〈魏風〉

Wey was a small state in the eastern part of present-day Shanxi, whichwas absorbed into the large state of Jin to the east in the seventh century BC. The last poem of this relatively small set, “Big Rat” (113), is by far the most noteworthy. It foreshadows the political laments that are so common in the “Minor Odes” but uses figurative language that is unusual for the Songs, both in the direct metaphor of calling the rapacious government a rat and in the invocation of the mysterious “happy land.”

1. Here and elsewhere I alter the spelling of this name (usually “Wei”) to distinguish it from the other state of Wei of present-day Henan (cf. nos. 55-64). Ed.

107〈魏風・葛屨〉

Legge

Shoes thinly woven of the dolichos fibre,
May be used to walk on the hoarfrost.
The delicate fingers of a bride,
May be used in making clothes.
[His bride] puts the waistband to his lower garment and the collar to his upper,
And he, a wealthy man, wears them.

Wealthy, he moves about quite at ease,
And politely he stands aside to the left.
From his girdle hangs his ivory comb-pin.
It is the narrowness of his disposition,
Which makes him a subject for satire.

Waley

Fiber Shoes

Fiber shoes tightly woven
Are good for walking upon the dew.
A girl’s fingers, long and slender,
Are good for sewing clothes.
Hem them, seam them;
The loved one shall wear them.

The loved one is very dutiful;
Humbly she steps aside.
Jade plugs at her ears,1
Ivory pendant2 at her belt.
Only—she is mean,
That is why I make this stab.

1. The meter shows that a line is missing. I supply one on the analogy of other poems.
2. The di 揥 of the Songs is a belt-pendant and not a hair-pin, as in later times.

I take this to be the “stab,” the wounding, spiteful song of a girl who considered she had not been properly rewarded for her toil in making the bride’s trousseau.

Karlgren

The song of a misunderstood official.

1. In the garden there is a peach tree, its fruits I have for viands*;
oh, the grief of the heart!, but I chant and sing;
those who do not know me say that I am an officer who is arrogant;
those people are right, what do you say?*
For the grief of the heart, who can know it?
Indeed they give it no thought.
* I live frugally in retirement.
* It is but reasonable that they should think so.

2. In the garden there is a jujube tree, its fruits I eat;
oh, the grief of the heart!, but I will ramble in the country;
those who do not know me say that I am an officer who is (without limit =) reckless;
those people are (etc. as in st. 1).

108〈魏風・汾沮洳〉

Legge

There in the oozy grounds of the Fen,
They gather the sorrel.
That officer,
Is elegant beyond measure.
He is elegant beyond measure.
But, perhaps, he is not what the superintendent of the ruler’s carriages ought to be.

There along the side of the Fen,
They gather the mulberry leaves.
That officer,
Is elegant as a flower.
He is elegant as a flower;
But, perhaps, he is not what the marshaller of the carriages ought to be.

There along the bend of the Fen,
They gather the ox-lips.
That officer,
Is elegant as a gem.
He is elegant as a gem;
But, perhaps, he is not what the superintendent of the ruler’s relations should be.

Waley

Oozy Ground by the Fen

There in the oozy ground by the Fen1
I was plucking the sorrel;
There came a gentleman
Lovely beyond compare,
Lovely beyond compare,
More beautiful than any that ride
With the duke in his coach.

There on a stretch by the Fen
I was plucking mulberry-leaves;
There came a gendeman
Lovely as the glint of jade,
Lovely as the glint of jade,
More splendid than any that attend
The duke in his coach.

There in the bend of the Fen
I was plucking water-plantain;
There came a gentleman
Lovely as jade,Lovely as jade,
More splendid than any that escort
The duke in his coach.

I. A tributary of the Yellow River in the southwestern corner of Shanxi.

109〈魏風・園有桃〉

Legge

Of the peach trees in the garden,
The fruit may be used as food.
My heart is grieved,
And I play and sing.
Those who do not know me,
Say I am a scholar venting his pride.
‘Those men are right;
What do you mean by your words?’
My heart is grieved;
Who knows [the cause of] it?
Who knows [the cause of] it?
[They know it not], because they will not think.

Of the jujube trees in the garden,
The fruit may be used as food.
My heart is grieved,
And I think I must travel about through the State.
Those who do not know me,
Say I am an officer going to the verge of license.
‘Those men are right;
What do you mean by your words?’
My heart is grieved;
Who knows [the cause of] it?
Who knows [the cause of] it?
[They do not know it], because they will not think.

Waley

In the Garden Is a Peach-Tree

In the garden is a peach-tree;1
But its fruits are food.
It is my heart’s sadness
That makes me chant and sing.
Those who do not know me
Say, “My good sir, you are impudent.
That man is perfectly right.
What is this that you are saying about him?”
My heart’s sorrow,
Which of them knows it?
Which of them knows it?
The truth is, they do not care.

In the garden is a prickly jujube;
But its fruits are good to eat.
It is my heart’s sadness
That makes me travel from land to land.
Those who do not know me
Say, “My good sir, you are a scamp.
That man is perfectly right.
What is this that you are saying about him?”
My heart’s sorrow,
Which of them knows it?
Which of them knows it?
The truth is, they do not care.

1. As it balances the prickly jujube, it cannot be the ordinary peach that is meant, but the yang-tao, “sheep’s peach,” which was thorny. See no. 148.

110〈魏風・陟岵〉

Legge

I ascend that tree-clad hill,
And look towards [the residence of] my father.
My father is saying, ‘Alas! my son, abroad on the public service,
Morning and night never rests.
May he be careful,
That he may come [back], and not remain there!’

I ascend that bare hill,
And look towards [the residence of] my mother.
My mother is saying, ‘Alas! my child, abroad on the public service,
Morning and night has no sleep.
May he be careful,
That he may come [back], and not leave his body there!’

I ascend that ridge,
And look towards [the residence of] my elder brother.
My brother is saying, ‘Alas! my younger brother, abroad on the public service,
Morning and night must consort with his comrades.
May he be careful,
That he may come back, and not die!’

Waley

Climb the Wooded Hill

I climb that wooded hill
And look toward where my father is.
My father is saying, “Alas, my son is on service;
Day and night he knows no rest.
Grant that he is being careful of himself,
So that he may come back and not be left behind!”

I climb that bare hill
And look toward where my mother is.
My mother is saying, “Alas, my young one is on service;
Day and night he gets no sleep.
Grant that he is being careful of himself,
So that he may come back, and not be cast away.”

I climb that ridge
And look toward where my elder brother is.
My brother is saying, “Alas, my young brother is on service;
Day and night he toils.
Grant that he is being careful of himself,
So that he may come back and not die.”

111〈魏風・十畝之間〉

Legge

Among their ten acres,
The mulberry-planters stand idly about.
‘Come,’ [says one to another], ‘I will go away with you.’

Beyond those ten acres,
The mulberry-planters move idly about.
‘Come,’ [says one to another], ‘I will go away with you.’

Waley

In the Ten-Acre Field

In the ten-acre field
A mulberry-picker stands idle,
Says: “If you’re going, I will come back with you.”

Beyond the ten-acre field
A mulberry-picker has strayed,
Says: “If you’re going, I will stroll with you.”

112〈魏風・伐檀〉

Legge

Kan-kan go his blows on the sandal trees,
And he places what he hews on the river’s bank,
Whose waters flow clear and rippling.
You sow not nor reap;
How do you get the produce of those three hundred farms?
You do not follow the chase;
How do we see the badgers hanging up in your court yards?
O that superior man!
He would not eat the bread of idleness!

Kan-kan go his blows on the wood for his spokes,
And he places it by the side of the river,
Whose waters flow clear and even.
You sow not nor reap;
How do you get your three millions of sheaves?
You do not follow the chase;
How do we see the three-year-olds hanging up in your court yards?
O that superior man!
He would not eat the bread of idleness!

Kan-kan go his blows on the wood for his wheels,
And he places it by the lip of the river,
Whose waters flow clear in rippling circles.
You sow not nor reap;
How do you get the paddy for your three hundred round binns?
You do not follow the chase;
How do we see the quails hanging in your court yards?
O that superior man!
He would not eat the bread of idleness!

Waley

Cutting Hardwood

Chop, chop they cut the hardwood
And lay it on the river bank
By the waters so clear and rippling.
If we did not sow, if we did not reap,
How should we get corn, three hundred stack-yards?
If you did not hunt, if you did not chase,
One would not see all those badgers hanging in your courtyard
No, indeed, that lord
Does not feed on the bread of idleness.

Chop, chop they cut cart-spokes
And lay them beside the river,
By the waters so clear and calm.
If we did not sow, if we did not reap,
How should we get corn, three hundred barns?
If you did not hunt, if you did not chase,
One would not see the king-deer hanging in your courtyard.
No, indeed, that lord
Does not eat the bread of idleness.

Chop, chop they cut wheels
And lay them on the lips of the river,
By the waters so clear and wimpling.
If we did not sow, if we did not reap,
How should we get corn, three hundred bins?
If you did not hunt, if you did not chase,
One would not see all those quails hanging in your courtyard.
No, indeed, that lord
Does not sup the sup of idleness.

113〈魏風・碩鼠〉

Legge

Large rats! Large rats!
Do not eat our millet.
Three years have we had to do with you,
And you have not been willing to show any regard for us.
We will leave you,
And go to that happy land.
Happy land! Happy land!
There shall we find our place.

Large rats! Large rats!
Do not eat our wheat.
Three years have we had to do with you,
And you have not been willing to show any kindness to us.
We will leave you,
And go to that happy State.
Happy State! Happy State!
There shall we find ourselves right.

Large rats! Large rats!
Do not eat our springing grain!
Three years have we had to do with you,
And you have not been willing to think of our toil.
We will leave you,
And go to those happy borders.
Happy borders! Happy borders!
Who will there make us always to groan?

Waley

Big Rat

Big rat, big rat,
Do not gobble our millet!
Three years we have slaved for you,
Yet you take no notice of us.
At last we are going to leave you
And go to that happy land;
Happy land, happy land,
Where we shall have our place.

Big rat, big rat,
Do not gobble our corn!
Three years we have slaved for you,
Yet you give us no credit.
At last we are going to leave you
And go to that happy kingdom;
Happy kingdom, happy kingdom,
Where we shall get our due.

Big rat, big rat,
Do not eat our rice-shoots!
Three years we have slaved for you.
Yet you did nothing to reward us.
At last we are going to leave you
And go to those happy borders;
Happy borders, happy borders
Where no sad songs are sung.