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THE BOOK OF POETRY.
LESSONS FROM THE STATES.
Book I. The Odes of Chow and the South.
TITLE OF THE WHOLE WORK. This in Chinese is SHE KING, “The Book of Poetry,” or simply SHE, “ The Poems." By poetry, according to Chinese scholars, is denoted the expression, in rhymed words, of thought impregnated with feeling. In this collection there were originally 311 pieces, but of six of them there are only the titles remaining. They are generally short; not one of them, indeed, is a long poem. Father Lacharme, a Roman Catholic missionary who translated them into Latin about a century and a half ago, calls the Book Liber Car. minum; and with most English writers the ordinary designation of them has been “The Book of Odes.” Ode is a sufficiently correct designation of many of the pieces, understanding by that term a short lyric poem. Some might better be termed songs ; some ballads ; and others Bardio effusions. All come under the general name of Poems.
TITLE OF THE PART. This in Chinese is Kroh Fung, which I have translated “Lessons from the States." Sir John Davis translates the words by “ The manners of the States." Similarly the French Sinologues render them by “Les meurs des Royaumes.” Choo He, the foremost of Chinese critics, says :—“The pieces are called Fung, because they owe their origin to, and are descriptive of, the influence produced by superiors ; and the exhibition of this is again sufficient to affect men, just as things give forth sound when moved by the wind, and their sound is again sufficient to move other things.” “ Lessons from the States" seems therefore to come nearer to the force of the Chinese terms than “Manners of the States."
The States are those of Chow, Shaou, P'ei, Yung, and the others, which give their names to the severai Books.
TITLE OF THE BOOK.-" The Odes of Chow and the South.” By Chow is intended the Seat of the House or lords of Chow, from the time of “the old duke T'an-foo" in B.C. 1325, to king Wån. The chiefs of Chow traced their lineage back to K'e, better known as · How-tseih, Shun's minister of Agriculture, more than 2000 years B.C. His descendants had withdrawn among the wild tribes of the west and north ;
but one of them, called duke Lëw, returned to China in B.c. 1796, and made a settlement in Pin, the site of which is pointed out in the present Pin Chow in Shen-se. There the family remained till T'an-foo moved still farther south in B.C. 1325, and settled in K'e, in the present district of K'e-shan, department Fung-ts'ëang. Thence his grandson Wăn moved south and east again, across the Wei, to Fung, south-west from the present provincial city of Se-gan. When Wån took this step, he separated the original Chow-K'e-chow-into Chow and Shaou, which he made the appanages of his son Tan, and of Shih, one of his principal supporters. The pieces in this Book are said to have been collected by Tan in Chow, and the States lying south from it, along the Han and other rivers.
The Kran-ts'eu ; mainly allusive. CELEBRATING THE VIRTUE OF THE BRIDE OF KING WÅN, HIS QUEST FOR HER, AND WELCOMING HER TO HIS PALACE.
This is the view of Choo He, and is so in accordance with the language of the stanzas, that it is not worth while to discuss the view of the older school,-that the subject of the piece is Wăn's queen, and that it celebrates her freedom from jealousy, and her anxiety to fill his harem with virtuous ladies! It is, moreover, entirely from tradition, that we believe the subject to be the famous T'ae-sze, Wăn's bride and queen.
I have given the Chinese name of the piece,—the Kran-ts'eu, two characters in the first line. The names of most of the other pieces are formed in the same way, and are not in themselves descriptive of their subjects. They were attached to them, however, before the time of Confucius.
1 Hark! from the islet in the stream the voice
Of the fish-hawks that o'er their nest rejoice!
So fair, so virtuous, and so fit a mate ?
Sway left and right, as moves the current strong!
Tossing about, one turns his fevered head.
But caught at last, we seize the longed-for prize.
The maiden modest, virtuous, coy, is found;
The Koh t'an; narrative. CELEBRATING THE INDUSTRY AND DUTIFULNESS OF KING WÅN'S QUEEN.
It is supposed to have been made, and however that was, it is to be read as if it had been made, by the queen herself. The old interpreters held that the piece was of T'ae-sze in her virgin prime, intent on all woman's work, and they placed it among the allusive pieces. The first two stanzas might be thus explained; but the third requires too much straining to admit of a proleptical interpretation as to what the virgin would do in the future when a married wife.
1 Sweet was the scene. The spreading dolichos
Extended far, down to the valley's depths,
2 The spreading dolichos extended far,
Covering the valley's sides, down to its depths,
To wear, unwearied of such simple dress.
To see, I go. The matron I have told,
The K euen-urh: narrative, LAMENTING THE ABSENCE OF A CHERISHED FRIEND, PROBABLY OF A HUSBAND,
The old interpreters thought that this ode celebrated T'ae-sze for being earnestly bent on getting the court of Chow filled with worthy ministers, for sympathizing with faithful officers in their toils on distant expeditions, and for suggesting to king Wăn to feast them on their return. It is astonishing that the imperial editors should still lean to this view; on which the piece belongs to the allusive class.
Choo ascribes the ode to T'ae-sze, whose husband, “the man of her heart," is absent on some toilsome expedition, and for whose return she longs in vain, I must drop the idea of T'ae-sze altogether, and can make nothing more of the piece than I have stated. We must read it as if it were from the pencil of its subject, and narrative.
1 Though small my basket, all my toil
Filled it with mouse-ears but in part.
For the dear master of my heart.
When midway up that rocky height.
When shall this longing end in sight? 3 To mount that lofty ridge I drove,
Until my steeds all changed their hue.
May help my longing to subdue.
My steeds, worn out, relaxed their strain;
I'll never see my lord again!
The Këw-muh; allusive. CELEBRATING T'AE-SZE'S FREEDOM FROM JEALOUSY, AND OFFERING FERVENT WISHES FOR HER HAPPINESS.
The piece is supposed to be from the ladies of king Wăn's harem, in praise of Tae-sze, who was not jealous of them, but cherished them rather, as the great tree does the creepers that twine round it.
1 In the South are the trees whose branches are bent, And droop in such fashion that o'er their extent
All the dolichos' creepers fast cling.
And her honours repose ever bring!
2 In the South are the trees whose branches are bent, And droop in such fashion that o'er their extent
All the dolichos' creepers are spread. See our princely lady, from whom we have got Rejoicing that's endless! Of her happy lot
And her honours the greatness ne'er fade! 3 In the South are the trees whose branches are bent, And droop in such fashion that o'er their extent
All the dolichos' creepers entwine.
And her honours complete ever shine!
The Chung-sze ; metaphorical. THE FRUITFULNESS OF THE LOCUST ; SUPPOSED TO CELEBRATE T'AE-SZE'S FREEDOM FROM JEALOUSY.
The piece is purely metaphorical, T'ae-sze not being mentioned in it. The reference to her exists only in the writer's mind. This often dis. tinguishes such pieces from those which are allusive.
1 Ye locusts, wingèd tribes,
Gather in concord fine;
In numerous bright hosts shine!
Your wings in flight resound;
In endless lines be found !
Together cluster strong;
In swarms for ever throng!
The Taou yaou ; allusive. PRAISE OF A BRIDE GOING TO HER FUTURE HOME
1 Graceful and young the peach tree stands;
How rich its flowers, all gleaming bright!