Back to collection

The Book of Songs 詩經

小雅‧甫田之什‧賓之初筵 Minor odes of the kingdom - Fu Tian Zhi Shen - Bao Zhi Chu Yan

Click on any word to see more details.



When the guests first approach the mats,
They take their places on the left and the right in an orderly manner.
The dishes of bamboo and wood are arranged in rows,
With the sauces and kernels displayed in them.
The spirits are mild and good,
And they drink, all equally reverent.
The bells and drums are properly arranged;
And they raise their pledge-cups with order and ease.
[Then] the great target is set up;
The bows and arrows are made ready for the shooting;
The archers are matched in classes.
' Show your skill in shooting, ' [it is said].
' I shall hit that mark, ' [it is responded],
'And pray you to drink the cup. '



The dancers move with their flutes to the notes of the organ and drum,
While all the instruments perform in harmony.
All this is done to please the meritorious ancestors,
Along with the observance of all ceremonies.
When all the ceremonies have been performed,
Grandly and fully,
'We confer on you great blessings, ' [says the representative of the dead],
'And may your descendants [also] be happy! '
They are happy and delighted,
And each of them exerts his ability.
A guest draws the spirits,
An attendant enters again, with a cup,
And fills it, - the cup of rest.
Thus are performed your seasonal ceremonies.


When the guests first approach the mats,
All harmonies are they and reverent.
Before they have drunk too much,
Their deportment is carefully observant of propriety;
But when they have drunk too much,
Their deportment becomes light and frivolous:
They leave their seats, and go elsewhere,
They keep dancing and capering.
Before they have drunk too much,
Their deportment is cautious and grave:
But when they have drunk too much,
Their deportment becomes indecent and rude:
Thus when they have too mcuh,
They lose all sense of orderliness.


When the guests have drunk too much,
They shout out and brawl.
They disorder the dishes;
They keep dancing in a fantastic manner.
Thus when they have drunk too much,
They become insensible of their errors.
With their caps on one side, and like to fall off,
They keep dancing and will not stop.
If, when they have drunk too much, they went out,
Both they [and their host] would be happy;
But remaining after they are drunk,
Is what is called doing injury to virtue.
Drinking is a good institution,
Only when there is good deportment in it.



On every occasion of drinking,
Some get drunk, and some do not.
An inspector is appointed,
With a recorder to assist him.
But those drunkards, in their vileness,
Are shamed of those who do not get drunk.
These have no opportunity to speak,
And prevent the others from proceeding to such great abandonment.
[They might say], ' Do not speak what you ought not to speak;
Do not say what you have no occasion to say,
If you speak, drunk as you are,
We will make you produce a ram without horns.
With three cups you lose your memories; -
How dare you go on to more? '


English translation: James Legge

Dictionary cache status: not loaded

Glossary and Other Vocabulary