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Book I. The Odes of Chou and the South


The Kuan Chü; mainly allusive. Celebrating the virtue of the bride of King Wên, his quest for her, and welcoming her to his palace.

1Hark! from the islet in the stream the voice
Of the fish hawks that o’er their nest rejoice!
From them our thoughts to that young lady go,
Modest and virtuous, loth herself to show.
Where could be found, to share our prince's state
So fair, so virtuous, and so fit a mate?

2See how the duckweed's stalks, or short or long,
Sway left and right, as moves the current strong!
So hard it was for him the maid to find!
By day, by night, our prince with constant mind p. 2
Sought for her long, but all his search was vain.
Awake, asleep, he ever felt the pain
Of longing thought, as when on restless bed,
Tossing about, one turns his fevered head.

3Here long, there short, afloat the duckweed lies;
But caught at last, we seize the longed-for prize.
The maiden modest, virtuous, coy, is found;
Strike every lute, and joyous welcome sound.
Ours now, the duckweed from the stream we bear,
And cook to use with other viands rare.
He has the maiden, modest, virtuous, bright;
Let bells and drums proclaim our great delight.

Next: II. Ko T‘an