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The Book of Songs (Shih Ching)

 (Six Translations of Song #129)

 

 



The reeds and rushes are deeply green,
And the white dew is turned into hoarfrost.
The man of whom I think
Is somewhere about the water.
I go up the stream in quest of him,
But the way is difficult and long.
I go down the stream in quest of him,
And lo! he is right in the midst of the water.

The reeds and rushes are luxuriant,
And the white dew is not yet dry.
The man of whom I think
Is on the margin of the water.
I go up the stream in quest of him,
But the way is difficult and steep.
I go down the stream in quest of him,
And lo! he is on the islet in the midst of the water.

The reeds and rushes are abundant,
And the white dew has not yet ceased.
The man of whom I think
Is on the bank of the river.
I go up the stream in quest of him,
But the way is difficult and turns to the right.
I go down the stream in quest of him,
And lo! he is on the island in the midst of the water.

Translated by James Legge
(The Shih King or Book of Poetry, 1871)



The reeds and the rushes grow green;
The dew is changed to rime.
That person of whom I think
Is on the water somewhere . . .
Against the stream I go to him:
The way is hard and long.
Down the stream I go to him:
He is here is the midst of the water.

The reeds and the rushes grow green;
The dew is not yet dry.
That person of whom I think
Is on the water, near the banks . . .
Against the stream I go to him:
The way is rough and hard.
Down the stream I go to him:
He is here, on a ledge, in the water.

The reeds and the rushes grow green;
The dew has not yet gone.
That person of whom I think
Is on the water, near the dam . . .
Against the stream I go to him:
The way is hard and steep.
Down the stream I go to him:
He is here, on a rock, in the water!

Translated into French by Marcel Granet
(Ftes et chansons anciennes de la Chine, 1919),
thence into English by E.D. Edwards
(Festivals and Songs of Ancient China, 1932)



Thick grow the rush leaves;
Their white dew turns to frost.
He whom I love
Must be somewhere along this stream.
I went up the river to look for him,
But the way was difficult and long.
I went down the stream to look for him,
And there in mid-water
Sure enough, it’s he!

Close grow the rush leaves,
Their white dew not yet dry.
He whom I love
Is at the water’s side.
Up stream I sought him;
But the way was difficult and steep.
Down stream I sought him,
And away in mid-water
There on a ledge, that’s he!

Very fresh are the rush leaves;
The white dew still falls.
He whom I love
Is at the water’s edge.
Up stream I followed him;
But the way was hard and long.
Down stream I followed him,
And away in mid-water
There on the shoals is he!

Translated by Arthur Waley
 (The Book of Songs, 1937)



Green, green are the rush leaves,
White dew turns to frost.
That man I love
Is somewhere on the water.
I seek him upstream:
Hard is the road and long.
I seek him downriver.
Oh, he is there in midstream.

Thick, thick grow the rush leaves,
White dew not yet dry.
The man I love
Is on the margin of the water.
I seek him upstream:
Hard is the way and steep.
I wander downriver.
Oh, he is there in midstream.

Sweet, sweet are the rush leaves,
White dew not yet over.
The man I love
Is on the edge of the water.
I follow him upriver:
Hard is the way to the right.
I wander downriver.
Oh, he is on an island in midstream.

Translated by Robert Payne et al.
(The White Pony, 1947)


(A girl is out in the open, hoping for a love-meeting with her beau, whom she dare not even mention by name; but he eludes her.)

The reeds and rushes are very green, the white dew becomes hoar-frost; he whom I call “that man” is somewhere near the stream; I go up the stream after him, the road is difficult and long; I go down the stream after him, but he eludes me (by going) into the midst of the stream.

The reeds and rushes are luxuriant, the white dew has not yet dried up; he whom I call “that man” is on the bank of the stream; I go up the stream after him, the road is difficult and steep; I go down the stream after him, but he eludes me (by going) to an islet in the stream.

The reeds and rushes are full of colour; the white dew has not yet ceased; he whom I call “that man” is on the bank of the river; I go up the stream after him, the road is difficult and turns to the right; I go down the stream after him, but he eludes me (by going) to an island in the stream.

Translated by Bernhard Karlgren
(The Book of Odes, 1950)



Dark, dark be reed and rush,
the white dew turns to frost;
     what manner of man is this?
                                       lost?
     Gin I rin up,
     Gin I go down,
     Up stream heavy, there he’d be
     In mid water distantly.

Chill, chill be the reeds,
the white dew not yet dry;
     What manner of man is he
     under the hanging bank?

     Up stream heavily,
     gin I swim down,
     on tufted isle
     distantly.

Ever falls dew on bright reeds.
     What manner of thing is he
     who seems to be there on the marge

     Up stream, to the West, at large?
     Hard to go up, to swim, tho’ he seem
     there on the isle, mid-stream.

Translated by Ezra Pound
(The Confucian Odes, 1954)

 



Six translations of a song from the Chinese Book of Songs (Shih Ching).

Copyright notice.


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