The Earliest Chinese Poem Collection: Odes

28 Feb

Chinese language has a very long history of more than 3000 years and still is used today. Poem “诗经(shī jīng) epitomized the thought of ancient Chinese.” Did you learn or try to speak it? Try it now! Find more Chinese Poetry.

Guān guān jū jiū, zài hé zhī zhōu;

Yǎotiǎo shūnǚ, jūnzǐ hǎo qiú;

Guan! Guan! Cry the fish hawks on sandbars in the river; a gentleman is wooing a fair lady he loves. “诗经 shī jīng”, translated into Book of Songs, or the Collection of Odes, is the earliest existing collection of poems and songs in China. It consists of 305 poems and songs written from 10th to 7th century BC, covers a wide range of topics from political views, to love songs. Using vivid words and sentences, the songs and poems described the scene of wars or love. The lyrics shown in the beginning of the article, is about a man wooing for the lady he fell in love with. In another poem, a wife is singing the anticipation on the return of her husband through “Carriages passed by, but you are on none of them”. The returning solders chant the loss of his good years by “when we set out, the willows were drooping with spring; when we return, there is only snow”.

There is nothing more powerful than revealing the true feelings people live their life and in the society. Through the ancient poems, we see the same cycle of social hates and loves: the pursuit of pretty women, the worries and miss a wife has to her husband in expedition, the ruthless nature of war, and the longing for peace. Generation after generation, it never changes. Some of the suffering, however, is still on.


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