〈秦風〉

The state of Qin rose in the far west to challenge and finally defeat all other feudal states, in the end replacing the Zhou royal house with( hina’s first imperial dynasty (221-06 BC), ruled by the infamous Qin Shi-huang (First Emperor of the Qin). Yet these poems come from a time when Qin was a relatively minor player in feudal politics. In legend and official history the people of Qin are described as descendants of the “barbarian” tribes of the west, which is said to account for their martial prowess and able horsemanship. Whethe by cultural legacy or editorial hindsight, many of the poems in the set do refer to that association. The famous poem “The Oriole” (131) depicts a people fierce even in death.

126〈秦風・車鄰〉

Legge

He has many carriages, giving forth their Lin-Lin;
He has horses with their white foreheads.
Before we can see our prince,
We must get the services of eunuch.

On the hill-sides are varnish trees;
In the low wet grounds are chestnuts.
When we have seen our prince,
We sit together with him, and they play on their lutes.
If now we do not take our joy,
The time will pass till we are octogenarians.

On the hill-sides are mulberry trees;
In the low wet grounds are willows.
When we have seen our prince,
We sit together with him, and they play on their organs.
If now we do not take our joy,
The time will pass till we are no more.

Waley

Coach-Wheels Crunch

The coach-wheels crunch;
There is one horse with a white forehead.
I have not yet seen my lord;
I am waiting till they send for me.

On the hillside grows the lacquer-tree,
On the lowlands the chestnut-tree.
Now I have seen my lord;
He sits opposite me, playing his zither:
“If today we are not merry,
In time to come we shall be too old.”

On the hillside grows the mulberry-tree,
On the lowlands the willow.
Now I have seen my lord;
He sits opposite me, playing his reed-organ:
“If today we are not merry,
In time to come we shall be gone.”

127〈秦風・駟驖〉

Legge

His four iron-black horses are in very fine condition;
The six reins are in the hand [of the charioteer].
The ruler’s favourites,
Follow him to the chase.

The male animals of the season are made to present themselves,
The males in season, of very large size.
The ruler says, ‘To the left of them;’
Then he lets go his arrows and hits.

He rambles in the northern park;
His four horses display their training.
Light carriages, with bells at the horses’ bits,
Convey the long and short-mouthed dogs.

Waley

Team of Grays

His team of grays pull well;
The six reins in his hand
The duke’s well-loved son
Follows his father to the hunt.

Lusty that old stag,
That stag so tall.
The duke says: “On your left!”
He lets fly, and makes his hit.

They hold procession through the northern park,
Those teams so well trained,
The light carts, bells at bridle;
Greyhound, bloodhound inside.

128〈秦風・小戎〉

Legge

[There is] his short war carriage;
With the ridge-like end of its pole, elegantly bound in five places;
With its slip rings and side straps,
And the traces attached by gilt rings to the masked transverse;
With its beautiful mat of tiger’s skin, and its long naves;
With its piebalds, and horses with white left feet.
When I think of my husband [thus],
Looking bland and soft as a piece of jade;
Living there in his blank house;
It sends confusion into all the corners of my heart.

His four horses are in very fine condition,
And the six reins are in the hand [of the charioteer].
Piebald, and bay with black mane, are the insides;
Yellow with black mouth, and black, are the outsides;
Side by side are placed the dragon-figured shields;
Gilt are the buckles for the inner reins.
I think of my husband [thus],
Looking so mild in the cities there.
What time can be fixed for his return?
Oh! how I think of him!

His mail-covered team moves in great harmony;
There are the trident spears with their gilt ends;
And the beautiful feather-figured shield;
With the tiger-skin bow-case, and the carved metal ornaments on its front.
The two bows are placed in the case,
Bound with string to their bamboo frames.
I think of my husband,
When I lie down and rise up.
Tranquil and serene is the good man,
With his virtuous fame spread far and near.

Waley

Small War-Chariot

The small war-chariot with its shallow body,
The upturned chariot-pole, with its five bands,
The slip rings,1 the flank-checks,2
The traces stowed away in their silvered case.
The patterned mat, the long naves,
Drawn by our piebalds, our whitefoots.
To think of my lord,
Gracious as jade,
In his plank hut
Brings turmoil to every corner of my heart.

The four steeds so strong,
The six reins in his hand;
The piebald and the bay with black mane are inside,
The black-mouthed brown and the deep-black horse are outside.
The dragon shields are held touching,
Silvered too the buckle straps.3

My thoughts are of my lord
So gracious at home in the town.
When can I expect him?
How can I endure thus to think of him?

The team lightly caparisoned, perfectly trained,
The trident spear with silvered butt,
The shield many-colored with its coating of feathers,The tiger-skin quiver with its chiseled collar,
The two bows stretched one against the other
In the bamboo-frame lashed with rattan.
My thoughts are of my lord
Whether I sleep or wake. Gentle is my good man,
Flawless is his fair name.

1. There is not the slightest evidence that xu 續 can mean a ring. My translation of the poem is, however, merely provisional. It is very doubtful whether wu 鋈 means silver-inlay (cf. J. G. Andersson in Yin and Chou Researches: the Goldsmith in Ancient China, p. 2); or indeed has anything to do with silver at all. It was about their own techniques that the Han commentators knew, and not about those of a previous period.
2 . The results of recent excavation are likely, when fully published, to give us a much clearer notion of the Zhou war-chariot. I think the “flank-checks” were spiked balls, hung on the girth of the inner horse to prevent the outer horse getting too close to it. Something similar was used by the Assyrians. I do not doubt that the word usually translated “traces” means ropes or reins used to drag a chariot by hand, when the horses could not get it through muddy or difficult places. “Traces,” in our sense of the word, seldom occur in antiquity.
3. Actually, the strap buckles were silvered. The inversion is for the sake of rhyme.

129〈秦風・蒹葭〉

Legge

The reeds and rushes are deeply green,
And the white dew is turned into hoarfrost.
The man of whom I think,
Is somewhere about the water.
I go up the stream in quest of him,
But the way is difficult and long.
I go down the stream in quest of him,
And lo! he is right in the midst of the water.

The reeds and rushes are luxuriant,
And the white dew is not yet dry.
The man of whom I think,
Is on the margin of the water.
I go up the stream in quest of him,
But the way is difficult and steep.
I go down the stream in quest of him,
And lo! he is on the islet in the midst of the water.

The reeds and rushes are abundant,
And the white dew is not yet ceased.
The man of whom I think,
Is on the bank of the river.
I go up the stream in quest of him,
But the way is difficult and turns to the right.
I go down the stream in quest of him,
And lo! he is on the island in the midst of the water.

Waley

Rush Leaves

Thick grow the rush leaves;I luir
Their white dew turns to frost.
He whom I love
Must be somewhere along this stream.
I went up the river to look for him,
But the way was difficult and long.
I went down the stream to look for him,
And there in mid-water
Sure enough, it’s he!

Close grow the rush leaves,
Their white dew not yet dry.
He whom I love
Is at the water’s side.
Upstream I sought him;
But the way was difficult and steep.
Downstream I sought him,
And away in mid-water
There on a ledge, that’s he!

Very fresh are the rush leaves;
The white dew still falls.

He whom I love
Is at the water’s edge.
Upstream I followed him;
But the way was hard and long.
Downstream I followed him,
And away in mid-water
There on the shoals is he!

Karlgren

A girl is out in the open, hoping for a love-meeting with her beau, whom she dare not even mention by name; but he eludes her:

1. The reeds and rushes are very green, the white dew becomes hoar-frost; he whom I call »that man» is somewhere near the stream; I go up the stream after him, the road is difficult and long; I go down the stream after him, but he eludes me (by going) in the midst of the stream.

2. The reeds and rushes are luxuriant, the white dew has not yet dried up; he whom I call »that man» is on the bank of the stream; I go up the stream after him, the road is difficult and steep; I go down the stream after him, but he eludes me (by going) to an islet in the stream.

3. The reeds and rushes are full of colour; the white dew has not ceased; he whom I call »that man» is on the bank of the river; I go up the stream after him, the road is difficult and turns to the right; I go down the stream after him, but he eludes me (by going) to an island in the stream.

130〈秦風・終南〉

Legge

What are there on Zhongnan?
There are white firs and plum trees.
Our prince has arrived at it,
Wearing an embroidered robe over his fox-fur,
And with his countenance rouged as with vermilion.
May he prove a ruler indeed!

What are there on Zhongnan?
There are nooks and open glades.
Our prince has arrived at it,
With the symbol of distinction embroidered on his lower garment,
And the gems at his girdle emitting their thinking.
May long life and an endless name be his?

Waley

Mount Zhong-nan

On Mount Zhong-nan1 what is there?
There are peach-trees, plum-trees.
My lord has come
In damask coat, in fox furs,
His face rosy as though rouged with cinnabar.
There is a lord for you indeed!

On Mount Zhong-nan what is there?
The boxthorn, the wild plum-tree.
My lord has come
In brocaded coat, embroidered skirt,
The jades at his girdle tinkling.
Long may he live, long be remembered!

1. South of Xi’an, Shaanxi.

131〈秦風・黃鳥〉

Legge

They flit about, the yellow birds,
And rest upon the jujube trees.
Who followed duke Mu [to the grave]?
Ziche Yansi.
And this Yansi,
Was a man above a hundred.
When he came to the grave,
He looked terrified and trembled.
Thou azure Heaven there!
Thou art destroying our good men.
Could he have been redeemed,
We should have given a hundred lives for him.

They flit about, the yellow birds,
And rest upon the mulberry trees.
Who followed duke Mu [to the grave]?
Ziche Zhongheng.
And this Zhongheng,
Was a match for a hundred.
When he came to the grave,
He looked terrified and trembled.
Thou azure Heaven there!
Thou art destroying our good men.
Could he have been redeemed,
We should have given a hundred lives for him.

They flit about, the yellow birds,
And rest upon the thorn trees.
Who followed duke Mu [to the grave]?
Ziche Qianhu.
And this Ziche Qianhu,
Could withstand a hundred men.
When he came to the grave,
He looked terrified and trembled.
Thou azure Heaven there!
Thou art destroying our good men.
Could he have been redeemed,
We should have given a hundred lives for him.

Waley

The Oriole

“Kio” sings the oriole
As it lights on the thorn-bush.
Who went with Duke Mu to the grave?
Yan-xi of the clan Zi-ju.
Now this Yan-xi
Was the pick of all our men;
But as he drew near the tomb-hole
His limbs shook with dread.
That blue one, Heaven,
Takes all our good men.
Could we but ransom him
There are a hundred would give their lives.

“Kio” sings the oriole
As it lights on the mulberry-tree.
Who went with Duke Mu to the grave?
Zhong-hang of the clan Zi-ju.
Now this Zhong-hang
Was the sturdiest of all our men;
But as he drew near the tomb-hole
His limbs shook with dread.
That blue one, Heaven,
Takes all our good men.
Could we but ransom him
There are a hundred would give their lives.

“Kio” sings the oriole
As it lights on the brambles.
Who went with Duke Mu to the grave?
Qian-hu of the clan Zi-ju.
Now this Qian-hu
Was the strongest of all our men.
But as he drew near the tomb-hole
His limbs shook with dread.
That blue one, Heaven,
Takes all our good men.
Could we but ransom him
There are a hundred would give their lives.

Duke Mu of Qin died in 621 BC, so that the exact date of No. 131 is known. (Of course, the composition of the poem could have occurred later. Ed.) The extent to which kings were followed into the grave by their servitors differed very much at various times and in various localities. The practice existed on a grand scale during the dynasty which preceded Zhou. It was disapproved of by the Confucians, but revived by the Qin when they conquered all China (middle of the third century BC). So far as I know it was never revived after the rise of the Han in 206 BC.

132〈秦風・晨風〉

Legge

Swift flies the falcon,
To the thick-wooded forest in the north.
While I do not see my husband,
My heart cannot forget its grief.
How is it, how is it,
That he forgets me so very much?

On the mountain are the bushy oaks;
In the low wet grounds are six elms.
While I do not see my husband,
My sad heart has no joy.
How is it, how is it,
That he forgets me so very much?

On the mountain are the bushy sparrow-plums;
In the low wet grounds are the high, wild pear trees.
While I do not see my husband,
My heart is as if intoxicated with grief.
How is it, how is it,
That he forgets me so very much?

Waley

Falcon

Swoop flies that falcon;
Dense that northern wood.
Not yet have I seen my lord;
Sore grieves my heart.
What will it be like, what like?
I am sure many will forget me.

On the hill is a clump of oaks
And in the lowlands, the piebald-tree.
Not yet have I seen my lord;
My grief I cannot cure.
What will it be like, what like?
I am sure many will forget me.

On the hill is a clump of plum-trees;
And on the lowlands, planted pear-trees.
Not yet have I seen my lord;
With grief I am dazed.
What will it be like, what like?
I am sure many will forget me.

The theme of the comparisons is that everything in nature goes its wonted way and is in its proper place; but I am embarking on a new, unimaginable existence.

133〈秦風・無衣〉

Legge

How shall it be said that you have no clothes?
I will share my long robes with you.
The king is raising his forces;
I will prepare my lance and spear,
And will be your comrade.

How shall it be said that you have no clothes?
I will share my under clothes with you.
The king is raising his forces;
I will prepare my spear and lance,
And will take the field with you.

How shall it be said that you have no clothes?
I will share my lower garments with you.
The king is raising his forces;
I will prepare my buffcoat and sharp weapons,
And will march along with you.

Waley

No Wraps?

How can you plead that you have no wraps?
I will share my rug with you.
The king is raising an army;
I have made ready both spear and axe;
You shall share them with me as my comrade.

How can you plead that you have no wraps?
I will share my under-robe with you.
The king is raising an army,
I have made ready both spear and halberd;
You shall share them with me when we start.

How can you plead that you have no wraps?
I will share my skirt1 with you.
The king is raising an army,
I have made ready both armor and arms;
You shall share them with me on the march.

1. As a rug at night.

134〈秦風・渭陽〉

Legge

I escorted my mother’s nephew,
To the north of the Wei,
What did I present to him?
Four bay horses for his carriage of state.

I escorted my mother’s nephew,
Long, long did I think of him.
What did I present to him?
A precious jasper, and gems for his girdle-pendant.

Waley

North of the Wei

I escorted my mother’s brother
As far as the north of the Wei.
What present did I give him?
A big chariot and a team of bays.
I escorted my mother’s brother;
Far my thoughts followed him.
What present did I give him?
A lovely ghost-stone,1 a girdle-pendant of jade.

1. So the word is written; but the “ghost” element may merely be phonetic.

135〈秦風・權輿〉

Legge

He assigned us a house large and spacious;
But now at every meal there is nothing left.
Alas that he could not continue as he began!

He assigned us at every meal four dishes of grain;
But now at every meal we do not get our fill.
Alas that he could not continue as he began!

Waley

As We Sprouted

Oh, what has become of us?
Those big dish-stands that towered so high!
To-day, even when we get food, there is none to spare.
Alas and alack!
We have not grown as we sprouted.

Oh, what has become of us?
Four dishes at every meal!
To-day, even when we get food, there is never enough.
Alas and alack!
We have not grown as we sprouted.