The Wisdom of Confucius

Page 34 of 49



Ripe, the plums fall from the bough;
Only seven-tenths left there now!
Ye whose hearts on me are set,
Now the time is fortunate!
Ripe, the plums fall from the bough;
Only three-tenths left there now!
Ye who wish my love to gain,
Will not now apply in vain!
[Pg 156] No more plums upon the bough!
All are in my basket now!
Ye who me with ardor seek,
Need the word but freely speak!

[Pg 157]


The Odes of P‘ei



It floats about, that boat of cypress wood,
Now here, now there, as by the current borne.
Nor rest nor sleep comes in my troubled mood;
I suffer as when painful wound has torn
The shrinking body. Thus I dwell forlorn,
And aimless muse, my thoughts of sorrow full.
I might with wine refresh my spirit worn;
I might go forth, and, sauntering try to cool
The fever of my heart; but grief holds sullen rule.
My mind resembles not a mirror plate,
Reflecting all the impressions it receives.
The good I love, the bad regard with hate;
I only cherish whom my heart believes.
Colleagues I have, but yet my spirit grieves,
That on their honor I cannot depend.
I speak, but my complaint no influence leaves
Upon their hearts; with mine no feelings blend;
With me in anger they, and fierce disdain contend.
My mind is fixed, and cannot, like a stone,
Be turned at will indifferently about;
And what I think, to that, and that alone,
[Pg 158] I utterance give, alike within, without;
Nor can like mat be rolled and carried out.
With dignity in presence of them all,
My conduct marked, my goodness who shall scout?
My foes I boldly challenge, great and small,
If there be aught in me they can in question call.
How full of trouble is my anxious heart!
With hate the blatant herd of creatures mean
Ceaseless pursue. Of their attacks the smart
Keeps my mind in distress. Their venomed spleen
Aye vents itself; and with insulting mien
They vex my soul; and no one on my side
A word will speak. Silent, alone, unseen,
I think of my sad case; then opening wide
My eyes, as if from sleep, I beat my breast, sore-tried.
Thy disc, O sun, should ever be complete,
While thine, O changing moon, doth wax and wane.
But now our sun hath waned, weak and effete,
And moons are ever full. My heart with pain
Is firmly bound, and held in sorrow's chain,
As to the body cleaves an unwashed dress.
Silent I think of my sad case; in vain
I try to find relief from my distress.
Would I had wings to fly where ills no longer press!



Away the startled pheasant flies,
With lazy movement of his wings.
Borne was my heart's lord from my eyes;—
What pain the separation brings!
[Pg 159] The pheasant, though no more in view,
His cry, below, above, forth sends.
Alas! my princely lord, 'tis you—
Your absence, that my bosom rends.
At sun and moon I sit and gaze,
In converse with my troubled heart.
Far, far from me my husband stays!
When will he come to heal its smart?
Ye princely men who with him mate,
Say, mark ye not his virtuous way.
His rule is—covet nought, none hate;—
How can his steps from goodness stray?



The east wind gently blows,
With cloudy skies and rain.
'Twixt man and wife should ne'er be strife,
But harmony obtain.
Radish and mustard plants
Are used, though some be poor;
While my good name is free from blame,
Don't thrust me from your door.
I go along the road,
Slow, with reluctant heart.
Your escort lame to door but came,
There glad from me to part.
Sow-thistle, bitter called,
As shepherd's purse is sweet;
With your new mate you feast elate,
As joyous brothers meet.
[Pg 160] Part clear, the stream of King
Is foul beside the Wei.
You feast elate with your new mate,
And take no heed of me.
Loose mate, avoid my dam,
Nor dare my basket move!
Person slighted, life all blighted,
What can the future prove?
The water deep, in boat,
Or raft-sustained, I'd go;
And where the stream did narrow seem,
I dived or breasted through.
I labored to increase
Our means, or great or small;
When 'mong friends near death did appear,
On knees to help I'd crawl.
No cherishing you give,
I'm hostile in your eyes.
As pedler's wares for which none cares,
My virtues you despise.
When poverty was nigh,
I strove our means to spare;
You, now rich grown, me scorn to own;
To poison me compare.
The stores for winter piled
Are all unprized in spring.
So now, elate with your new mate,
Myself away you fling.
Your cool disdain for me
A bitter anguish hath.
The early time, our love's sweet prime,
In you wakes only wrath.

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