〈陳風〉

From the selection here, one would assume that city gates, which are featured in half of these poems, are somehow especially significant to the singers of Chen. In fact, the city wall and its gate are important throughout Zhou civilization, and in that liminal space things often happened and stories began. Chen, itself, was at the southern edge of the Zhou domain and would in the end be absorbed into the southern state of Chu, noted for its unique cultural makeup, especially its practice of shamanism. This culture was sometimes also associated with Chen, but there certainly is no sign of that here; these are simple, engaging love songs, which are the main fare of “The Airs of the States.”

136〈陳風・宛丘〉

Legge

How gay and dissipated you are,
There on the top of Wanqiu!
You are full of kindly affection indeed,
But you have nothing to make you looked up to!

How your blows on the drum resound,
At the foot of Wanqiu!
Be it winter, be it summer,
You are holding your egret’s feather!

How you beat your earthen vessel,
On the way to Wanqiu!
Be it winter, be it summer,
You are holding your egret-fan!

Waley

Hollow Mound

How you make free,
There on top of the Hollow Mound!
Truly, a man of feeling,
But very careless of repute.

Bang, he beats his drum
Under the Hollow Mound.
Be it winter, be it summer,
Always with the egret feathers in his hand.

Bang, he beats his earthen gong
Along the path to the Hollow Mound.
Be it winter, be it summer,
Always with the egret plumes in his hand.

137〈陳風・東門之枌〉

Legge

[There are] the white elms at the east gate.
And the oaks on Wanqiu;
The daughter of Zizhong,
Dances about under them.

A good morning having been chosen,
For the plain in the South,
She leaves twisting her hemp,
And dances to it through the market-place.

The morning being good for excursion,
They all proceed together.
‘I look on you as the flower of the thorny mallow;
You give me a stalk of the pepper plant.

Waley

Elms of the Eastern Gate

Elms of the Eastern Gate,
Oaks of the Hollow Mound—
The sons of the Zi-zhong1
Trip and sway beneath them.

It is a lucky morning, hurrah!
The Yuan2 girls from the southern side
Instead of twisting their hemp
In the market3 trip and sway.

It is a fine morning at last!
“Let us go off to join the throng.”
“You are lovely as the mallow.”
“Then give me a handful of pepper-seed!”

1. Zi-zhong is a man’s family name; compare the Zi-ju of no. 131. In the courtship and marriage poems men are usually referred to by typical names, which function like the Sepp or Hänsel of German traditional songs (or Iwantscho in Bulgarian, Jovan in Serbian traditional songs). These names, however, are not personal names but relationship or age terms; for example, Shu (uncle), nos. 77 and 78, Bai or Bo (elder), no. 62.
2. Yuan is a woman’s family name, like Jiang and Zi in no. 138, Ji in no. 139, Jiang, Yi, and Yong in no. 48, Ji in no. 225, etc. Such names are often preceded by age-terms, such as Meng (eldest) and Shu (third daughter), or by local names, e.g. Bao Si, “The Si-woman from the land of Pao”; or by the father’s title, e.g. (no. 225) Yin Ji, “The Ji whose father is a yin 尹 (i.e., an official or scribe).”
3. I very much doubt whether shi ye 市也 can mean “in the market.” I suspect that shi is corrupt.

138〈陳風・衡門〉

Legge

Beneath my door made of cross pieces of wood,
I can rest at my leisure;
By the wimpling stream from my fountain,
I can joy amid my hunger.

Why, in eating fish;
Must we have bream from the He?
Why, in taking a wife,
Must we have a Jiang of Qi?

Why, in eating fish;
Must we have carp from the He?
Why, in taking a wife,
Must we have a Zi of Song?

Waley

The Town-Gate

Down below the town-gate
It is easy to idle time away.
Where the spring flows by
It is easy to satisfy one’s desires.1

Must the fish one sups off
Needs be bream from the river?
Must the girl one weds
Needs be a Jiang2 from Qi?

Must the fish one sups on
Needs be carp from the river?
Must the girl one weds,
Needs be a Zi from Song?3

1. Not by drinking the water, as has usually been supposed, but by picking upone of the girls who haunted the fringes of the town.
2. Name of the clan to which the rulers of Qi belonged.
3. Clan name of the rulers of Song. Ed.

139〈陳風・東門之池〉

Legge

The moat at the east gate,
Is fit to steep hemp in.
That beautiful, virtuous, lady,
Can respond to you in songs.

The moat at the east gate,
Is fit to steep the boehmeria in.
That beautiful, virtuous, lady,
Can respond to you in discourse.

The moat at the east gate,
Is fit to steep the rope-rush in.
That beautiful, virtuous lady,
Can respond to you in conversation.

Waley

The Pond by the Eastern Gate

The pond by the Eastern Gate
Is good for steeping hemp.
That beautiful Shu Ji1
Is good at capping songs.

The pond by the Eastern Gate
Is good for steeping cloth-grass.
That beautiful Shu Ji
Is good at capping proverbs.

The pond by the Eastern Gate
Is good for steeping rushes.
That beautiful Shu Ji
Is good at capping stories.

I. Literally, “third daughter of the clan Ji.”

140〈陳風・東門之楊〉

Legge

On the willows at the east gate,
The leaves are very luxuria....
The evening was the time agreed on,
And the morning star is shining bright.

On the willows at the east gate,
The leaves are dense.
The evening was the time agreed on,
And the morning star is shining bright.

Waley

By the Willows of the Eastern Gate

By the willows of the Eastern Gate,
Whose leaves are so thick,
At dusk we were to meet;
And now the morning star is bright.
By the willows of the Eastern Gate,
Whose leaves are so close,
At dusk we were to meet;
And now the morning star is pale.

141〈陳風・墓門〉

Legge

At the gate to the tombs there are jujube trees;
They should be cut away with an axe.
That man is not good,
And the people of the State know it.
They know it, but he does not give over;
Long time has it been thus with him.

At the gate to the tombs there are plum trees;
And there are owls collecting on them.
That man is not good,
And I sing [this song] to admonish him.
I admonish him, but he will not regard me;
When he is overthrown, he will think of me.

Waley

Tomb Gate

By the Tomb Gate are thorn-trees;
With an axe they are felled.
Man, you are not good,
And the people of this country know it,
Know it, but do nothing to check you;
For very long it has been so.

By the Tomb Gate are plum-trees;
Owls roost upon them.
Man, you are not good;
I make this song to accuse you.
Accused you do not heed me;
After your fall1 you will think of me.

1. When punished by “all the gentlemen.” The metaphor is perhaps one of wrestling (Waley’s original note uses an incorrect cross-reference; but, as David Schaberg has suggested, it should be no. 35, stanza 5. Ed.) The owl is an evil bird. Owls roosting means evil deeds being “brought home” to the doer.

142〈陳風・防有鵲巢〉

Legge

On the embankment are magpies’ nests;
On the height grows the beautiful pea.
Who has been imposing on the object of my admiration?
– My heart is full of sorrow.

The middle path of the temple is covered with its tiles;
On the height is the beautiful medallion plant.
Who has been imposing on the object of my admiration?
– My heart is full of trouble.

Waley

The magpie’s nest, so cleverly contrived, and the other many-colored things in the following poem, are symbols of specious invention.

On the Dike There Is a Magpie’s Nest

On the dike there is a magpie’s nest,
On the bank grows the sweet vetch.
Who has lied to my lovely one,
And made my heart so sore?

The middle-path has patterned tiles,
On the bank grows the rainbow plant.
Who has lied to my lovely one,
And made my heart so sad?

143〈陳風・月出〉

Legge

The moon comes forth in her brightness;
How lovely is that beautiful lady!
O to have my deep longings for her relieved!
How anxious is my toiled heart!

The moon comes forth in her splendour;
How attractive is that beautiful lady!
O to have my anxieties about her relieved!
How agitated is my toiled heart!

The moon comes forth and shines;
How brilliant is that beautiful lady!
O to have the chains of my mind relaxed!
How miserable is my toiled heart!

Waley

Moon Rising

A moon rising white
Is the beauty of my lovely one.
Ah, the tenderness, the grace!
Heart’s pain consumes me.

A moon rising bright
Is the fairness of my lovely one.
Ah, the gentle softness!
Heart’s pain wounds me.

A moon rising in splendor
Is the beauty of my lovely one.
Ah, the delicate yielding!
Heart’s pain torments me.

144〈陳風・株林〉

Legge

What does he in Zhulin?
He is going after Xia’nan.
He is not going to Zhulin;
He is going after Xia’nan.

‘Yoke for me my team of horses;
I will rest in the country about Zhu.
I will drive my team of colts,
And breakfast at Zhu.’

Waley

In Zhu-lin

“How do you manage to be in Zhu-lin?”
“We are the escort of Xia Nan.
He has come to Zhu-lin;
We are the escort of Xia Nan.

We drove our four horses;
We did not pause till the outskirts of Zhu.
We drove our four colts,
And were in time for breakfast at Zhu.”

Xia Nan was a grandee of the Chen state, in east-central Henan; his castle was at Zhu-lin, not far from the Chen capital. The satirical intention which the commentators attribute to the song does not fit in with its wording. In any case the date is about 600 BC, or somewhat earlier.

The fact that the Zuo-zhuan chronicle (Zhao gong, twenty-third year) interprets the song in the same way as Mao (the earliest commentator) proves nothing. For the Zuo zhuan, in its existing state, is full of Confucian lore drawn from just the same sources as the traditional Confucian commentaries. What matters is not whether the chronicle supports an interpretation, but whether that interpretation is compatible with the wording of the text in question.

145〈陳風・澤陂〉

Legge

By the shores of that marsh,
There are rushes and lotus plants.
There is the beautiful lady;
I am tortured for her, but what avails it?
Waking or sleeping, I do nothing;
From my eyes and nose the water streams.

By the shores of that marsh,
There are rushes and the valerian.
There is the beautiful lady;
Tall and large, and elegant.
Waking or sleeping, I do nothing;
My inmost heart is full of grief.

By the shores of that marsh,
There are rushes and lotus flowers.
There is the beautiful lady;
Tall and large, and majestic.
Waking or sleeping, I do nothing;
On my side, on my back, with my face on the pillow, I lie.

Waley

Swamp’s Shore

By that swamp’s shore
Grow reeds and lotus.
There is a man so fair—
Oh, how can I cure my wound?
Day and night I can do nothing;
As a flood my tears flow.

By that swamp’s shore
Grow reeds and scented herbs.
There is a man so fair—
Well-made, big, and strong.
Day and night I can do nothing;
For my heart is full of woe.

By that swamp’s shore
Grow reeds and lotus-flowers.
There is a man so fair—
Well-made, big, and stern.
Day and night I can do nothing;
Face on pillow I toss and turn.