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p. 168

Book XV. The Odes of Pin


The Ch‘i Yüeh; narrative. Life in Pin in the olden time; the provident arrangements there to secure the constant supply of food and raiment,—whatever was necessary for the support and comfort of the people.

1The seventh month sees the Ho go down the sky,
And in the ninth, the stores warm clothes supply.
Our first month's days, the wind blows cold and shrill;
Our second's days, winds hushed, the air is chill.
But for those clothes, and garments made of hair,
At the year's end, how badly all would fare!
Our third month's days, their plows in hand they take,
And all the fourth the fields their home they make.
I with my wife and children take my way,
And to the southern acres food convey
For those who toil. Appears th’ inspector then,
Surveys the fields, and cheers the working men. p. 169

2The seventh month sees the Ho go down the sky,
And in the ninth, the stores warm clothes supply.
The warmth begins when come the days of spring,
And then their notes we hear the orioles sing.
See the young women, with their baskets high,
About the mulberry trees their labors ply!
The softest leaves, along the paths, they seek,
To feed their silkworms, newly hatched and weak.
For such, as longer grow the days of spring,
In crowds they haste white southernwood to bring.
’Mongst them are some who grieve with wounded heart;—
To wed young lords, from parents soon they part!

3The seventh month sees the Ho down westward go;
The eighth, the reeds and sedges thickly grow.
The months the silkworms’ eggs are hatched, they break
The mulberry branches, thus their leaves to take; p. 170
And where those branches stretch out far and high,
Hatchets and axes on them boldly ply,
While younger trees only their leaves supply.
In the seventh month, the shrike's notes shrilly sound,
And on the eighth, twisting the hemp they're found.
Their woven fabrics, dark or yellow dyed,
Are valued highly o’er a circle wide.
Our brilliant red, the triumph of our art,
For young lords’ lower robes is set apart.

4In the fourth month, the snakeroot bursts the ear;
The shrill cicadas in the fifth we hear.
When comes the eighth, the ripened grain they crop,
And in the tenth the leaves begin to drop.
In our first month for badgers quest they make;
The wildcat also and the fox they take:—
These last the furs for young lords to supply.
Our second month, there comes the hunting high,
When great and small attend our ruler's car, p. 171
And practice all the exercise of war.
The hunters get the younger boars they find;
Those three years old are to the prince assigned.

5The locust in the fifth month beats its thighs;
And in the sixth, its wings the spinner plies.
The next, we find the crickets in the field;
Under our eaves, the eighth, they lie concealed;
The ninth, they come and near our doorways keep;
The tenth, beneath our beds they slyly creep.
The rats we smoke out; chinks we fill up tight;—
And close each opening on the north for light,
And plaster wicker doors; then each one says,
"O wife and children, this year's toiling days
Are o’er, and soon another year will come;
Enter and dwell in this our cozy home."

6For food, the sixth month, plums and vines they spoil;
The seventh, the beans and sunflower seeds they boil; p. 172
The eighth, they strike the jujube dates all down;
The tenth, they reap the paddy fully grown,
And with the grain make spirits ’gainst the spring,
Which to the bushy eyebrows comfort bring.
In the seventh month, their food the melons make;
And in the eighth, the bottle gourds they take.
The ninth, in soups hempseed they largely use,
Nor Sonchus leaves do they for these refuse.
Th’ ailanthus foul, for other use not good,
They fell, and then for fuel burn the wood:—
’Tis thus the laborer is supplied with food.

7In the ninth month, the yards, now stript and bare,
They for the produce of the fields prepare.
The tenth month sees the carrying all complete,—
Of early millets and the late, the wheat,
The heap, the pulse,—whatever grain we eat.
This labor done, the husbandmen all say,
"Our harvest here is well secured. Away
To town, and see what for our houses there
We need to do, to put them in repair! p. 173
The reeds we'll gather while we have the light,
And firmly twist them into ropes at night.
Up on the roofs we'll haste with these in hand:—
Soon will the fields our time again demand."

8Our second month, they, with harmonious blows,
Hew out the ice,—housed ere our third month close.
The following month, and in the early dawn,
They ope the doors;—forth now may ice be drawn;
A lamb being offered, after rites of old,
With scallions flanked, to him who rules the cold.
In the ninth month, the cold begins, with frost;
The tenth their cornyards swept and clean they boast.
Good spirits, in two vessels kept, they take,
To help their joy, and this proposal make:—
"We'll kill both lambs and sheep," they joyous say,
"And to the ruler's quickly take our way.
We'll mount his hall; the massive cup we'll raise,
Made of rhinoceros’ horn, and as we praise,
Wish him long life, the life of endless days."

Next: II. Ch‘ih Hsiao