Back to collection

The Book of Songs 詩經

小雅‧節南山之什‧巧言 Minor odes of the kingdom - Jie Nan Shan Zhi Shen - Qiao Yan

Click on any word to see more details.



O vast and distant Heaven,
Who art called our parent,
That without crime or offence,
I should suffer from disorders thus great!
The terrors of great Heaven are excessive,
But indeed I have committed no crime.
[The terrors of] great Heaven are very excessive,
But indeed I have committed no offence.


Disorder then comes to the birth,
When the first untruth is received.
Its further increase,
Is from our sovereign's believing the slanderers.
If he were to be angry [with them],
The disorder would probably quickly be abated;
If he were to show his joy [in the good],
The disorder would probably quickly cease.


Our sovereign makes frequent covenants,
And the disorders are thereby increased.
He believes the scoundrels,
And the disorders thereby grow into oppression.
Their words are very sweet,
And the disorders thereby advance.
They do not discharge their duties,
But only create distress to the king.


Very grand is the ancestral temple; -
A true sovereign made it.
Wisely arranged are the great plans; -
Sages determined them.
What other men have in their minds,
I can measure by reflection.
Swiftly runs the crafty hare,
But it is caught by the hound.


Trees of soft wood, easily wrought,
Are planted by wise men.
The words of way-farers that come and go,
Can be discriminated by the mind.
Their easy and grand words,
[Only] issue from their mouths.
Their artful words, like organ-tongues,
Show how unblushing are their faces.


Who are they?
They [are like men who] dwell on the banks of the river;
And they have neither strenghth nor courage,
While yet they rear the steps of disorder!
With legs ulcerated and swollen,
What courage can you have?
You form plans great and many,
But your followers about you are few.


English translation: James Legge

Dictionary cache status: not loaded

Glossary and Other Vocabulary