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Exemplarious translation of The Book of Songs

Examples of lyrics or songs from each of the four sections. The first song of the Shijing is probably the most famous and most commented poem of old China. The Great and Small Preface to this song are translated too, as well as the begin of the Tang time Wujing zhengyi 五经正义 commentary.

• 大序
风,风也,教也。风以动之,教以化之。诗者,志之所之也。在心为志。发言为诗。情动于中,而形于言。 言之不足,故嗟叹。嗟叹之不足,故永歌之。永歌之不足知,手之,舞之,足之,蹈之也。情发于声,声成文,谓之音。 治世之音安以乐,其政和。乱世之音怨以怒,其政乖。亡国之音哀以思,其民困。故正得失,动天地,感鬼神,莫近于诗。先王以是经夫妇,成孝敬,厚人伦,美教 化,移风俗。
故诗有六义晏:一曰风,二曰赋,三曰比,四曰兴,五曰雅,六曰颂。 上以风化下,下以风刺上。主文而谲谏,言之者无罪,闻之者足以戒,故曰风。至于王道衰,礼义废,政教失,国异政,家殊俗,而变风,变雅作矣。
国史明乎得失之迹,伤人伦之废,哀刑政之苛,咏吟情性,以风其上。达于事变,而怀其旧俗者也。故变风发乎情, 止乎礼义。发乎情,民之性也。止乎礼义,先王之泽也。是以一国之事,系一人之本,谓之风。言天下之事,形四方之风,谓之雅。
是谓四始,诗之至也。然则《关雎》、《麟趾》之化,王者之风。故系之周公。《南》言,化自北而南也。《鹊巢》、《驺虞》之德,诸侯之风也。 先王之所以教,故系之召公。周南、召南,正始之道,王化之基。
The Great Preface
“Air” means “wind” or “educating”. The airs move people and make them better. Songs are, where the mind is going to. In the heart, it is called “mind”, spoken out, it is called “song”. The motion is moved in the heart and takes shape in words; if words are not sufficent, sighing can be better; if sighing is not sufficient, songs can be better; if songs are still not sufficient, motions can be expressed with hands, by dancing, with feet, by springing. Motions are expressed by voice; if voice forms words, it is called tone. The tone regulating the world, pacifies by music, its rule is harmonious. The tone disturbing the world, heates the anger, its rule is obstinate. The tone destroying a country is sad in thoughts, its people is in difficulties. Correct behaviour receives the lost, it moves heaven and earth, it makes sympathetic all ghosts and deities. To acheive this, nothing is better than songs. The old kings employed songs to have guidelines for the matrimony, to complete filialty and reverence, to enforce human relationships, to beautify cultivation, and to make better people’s customs.
There are six different kinds of songs: airs (feng), rhapsodies (fu), comparisons (bi), moods (xing), odes (ya) and hymns (song). The ruling people use the airs to ameliorate their subjects, the subjects use the airs to criticize the ruling. They rely on words to admonish with some small hints. The speakers thus are not to be blamed, and the auditors are enabled to change their behaviour. This is why these songs are called “wind”. When the way of the kings has become weak, when rites and etiquette are thrown away, when politics and education missed their target, when the state has altered its government, when the families have given up their good customs, this is, when airs and odes have to change and make things better.
The scribes of the states enlighten cases of lost virtue, of damaging human relationships, of giving up penal law and government; they chant and sing of motions and good character to educate the rulers. If it has come so far that things alter, people already weep for their old rules and customs. Therefore, the changing airs begin in the motions and reach to the rites and etiquette. Starting with motions means, that they come from the people. Reaching to rites and etiquette means, that the airs are the reflected glory of the old kings. If the affairs of one state are bound to every single person, songs are called “airs”, and if all affairs under heaven are built up from the airs of all states, songs are called “odes”.
“Ode” means, “to rectify”. It gives the reason why moods in a ruler’s government is thrown away. There are great and small matters in government, and adequately we find Maior and Minor Odes. “Hymn” means, to beautify the description of a flourishing virtue. It declares the success of a virtuous government to the deities.
These are the four beginnings, and where songs have its aim. The educational target of the “Guan the ospreys cry” and “Unicorn’s hoofs” airs is the king, and they are connected to the duke of Zhou. “South” means, that education goes from north to south. The airs “Magpie’s nest” and “The zouyu tiger” are written for the feudal lords and were used by the former kings for educational purposes. They are connected to the Duke of Shao. The airs of the chapters “South of Zhou” and “South of Shao” are the way of the correct begin, they are the base for an ideal government.
The Airs of the States, South of Zhou, The ospreys cry
“Fair, fair,” cry the ospreys on the island in the river. Lovely is this noble lady, fit bride for our lord.
In patches grows the water mallow; to left and right one must seek it. Shy was this noble lady; day and night he sought her.
Sought her and could not get her; day and night he grieved. Long thoughts, oh, long unhappy thoughts, now on his back, now tossing on to his side.
In patches grows the water mallow; to left and right one must gather it. Shy is this noble lady; with great zither and little we hearten her.
In patches grows the water mallow; to left and right one must choose it. Shy is this noble lady; with bells and drums we will gladden her.
• 关雎小序
(Small Preface 1st part:) The song ‘”Fair’, cry the ospreys”, expresses the virtue of the ruler’s consort. It is the first of the airs. The airs are like a wind to blowing over the earth and serve to rectify the relationship between man and woman. They can be employed for all people in the villages and in all states.
(Small Preface 2nd part:) The music of the “Ospreys” air says, that a noble lady has to be the consort of a noble man. Love comes up because of growing worthiness, not because of sensual pleasures. Her lovelyness causes the noble man’s pity, he thinks of her virtual abilites, and he does not hurt her good heart. This is the meaning of the first air.
• 五经正义
兴也。「关关」,和声也。雎鸠,王雎也。鸟挚而有别。水中可居者曰「洲」。 后妃说(悦)乐君子之德。无不和谐,又不淫其色。慎固幽深,若关雎之有别焉。然后可以风化天下。夫妇有别,则父子亲。父子亲,则君臣敬。君臣敬,则朝廷 正。朝廷正,则王化成。《笺》云:「挚之言,至也。谓王雎之鸟,雌雄情意至。然而有别。」案:兴,是譬喻之名。意有不尽。故提曰「兴」。他皆放此。…
The Real Meaning of the Five Classics
An air with a mood-laden initiation. Guanguan (“Fair, fair”) is an expression of harmony (guan also means “relationship”). The osprey is a symbol for the King. The birds have cordial feelings to each other, but they follow a different way. Zhou means “islet”. The consort should be glad about a noble man’s virtue; nothing between them shall not be in harmony, and they should not indulge in sensual pleasures. Their love shall be cautious, steadfast, deep and not outgoing, just like the different ways of the (male and female) osprey in this air. If the noble ruler and his consort behave like this, the world can be made better. If man and woman live according to their different ways, father and son have their different position in relationship, ruler and subject respect each other, the court behaves in a correct way, and only then, the exemplarious virtue of the king is complete. (Zheng Xuan’s) jian commentary says: “‘Cordial’ means, that they are coming to each other, concretely spoken: although the feelings of male and female osprey are coming together, they follow a different way.” Note: Mood-laden initiation (xing) is a metaphor with many different meanings. Fitting to this air, the title “mood-laden initiation” is appropriate. Everything else has its origin in this air.
The Minor Odes, 1st Decade, The deer cry
Hoo, hoo, cry the deer nibbling the black southernwood in the fields. I have a lucky guest. Let me play my zither, blow my reed-organ.
Blow my reed-organ, trill their tongues, take up the baskets of offerings. Here is a man that loves me and will teach me the ways of Zhou.
Hoo, hoo, cry the deer nibbling the white southernwood of the fields. I have a lucky guest, whose fair fame is very bright.
He sees to it that the common people do not waver, of all gentlemen he is the pattern and example. I have good wine; let my lucky guest now feast and play.
Hoo, hoo, cry the deer nibbling the wild garlic of the fields. I have a lucky guest. I play my zithers, small and big.
Play my zithers, small and big. Let us make music together, let us be merry, for I have good wine to comfort and delight the heart of a lucky guest.
The Major Odes, 1st Decade, Footsteps here below
Zhou it is that continues the footsteps here below. From generation to generation it has had wise kings. Three rulers are in Heaven (Wen, Wu and Cheng), and the king (Kang) is their counterpart in his capital.
He is their counterpart in his capital, the power of generations he has matched; long has he been mated to Heaven’s command and fulfilled what is entrusted to a king.
Has fulfilled what is entrusted to a king, a model to all on earth below; forever pious toward the dead, a very pattern of piety.
Loved is this One Man, meeting only with docile powers; forever pious toward the dead, gloriously continuing their tasks.
Yes, gloriously he steps forward continuing in the footsteps of his ancestors. “For myriads of years may you receive Heaven’s blessing!
Receive Heaven’s blessing!” So from all sides they come to wish him well. “For myriads of years may your luck never fail!”
Hymns, Zhou Hymns, 1st Decade, The hallowed temple
Solemn is the hallowed temple, awed and silent the helpers, well purified the many knights that handle their sacred task.
There has been an answer in Heaven; swiftly they flit through the temple, very bright, very glorious, showing no distaste toward men.
未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Exemplarious translation of The Book of Songs
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