝

罝,椓 之﹐丁 丁﹗

赳﹐武 夫,公 城。

罝,施 逵。

赳﹐武 夫,公 仇。

罝﹐施 林。

赳﹐武 夫,公 心。

 

7

1 Sù sù tù jū, zhuó zhī, dīng dīng!

2 Jiǔ jiǔ, wǔ fū, gōng hóu gān chéng.

3 Sù sù, tù jū, shī yú zhōng kuí.

4 Jiǔ jiǔ, wǔ fū, gōng hóu hǎo chóu.

5 Sù sù, tù jū, shī yú zhōng lín.

6 Jiǔ jiǔ, wǔ fū, gōng hóu fù xīn.

 

1) I follow K. who emends to (composed of the three line form of to the left of (Unicode: U+3A4B, CCCII: 223470, a character which is unfortunately not available in my program; neither is is listed in M.) The meaning is "strike, pound."

 

7

Pound in the stakes for the rabbit snare,

ding! ding! hammer them in,

ding, ding! like a halberd's ring!

Gallant and brave is the man-at-arms,

a shield and wall to his noble lord.

Pound in the stakes for the rabbit snare,

right in the place where two trails cross,

set it just where it needs to be!

Gallant and brave is the man-at-arms,

a good loyal friend to his noble lord.

Pound in the stakes for the rabbit snare,

place it far, in the deep of the woods,

in a place that only the hunter knows!

Gallant and brave is the man-at-arms,

the very heart and mind of his noble lord.

芣苡

采﹐采 苡﹔薄﹐言﹐ 之。

采﹐采 苡﹔薄﹐言﹐有 之。

采﹐采 苡﹔薄﹐言﹐掇 之。

采﹐采 苡﹔薄﹐言﹐捋 之。

采﹐采 苡﹔薄﹐言﹐袺 之。

采﹐采 苡﹔薄﹐言﹐襭 之。

8

1 Cǎi, cǎi fóu yǐ; bó, yán, cǎi zhī.

2 Cǎi, cǎi fóu yǐ; bó, yán, yǒu zhī.

3 Cǎi, cǎi fóu yǐ; bó, yán, duó zhī.

4 Cǎi, cǎi fóu yǐ; bó, yán, luó zhī.

5 Cǎi, cǎi fóu yǐ; bó, yán, jié zhī.

6q Cǎi, cǎi fóu yǐ; bó, yán, jié zhī.

 

8

Picking the plantains, pick pick pick,

garner 'em, gather 'em up, O,

gather 'em, get 'em all, O!

Picking the plantains, pick pick pick,

tug 'em down, take 'em down, O,

pick 'em down, pluck 'em down all, O!

Picking the plantains, pick pick pick,

fill your apron full, O,

bundle 'em, bear 'em all home, O!

漢廣

木,不 息﹔

女,不 求﹐思。

矣,不 泳﹐思﹔

矣,不 方﹐思。

翹﹐翹 薪﹐言﹐刈 楚﹔

之﹐子 歸﹐言﹐秣 馬。

矣,不 泳﹐思﹔

矣,不 方﹐思。

翹﹐翹 薪,言﹐刈 蔞﹔

之﹐子 歸﹔言﹐秣 駒。

矣,不 泳﹐思﹔

矣,不 方﹐思。

 

 

9

1 Nán yǒu qiáo mù, bù kě xiū xī;

2 Hàn yǒu yóu nǚbù kě qiú, sī.

3 Hàn zhī guǎng yǐ, bù kě yǒng, sī;

4 Jiāng zhī yǒng yǐ, bù kě fāng, sī.

5 Qiáo qiáo, cuò xīn, yán, yì qí chǔ;

6 zhī, zǐ yú guī, yán, mò qí mǎ.

7 Hàn zhī guǎng yǐ, bù kě yǒng, sī;

8 Jiāng zhī yǒng yǐ, bù kě fāng, sī.

9 Qiáo qiáo cuò xīn, yán, yì qí lóu;

10 zhī, zǐ yú guī; yán, mò qí jū.

11 Hàn zhī guǎng yǐ, bù kě yǒng, sī;

12 Jiāng zhī yǒng yǐ, bù kě fāng, sī.

 

4) All my predecessors translate fāng "raft." This is indeed what the character itself (the 70th radical in M.) represents. However, fāng nowhere has this meaning. The desire to have a neat parallel to "swim" in the preceding line seems to have inspired the reading. But the plain meaning given in M., "compare, parallel," fits the context well. I also note that "think" and yán "say" are usually just a colorless emphasis-particles, like "O" in English poetry, but in the context of this refrain, we are justified in taking more literally.

5) I take cuò to mean "chaotic, rough, unrefined, unordered." M. 6793 gives "to be confused" among the primary meanings. and this is certainly akin to the concept required here. I take the chǔ here, like the lóu in line 9 as terms for a kind of growth rather than the names of different plants. M. and the traditional sources K. cites offer no certainty as to what these terms actually mean, so I look to the images for etymology.

 

 

9

There's a tree that grows to the south of here,

too tall to grant its shadow

to the man that leans against it to rest.

There's a river that flows just south of here,

the Han: the girls who bathe in it

are pretty fishes hard to catch.

The river Han's too broad

to even consider swimming across,

the Jiang river's long, mind of man

can't fathom such endlessness.

We stack, stack high the new-cut fuel,

lop the rough logs free of branches;

the noble lady's coming to be married,

we'll give her horses grain when she arrives.

The river Han's too broad

to even consider swimming across,

the Jiang river's long, mind of man

can't fathom such endlessness.

We stack, stack high the new-cut fuel,

shave the rough logs free of leaf and twig;

the noble lady's coming to be married,

we'll give her ponies grain when she arrives.

The river Han's too broad

to even consider swimming across,

the Jiang river's long, mind of man

can't fathom such endlessness.

汝墳

墳,伐 枚。

子,惄 調 飢。

墳,伐 肄。

子,不 棄。

尾,王 燬。

燬,父 邇。

 

11

1 Zūn bǐ rǔ fén, fá qí tiáo méi.

2 Wèi jiàn jūn zi, nì rú diào jī.

3 Zūn bǐ rǔ fén, fá qí tiáo yì.

4 Jì jiàn jūn zi, bù wǒ xiá qì.

5 Fáng yú chēng wěi, wáng shì rú huǐ.

6 Suī zé rú huǐ, fù mǔ kǒng ěr.

The poem as is stands is quite unintelligible. There are obvious corruptions which not even the ingenuity of ancient commentators can impose an order on, the conjunctions and have no meaning as they are used, and attempts to elucidate the "red fish" are unconvincing. Translations of damaged poems such as this demonstrate a lack of candor, or a lack of grammar.

振﹐振 子。

于﹐嗟﹐麟﹐兮!

振﹐振 姓。

于﹐嗟﹐麟﹐兮!

振﹐振 族。

于﹐嗟﹐麟﹐兮!

 

11

1 Lín zhī zhǐ zhèn, zhèn gōng zǐ.

2 Yú, jiē, lín, xī!

3 Lín zhī dìng zhèn, zhèn gōng xìng.

4 Yú, jiē, lín, xī!

5 Lín zhī jiǎo zhèn, zhèn gōng zú.

6 Yú, jiē, lín, xī!

The poem hinges on the zhèn, which uses its meaning "shake, move" when applied to the lín, and its meaning "numerous" when applied to the ducal family. I approximate this usage by supplying other adjectives which may be appropriately applied to both. Admittedly, this rather misses the original point, to wish the duke much progeny by a kind of verbal sympathetic magic. But it does convey the equally important concept of hunting as an aristocratic pastime.

 

11

Startled, the unicorn gallops,

the sons of the duke hear its hooves.

They follow fast, After it,

the unicorn, O the quick beast!

The hunted unicorn tosses its head,

facing the sons of duke.

The duke's whole family's gallant. After it,

the unicorn, O the noble beast!

The unicorn's bayed, brandishes horn,

facing the sons of the duke,

sons of a numerous, warlike clan.

After it, the unicorn,

O the brave beast!

 

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