〈衛風〉

Wei was closely associated with the Zhou royal house (first enfeoffed brother of King Wu) and was one of the most powerful andest-lived feudal states throughout the Zhou and Warring States periods. The River Qi, which appears throughout the set, is a principle tributary of the Yellow River, crossing the Wei territory westst. This set, which can be grouped with the two preceding sets,1 contains a number of outstanding poems, especially the early narrative of “A Simple Peasant” (58) and the naive lyric “A Quince” (64).

1 This is seen, for example, in the description of a performance of the Songs in 543 BC, which is discussed in the Postface.

055〈衛風・淇奧〉

Legge

Look at those recesses in the banks of the Qi,
With their green bamboos, so fresh and luxuriant!
There is our elegant and accomplished prince,
As from the knife and the file,
As from the chisel and the polisher!
How grave is he and dignified!
How commanding and distinguished!
Our elegant and accomplished prince,
Never can he be forgotten!

Look at those recesses in the banks of the Qi,
With their green bamboos, so strong and luxuriant!
There is our elegant and accomplished prince,
With his ear-stoppers of beautiful pebbles,
And his cap, glittering as with stars between the seams!
How grave is he and dignified!
How commanding and distinguished!
Our elegant and accomplished prince,
Never can he be forgotten!

Look at those recesses in the banks of the Qi,
With their green bamboos, so dense together!
There is our elegant and accomplished prince,
[Pure] as gold and as tin,
[Soft and rich] as a sceptre of jade!
How magnanimous is he and gentle!
There he is in his chariot with its two high sides!
Skilful is he at quips and jokes,
But how does he keep from rudeness from them!

Waley

Little Bay of the Qi

Look at that little bay of the Qi,
Its kitesfoot1 so delicately waving.
Delicately fashioned is my lord,
As thing cut, as thing filed,
As thing chiseled, as thing polished.
Oh, the grace, the elegance!
Oh, the luster, oh, the light!
Delicately fashioned is my lord;
Never for a moment can I forget him.

Look at that little bay of the Qi,
Its kitesfoot so fresh.
Delicately fashioned is my lord,
His ear-plugs are of precious stones,
His cap-gems stand out like stars.
Oh, the grace, the elegance!
Oh, the luster, the light!
Delicately fashioned is my lord;
Never for a moment can I forget him.

Look at that little bay of the Qi,
Its kitesfoot in their crowds.
Delicately fashioned is my lord,
As a thing of bronze, a thing of white metal,
As a scepter of jade, a disc of jade.
How free, how easy
He leant over his chariot-rail!
How cleverly he chaffed and joked,
And yet was never rude!

1. A kind of reed-like grass

056〈衛風・考槃〉

Legge

He has reared his hut by the stream in the valley,
—That large man, so much at his ease.
Alone he sleeps, and wakes, and talks.
He swears he will never forgets [his true joy].

He has reared his hut in the bend of the mound,
—That large man, with such an air of indifference.
Alone he sleeps, and wakes, and sings.
He swears he will never pass from the spot.

He has reared his hut on the level height,
—That large man, so self-collected.
Alone, he sleeps and wakes, and sleeps again.
He swears he will never tell [of his delight].

Waley

Drumming and Dancing

Drumming and dancing1 in the gully
How light-hearted was that tall man!
Subtler than any of them at capping stories.
And he swore he would never forget me.

Drumming and dancing along the bank,
How high-spirited was that tall man!
Subtler than any at capping songs.
And he swore he would never fail me.

Dancing and drumming on the high ground,
How gay was that tall man!
Subtler than any at capping whistled tunes.
And he swore his love would never end.

1. Literally “bending the legs.” That particular kind of dancing (with bent knee), so common in the Far East, must be meant.

I think that too many of the songs have been explained by M. Granet as being connected with a festival of courtship in which the girls ands lined up on opposite sides of a stream—a type of festival well known in Indochina. This song, however, is clearly connected with such a meeting. An interesting book on courtship by exchange of songs has been published by N. van Huyen (Chants Alternés des Garçons Filles en Annam, 1934).

057〈衛風・碩人〉

Legge

Large was she and tall,
In her embroidered robe, with a [plain] single garment over it:
The daughter of the marquis of Qi.
The wife of the marquis of Wei,
The sister of the heir-son of Tong
The sister-in-law of the marquis of Xing,
The viscount of Tan also her brother-in-law.

Her fingers were like the blades of the young white-grass;
Her skin was like congealed ointment;
Her neck was like the tree-grub;
Her teeth were like melon seeds;
Her forehead cicada-like; her eyebrows like [the antenne of] the silkworm moth;
What dimples, as she artfully smiled!
How lovely her eyes, with the black and white so well defined!

Large was she and tall,
When she halted in the cultivated suburbs.
Strong looked her four horses,
With the red ornaments so rich about their bits.
Thus in her carriage, with its screens of pheasant feathers,
she proceeded to our court.
Early retire, ye great officers,
And do not make the marquis fatiqued!

The waters of the He, wide and deep,
Flow northwards in majestic course.
The nets are dropt into them with a plashing sound,
Among shoals of sturgeon, large and small,
While the rushes and sedges are rank about.
Splendidly adorned were her sister ladies;
Martial looked the attendant officers.

Waley

A Splendid Woman

A splendid woman and upstanding;
Brocade she wore, over an unlined coat,
Daughter of the Lord of Qi,
Wife of the Lord of Wei,
Sister of the Crown Prince of Qi,
Called sister-in-law by the Lord of Xing,
Calling the Lord of Tan her brother-in-law.

Hands white as rush-down,
Skin like lard,
Neck long and white as the tree-grub,
Teeth like melon seeds,
Lovely head, beautiful brows.
Oh, the sweet smile dimpling,
The lovely eyes so black and white.

This splendid lady takes her ease;
She rests where the fields begin.
Her four steeds prance,
The red trappings flutter.
Screened by fans of pheasant-feather she is led to Court.
Oh, you Great Officers, retire early,
Do not fatigue our lord.

Where the water of the river, deep and wide,
Flows northward in strong course,
In the fish-net’s swish and swirl
Sturgeon, snout-fish leap and lash.
Reeds and sedges tower high.
All her ladies are tall-coiffed;
All her knights, doughty men.

This poem celebrates the most famous wedding of Chinese antiquity, that of Zhuang Jiang, daughter of the Lord of Qi (northern Shandong), who married the Lord of Wei in 757 BC. Wei centered around the modern Wei-hui in northern Henan. Xing was farther north, on the borders of Henan and southern Hebei. Tan was themodern Cheng-zi-ai, near Long-shan, in central Shandong. It has become famous because of the excavations carried out there in recent years.1 One has to bear in mind that the bridegroom and bride are inother parts of the world often treated as though they were a kingand queen. It is not impossible that such a song as this, though royalin origin, was afterward sung at ordinary people’s weddings.

1. See, for example, Academia Sinica, 4.2 (1933).

058〈衛風・氓〉

Legge

A simple-looking lad you were,
Carrying cloth to exchange it for silk.
[But] you came not so to purchase silk;
You came to make proposals to me.
I convoyed you through the Qi,
As far as Dunqiu.
‘It is not I,’ [I said], ‘who would protract the time;
But you have had no good go-between.
I pray you be not angry,
And let autumn be the time.’

I ascended that ruinous wall,
To look towards Fuguan;
And when I saw [you] not [coming from] it;
My tears flowed in streams.
When I did see [you coming from] Fuquan,
I laughed and I spoke.
You had consulted, [you said], the tortoise-shell and the reeds,
And there was nothing unfavourable in their response.
‘Then come,’ [I said], ‘with your carriage,
And I will remove with my goods.

Before the mulberry tree has shed its leaves,
How rich and glossy are they!
Ah! thou dove,
Eat not its fruit [to excess].
Ah! thou young lady,
Seek no licentious pleasure with a gentleman.
When a gentleman indulges in such pleasure,
Something may still be said for him;
When a lady does so,
Nothing can be said for her.

When the mulberry tree sheds its leaves,
They fall yellow on the ground.
Since I went with you,
Three years have I eaten of your poverty;
And [now] the full waters of the Qi,
Wet the curtains of my carriage.
There has been no difference in me,
But you have been double in your ways.
It is you, Sir, who transgress the right,
Thus changeable in your conduct.

For three years I was your wife,
And thought nothing of my toil in your house.
I rose early and went to sleep late,
Not intermitting my labours for a morning.
Thus [on my part] our contract was fulfilled,
But you have behaved thus cruelly.
My brothers will not know [all this],
And will only laugh at me.
Silently I think of it,
And bemoan myself.

I was to grow old with you;
Old, you give me cause for sad repining.
The Qi has its banks,
And the marsh has its shores.
In the pleasant time of my girlhood, with my hair simply gathered in a knot,
Harmoniously we talked and laughed.
Clearly were we sworn to good faith,
And I did not think the engagement would be broken.
That it would be broken I did not think,
And now it must be all over!

Waley

A Simple Peasant

We thought you were a simple peasant
Bringing cloth to exchange for thread.
But you had not come to buy thread;
You had come to arrange about me.
You were escorted across the Qi
As far as Beacon Hill.
“It is not I who want to put it off;
But you have no proper match-maker.
Please do not be angry;
Let us fix on autumn as the time.”

I climbed that high wall
To catch a glimpse of Fu-guan,1
And when I could not see Fu-guan
My tears fell flood on flood.
At last I caught sight of Fu-guan,
And how gaily I laughed and talked!
You consulted your yarrow-stalks2
And their patterns showed nothing unlucky.
You came with your cart
And moved me and my dowry.

Before the mulberry-tree sheds its leaves,
How soft and glossy they are!
O dove, turtle-dove,
Do not eat the mulberries!3
O ladies, ladies,
Do not take your pleasure with men.
For a man to take his pleasure
Is a thing that may be condoned.
That a girl should take her pleasure
Cannot be condoned.

The mulberry-leaves have fallen
All yellow and seared.
Since I came to you,
Three years I have eaten poverty.
The waters of the Qi were in flood;
They wetted the curtains of the carriage.4
It was not I who was at fault;
It is you who have altered your ways,
It is you who are unfaithful,
Whose favors are cast this way and that.

Three years I was your wife.
I never neglected my work.
I rose early and went to bed late;
Never did I idle.
First you took to finding fault with me,
Then you became rough with me.
My brothers disowned me;
“Ho, ho,” they laughed.
And when I think calmly over it,
I see that it was I who brought all this upon myself.

I swore to grow old along with you;
I am old, and have got nothing from you but trouble.
The Qi has its banks,
The swamp has its sides;
With hair looped and ribboned5
How gaily you talked and laughed,
And how solemnly you swore to be true,
So that I never thought there could be a change.
No, of a change I never thought;
And that this should be the end!

1. Where her lover was. The scene is northern Henan.
2. Used in divination. See no. 169, verse 4.
3. Which are supposed to make doves drunk.
4. Which was a good omen.
5. While still an uncapped youth.

059〈衛風・竹竿〉

Legge

With your long and tapering bamboo rods,
You angle in the Qi.
Do I not think of you?
But I am far away, and cannot get you.

The Quanyuan is on the left,
And the waters of the Qi are on the right.
But when a young lady goes away, [and is married],
She leaves her brothers and parents.

The waters of the Qi are on the right
And the Quanyuan is on the left.
How shine the white teeth through the artful smiles!
How the girdle gems move to the measured steps!

The waters of the Qi flow smoothly;
There are the oars of cedar and boats of pine.
Might I but go there in my carriage and ramble,
To dissipate my sorrow!

Waley

Bamboo Rod

How it tapered, the bamboo rod
With which you fished in the Qi!
It is not that I do not love you,
But it is so far that I cannot come.
The Well Spring is on the left;
The Qi River on the right.
When a girl is married
She is far from brothers, from father and mother.

How it tapered, the bamboo rod
With which you fished in the Qi!
It is not that I do not love you,
But it is so far that I cannot come.
The Well Spring is on the left;
The Qi River on the right.
When a girl is married
She is far from brothers, from father and mother.
While still an uncapped youth.

The Qi River is on the right,
The Well Spring is on the left;
But, oh, the grace of his loving smile!
Oh, the quiver of his girdle stones!
The Qi spreads its waves;
Oars of juniper, boat of pine-wood.
Come, yoke the horses, let us drive away,
That I may be rid at last of my pain.

060〈衛風・芄蘭〉

Legge

There are the branches of the sparrow-gourd;
There is that lad, with the spike at his girdle.
Though he carries a spike at his girdle,
He does not know us.
How easy and conceited is his manner,
With the ends of his girdle hanging down as they do!

There are the leaves of the sparrow-gourd;
There is that lad with the archer’s thimble at his girdle.
Though he carries an archer’s thimble at his girdle,
He is not superior to us.
How easy and conceited is his manner,
With the ends of his girdle hanging down as they do!

Waley

Vine-Bean

The branches of the vine-bean;1
A boy with knot-horn at his belt!
Even though he carries knot-horn2 at his belt,
Why should he not recognize me?
Oh, so free and easy
He dangles the gems at his waist!

The branches of the vine-bean;
A boy with archer’s thimble at his belt!
Even though he has thimble at belt,
Why should he not be friends with me?
Oh, so free and easy
He dangles the gems at his waist!

1. Generally identified as Metaplexis stauntoni, which would fit quite well.
2. The knot-horn, a pointed instrument for undoing knots, was worn by adultiresumably symbolizing their right to undo the knot of a bride’s girdle; whiletaring of the bowman’s thimble signified that a man was of age to go to war.

061〈衛風・河廣〉

Legge

Who says that the He is wide?
With [a bundle of] reeds I can cross it.
Who says that Song is distant?
On tiptoe I can see it.

Who says that the He is wide?
It will not admit a little boat.
Who says that Song is distant?
It would not take a whole morning to reach it.

Waley

The River Is Broad

Who says that the River is broad?
On a single reed you could cross it.
Who says that Song1 is far away?
By standing on tip-toe I can see it.

Who says that the River is broad?
There is not room in it even for a skiff.
Who says that Song is far away?
It could not take you so much as a morning.

1. Song lay to the south of the Yellow River, Wei to the north.

062〈衛風・伯兮〉

Legge

My noble husband is now martial-like!
The hero of the country!
My husband, grasping his halberd,
Is in the leading chariot of the king’s [host].

Since my husband went to the east,
My head has been like the flying [pappus of the] artemisia.
It is not that I could not anoint and wash it;
But for whom should I adorn myself?

O for rain! O for rain!
But brightly the sun comes forth.
Longingly I think of my husband,
Till my heart is weary, and my head aches.

How shall I get the plant of forgetfulness?
I would plant it on the north of my house.
Longingly I think of my husband,
And my heart is made to ache.

Waley

Bo Is Brave

Heigh, Bo is brave;
Greatest hero in the land!
Bo, grasping his lance,
Is outrider of the king.

Since Bo went to the east
My head has been tousled as the tumbleweed.
It is not that I lack grease to dress it with;
But for whom should I want to look nice?

Oh, for rain, oh, for rain!
And instead the sun shines dazzling.
All this longing for Bo
Brings weariness to the heart, aching to the head.

Where can I get a day-lily1
To plant behind the house?
All this longing for Bo
Can but bring me heart’s pain.

1. An herb of forgetfulness; the wasuregusa of Japanese love poetry which was wornat the belt.

063〈衛風・有狐〉

Legge

There is a fox, solitary and suspicious,
At that dam over the Qi.
My heart is sad;
That man has no lower garment.

There is a fox, solitary and suspicious,
At that deep ford of the Qi.
My heart is sad;
That man has no girdle.

There is a fox, solitary and suspicious,
By the side there of the Qi.
My heart is sad;
That man has no clothes.

Waley

There Is a Fox

There is a fox dragging along
By that dam on the Qi.
Oh, my heart is sad;
That man of mine has no robe.

There is a fox dragging along
By that ford on the Qi.
Oh, my heart is sad;
That man of mine has no belt.

There is a fox dragging along
By that side of the Qi.
Oh, my heart is sad;
That man of mine has no coat.

064〈衛風・木瓜〉

Legge

There was presented to me a papaya,
And I returned for it a beautiful Ju-gem;
Not as a return for it,
But that our friendship might be lasting.

There was presented to me a peach,
And I returned for it a beautiful Yao-gem;
Not as a return for it,
But that our friendship might be lasting.

There was presented to me a plum,
And I returned for it a beautiful Jiu-gem;
Not as a return for it,

Waley

A Quince

She threw a quince to me;
In requital I gave a bright girdle-gem.
No, not just as requital;
But meaning I would love her for ever.

She threw a tree-peach to me;
As requital I gave her a bright greenstone.
No, not just as requital;
But meaning I would love her for ever.

She threw a tree-plum to me;
In requital I gave her a bright jet-stone.
No, not just as requital,
But meaning I would love her for ever.

I have here used the term “requital” because it is technical in our pastoral poetry. For example, in Michael Drayton’s Pastorals:

His lass him lavender hath sent
Showing her love, and doth requital crave;
Him rosemary his sweetheart… [etc.]

Modern botanists identify the fruit of verse 1 as Cydonia sinensis (Chinese quince), that of verse 2 as Cyndonia japonica, and that ofverse 3 as the common quince. The names of the stones very likely indicate their shape and their position in the girdle-pendant rather than their quality.