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The Book of Songs 詩經

小雅‧節南山之什‧小宛 Minor odes of the kingdom - Jie Nan Shan Zhi Shen - Xiao Wan

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Small is the cooing dove,
But it flies aloft up to heaven.
My heart is wounded with sorrow,
And I think of our forefathers.
When the dawn is breaking, and I cannot sleep,
The thoughts in my breast are of our parents.


Men who are grave and wise,
Though they drink, are mild and masters of themselves;
But those who are benighted and ignorant,
Are devoted to drink, and more so daily.
Be careful, each of you, of your deportment; -
What Heaven confers, [when once lost], is not regained.


In the midst of the plain there is pulse,
And the common people gather it.
The mulberry insect has young ones,
And the sphex carries them away.
Teach and train your sons,
And they will become good as you are.


Look at the wagtail,
Flying, and at the same time twittering.
My days are advancing;
Your months are going on.
Rising early and going to sleep late,
Do not disgrace those who gave you birth.


The greenbeaks come and go,
Pecking up grain about the stack-yard.
Alas for the distressed and the solitary,
Deemed fit inmates for the prisons!
With a handful of grain I go out and divine,
How I may be able to become good.


We must be mild, and humble,
As if we were perched on trees.
We must be anxious and careful,
As if we were on the brink of a valley.
We must be apprehensive and cautious,
As if we were treading upon thin ice.



English translation: James Legge

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