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The Book of Songs 詩經

小雅‧谷風之什‧大東 Minor odes of the kingdom - Gu Feng Zhi Shen - Da Dong

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Well loaded with millet were the dishes,
And long and curved were spoons of thorn-wood.
The way to Zhou was like a whetstone,
And straight as an arrow.
[So] the officers trod it,
And the common people looked on it.
When I look back and think of it,
My tears run down in streams.


In the States of the east, large and small,
The looms are empty.
Thin shoes of dolichos fibre,
Are made to serve to walk on the hoar-frost.
Slight and elegant gentlemen,
Walk along that road to Zhou.
Their going and coming,
Makes my heart ache.


Ye cold waters, issuing variously from the spring,
Do not soak the firewood I have cut.
Sorrowful I awake and sigh; -
Alas for us toiled people!
The firewood has been cut; -
Would that it were conveyed home!
Alas for us the toiled people!
Would that we could have rest!


The sons of the east,
Are only summoned [to service], without encouragement;
While the sons of the west,
Shine in splendid dresses.
The sons of boatmen,
Have furs of the bear and grisly bear.
The sons of the poorest families,
Form the officers in public employment.


If we present them with spirits,
They do not look on them as liquor.
If we give them long girdle-pendants with their stones,
They do not think them long enough.
There is the milky way in heaven,
Which looks down on us in light;
And the three stars together are the Weaving Sisters,
Passing in a day through seven stages [of the sky].


Although they go through their seven stages,
They complete no bright work for us.
Brilliant shine the Draught Oxen,
But they do not serve to draw our carts.
In the east there is Lucifer;
In the west there is Hesperus;
Long and curved is the Rabbit Net of the sky; -
But they only occupy their places.


In the south is the Sieve,
But it is of no use to sift.
In the north is the Ladle,
But it lades out no liquor.
In the south is the Sieve,
Idly showing its mouth.
In the north is the Ladle,
Raising its handle in the west.


English translation: James Legge

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