〈王風〉

This set of poems is associated with the royal domain of King Ping (770-20 BC) of the Eastern Zhou period, which located its capital in present-day Luoyang. As such, the poems were read as emblematic of the decline of Zhou power. The two “cloth-plant” poems (nos. 71 and 72) are part of a large group of poems throughout thetat utilize similar imagery and themes.

065〈王風・黍離〉

Legge

There was the millet with its drooping heads;
There was the sacrificial millet into blade.
Slowly I moved about,
In my heart all-agitated.
Those who knew me,
Said I was sad at heart.
Those who did not know me,
Said I was seeking for something.
O distant and azure Heaven!
By what man was this [brought about]?

There was the millet with its drooping heads;
There was the sacrificial millet in the ear.
Slowly I moved about,
My heart intoxicated, as it were, [with grief].
Those who knew me,
Said I was sad at heart.
Those who did not know me,
Said I was seeking for something.
O thou distant and azure Heaven!
By what man was this [brought about]?

There was the millet with its drooping heads;
There was the sacrificial millet in grain.
Slowly I moved about,
As if there were a stoppage at my heart.
Those who knew me,
Said I was sad at heart.
Those who did not know me,
Said I was seeking for something.
O thou distant and azure Heaven!
By what man was this [brought about]?

Waley

The Wine-Millet Bends

That wine-millet bends under its weight,
That cooking-millet is in sprout.
I go on my way, bowed down
By the cares that shake my heart.
Those who know me
Say, “It is because his heart is so sad.”
Those who do not know me
Say, “What is he looking for?”1
Oh, azure Heaven far away,
What sort of men can they be?

That wine-millet bends under its weight,
That cooking-millet is in spike.
I go on my way bowed down
By the cares that poison my heart within.
Those who know me
Say, “It is because his heart is so sad.”
Those who do not know me
Say, “What is he looking for?”
Oh, azure Heaven far away,
What sort of men can they be?

That wine-millet bends under its weight,
That cooking-millet is in grain.
I go on my way bowed down
By the cares that choke my heart within.
Those who know me
Say, “It is because his heart is so sad.”
Those who do not know me
Say, “What is he looking for?”
Oh, azure Heaven far away,
What sort of men can they be?

1. Seeing his bowed head, they think he is looking on the ground for something he has dropped.

066〈王風・君子于役〉

Legge

My husband is away on service,
And I know not when he will return.
Where is he now?
The fowls roost in their holes in the walls;
And in the evening of the day,
The goats and cows come down [from the hill];
But my husband is away on service.
How can I but keep thinking of him?

My husband is away on service,
Not for days [merely] or for months.
When will he come back to me?
The fowls roost on their perches;
And in the evening of the day,
The goats and cows come down down and home;
But my husband is away on service.
Oh if he be but kept from hunger and thirst!

Waley

My Lord Is on Service

My lord is on service;
He did not know for how long.
Oh, when will he come?
The fowls are roosting in their holes,
Another day is ending,
The sheep and cows are coming down.
My lord is on service;
How can I not be sad?

My lord is on service;
Not a matter of days, nor months.
Oh, when will he be here again?
The fowls are roosting on their perches,
Another day is ending,
The sheep and cows have all come down.
My lord is on service;
Were I but sure that he gets drink and food!

067〈王風・君子陽陽〉

Legge

My husband looks full of satisfaction.
In his left hand he holds his reed-organ,
And with his right he calls me to the room.
Oh the joy!

My husband looks delighted.
In his left hand he holds his screen of feathers,
And with his right he calls me to the stage.
Oh the joy!

Waley

My Lord Is All Aglow

My lord is all aglow.
In his left hand he holds the reed-organ,
With his right he summons me to make free with him.
Oh, the joy!

My lord is care-free.
In his left hand he holds the dancing plumes,
With his right he summons me to sport with him.
Oh, the joy!

068〈王風・揚之水〉

Legge

The fretted waters,
Do not carry on their current a bundle of firewood!
Those, the members of our families,
Are not with us here guarding Shen.
How we think of them! How we think of them!
What month shall we return home?

The fretted waters,
Do not carry on their current a bundle of thorns!
Those, the members of our families,
Are not with us here guarding Pu.
How we think of them! How we think of them!
What month shall we return?

The fretted waters,
Do not carry on their current a bundle of osiers!
Those, the members of our families,
Are not with us here guarding Xu.
How we think of them! How we think of them!
What month shall we return?

Waley

In 770 BC the Zhou capital was sacked by barbarian tribes, and the Zhou dynasty came to an end. A new capital was set up near Luoyang in Henan, but henceforward the Zhou (now known as Eastern Zhou) ceased to have any real political power, the Zhou king becoming merely the religious head of the affiliated states. The states of Qin and Jin kept the barbarians in check to the northwest. The real danger to the diminished Zhou kingdom came the rising power of the Chu people in the south. In nos. 68 and 259 we find the king’s soldiers defending Shen, Fu, and Xu in soutern Henan. In no. 153 we find the people of Cao in southern Shandong lamenting the decline of Zhou and ready to march to its assistance.

The Spraying of the Waters1

The spraying of the waters
Cannot float away firewood that is bundled.2
Yet those fine gentlemen
Are not here with us defending Shen.
Oh, the longing, the longing!
In what month shall we get home?

The spraying of the waters
Cannot float away thornwood that is bundled.
Yet those fine gendemen
Are not here with us defending Fu.
Oh, the longing, the longing!
In what month shall we get home?

The spraying of the waters
Cannot float away osiers that are bundled.
Yet those fine gentlemen
Are not here with us defending Xu.
Oh, the longing, the longing!
In what month shall we get home?

1. This tide appears three times in the collection (cf. nos. 92 and 116), although Waley translates it slightly differendy each time. Ed.
2. An image of cohesion.

069〈王風・中谷有蓷〉

Legge

In the valleys grows the mother-wort,
But scorched is it in the drier places.
There is a woman forced to leave her husband;
Sadly she sighs!
Sadly she sighs!
She suffers from his hard lot.

In the valleys grows the mother-wort,
But scorched is it where it had become long.
There is a woman forced to leave her husband;
Long-drawn are her groanings!
Long-drawn are her groanings!
She suffers from his misfortune.

In the valleys grows the mother-wort,
But scorched is it even in the moist places.
There is a woman forced to leave her husband;
Ever flow her tears!
Ever flow her tears!
But of what avail is her lament?

Waley

In the Midst of the Valley Is Motherwort

In the midst of the valley is motherwort
All withered and dry.
A girl on her own,
Bitterly she sobs,
Bitterly she sobs,
Faced with man’s unkindness.

In the midst of the valley is motherwort
All withered and seared.
A girl on her own,
Long she sighs,
Long she sighs,
Faced with man’s wickedness.

In the midst of the valley is motherwort
All withered and parched.
A girl on her own,
In anguish she weeps,
In anguish she weeps;
But what does grief avail?

Tui, Siberian motherwort, is also called “The herb good for mothers.”

070〈王風・兔爰〉

Legge

The hare is slow and cautious;
The pheasant plumps into the net.
In the early part of my life,
Time still passed without commotion.
In the subsequent part of it,
We are meeting with all these evils.
I wish I might sleep and never move more.

The hare is slow and cautious;
The pheasant plumps into the snare.
In the early part of my life,
Time still passed without anything stirring.
In the subsequent part of it,
We are meeting with all these sorrows.
I wish I might sleep and never move more.

The hare is slow and cautious;
The pheasant plumps into the trap.
In the early part of my life,
Time still passed without any call for our services.
In the subsequent part of it,
We are meeting with all these miseries.
I would that I might sleep, and hear of nothing more.

Waley

The Gingerly Hare

Gingerly walked the hare,
But the pheasant was caught in the snare.
At the beginning of my life
All was still quiet;
In my latter days
I have met these hundred woes.1
Would that I might sleep and never stir!

Gingerly walked the hare;
But the pheasant got caught in the trap.
At the beginning of my life
The times were not yet troublous.
In my latter days
I have met these hundred griefs.
Would that I might sleep and wake no more!

Gingerly walked the hare;
But the pheasant got caught in the net.
At the beginning of my life
The times were still good.
In my latter days
I have met these hundred calamities.
Would that I might sleep and hear no more!

1. The fall of the Western Zhou dynasty?

071〈王風・葛藟〉

Legge

Thickly they spread about, the dolichos creepers,
On the borders of the He.
For ever separated from my brothers,
I call a stranger father.
I call a stranger father,
But he will not look at me.

Thickly they spread about, the dolichos creepers,
On the banks of the He.
For ever separated from my brothers,
I call a stranger mother.
I call a stranger mother,
But she will not recognize me.

Thickly they spread about, the dolichos creepers,
On the lips of the He.
For ever separated from my brothers,
I call a stranger elder-brother.
I call a stranger elder-brother,
But he will not listen to me.

Waley

Close the Cloth-Plant Spreads

Close the cloth-plant spreads its fibers
Along the banks of the river.
Far from big brothers, from little brothers
I must call a stranger “Father,”
Must call a stranger “Father”;
But he does not heed me.

Close the cloth-plant spreads its fibers
Along the margin of the river.
Far from big brothers, from little brothers
I must call a stranger “Mother,”
Must call a stranger “Mother”;
But she does not own me.

Close the cloth-plant spreads its fibers
Along the lips of the river.
Far from big brothers, from little brothers
I must call strangers kinsmen,
Must call strangers kinsmen;
But they do not listen to me.

Huang

Long unbroken vine tendrils
Along edges of the river.
In the end, far am I from fraternity:
Someone other I call my father.
Someone other I call my father—
Yet none would turn to me.

Long unbroken vine tendrils
Along brinks of the river.
In the end, far am I from fraternity:
Someone other I call my mother.
Someone other I call my mother—
Yet none would have me.

Long unbroken vine tendrils
Along lips of the river.
In the end, far am I from fraternity:
Someone other I call my brother.
Someone other I call my brother—
Yet none would heed me.

072〈王風・采葛〉

Legge

There he is gathering the dolichos!
A day without seeing him,
Is like three months!

There he is gathering the oxtail-southern-wood!
A day without seeing him,
Is like three seasons!

There he is gathering the mugwort!
A day without seeing him,
Is like three years!

Waley

Plucking Cloth-Creeper

Oh, he is plucking cloth-creeper,
For a single day I have not seen him;
It seems like three months!

Oh, he is plucking southernwood,
For a single day I have not seen him;It seems like three autumns!

Oh, he is plucking mugwort,
For a single day I have not seen him;
It seems like three years!

073〈王風・大車〉

Legge

His great carriage rumbles along,
And his robes of rank glitter like the young sedge.
Do I not think of you?
But I am afraid of this officer, and dare not.

His great carriage moves heavily and slowly,
And his robes of rank glitter like a carnation-gem.
Do I not think of you?
But I am afraid of this officer, and do not rush to you.

While living, we may have to occupy different apartments;
But when dead, we shall share the same grave.
If you say that I am not sincere,
By the bright sun I swear that I am.

Waley

My Great Carriage

“I brought my great carriage that thunders
And a coat downy as rush-wool.
It was not that I did not love you,
But I feared that you had lost heart.

I brought my great carriage that rumbles
And a coat downy as the pink sprouts.1
It was not that I did not love you,
But I feared that you would not elope.”

Alive, they never shared a house,
But in death they had the same grave.
“You thought I had broken faith;
I was true as the bright sun above.”

1. Of red millet.

074〈王風・丘中有麻〉

Legge

On the mound where is the hemp,
Some one is detaining Zijie.
Some one is there detaining Zijie;
Would that he would come jauntily [to me]!

On the mound where is the wheat,
Some one is detaining Ziguo.
Some one is there detaining Ziguo;
Would that he would come and eat with me!

On the mound where are the plum trees,
Some one is detaining those youths.
Some one is there detaining those youths;
They will give me Jiu-stones for my girdle.

Waley

Among the Hillocks Grows the Hemp

Among the hillocks grows the hemp;
There works Zi-jue of Liu
There works Zi-jue of Liu.
If only he would come in and rest!

Among the hillocks grows the wheat;
There works Zi-guo of Liu,
There works Zi-guo of Liu.
If only he would come in to supper!

Among the hillocks grow the plum-trees;
There work those good men of Liu,
There work those good men of Liu
That gave me jet-stones for my girdle.