Sacred Texts  Confucianism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Book of Poetry, tr. by James Legge, [1876], at


The Hsiang Shu; allusive. A man without propriety is not equal to a rat.

1Behold a rat! Its skin has glossy sheen!
Then mark that man's demeanor, poor and mean!
Bearing of bearing void!—what means it? This:—
’Twere better death than longer life were his!

2Behold a rat! Its teeth can sharply bite!
Then mark deportment careless of what's right!
Manners thus careless of what's right declare
’Twere well the man himself for death prepare.

3Behold a rat! How small its limbs, and fine!
Then mark the course that scorns the proper line!
Propriety's neglect may well provoke
A wish the man would quickly court death's stroke.

Next: IX. Kan Mao