Book of Songs

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Response to “The Book of Songs” #2

While “Air of the States” depicted the thoughts of the ordinary, minor and major odes have poems that portray the views of nobility and rulers. The Minor Odes is mainly written by aristocratic people, and The Major Odes has the words of the kings and rulers. Divided by decades, the poems tend to talk more about broader themes. Readers can find those implications from the specific examples shown in the poems.

The poem “What Plant Is Not Faded?” is the last of the minor odes. It starts by questions that are rhetorical. The questions all describe the marching line of soldiers on expedition. The speaker is revealed as a soldier in the line “Alas for us soldiers”. The soldier is lamenting on how they are treated as animals, not “fellow-men”. However, the poem does not show sign of any resistance toward the leaders. Although they are dwelling on their harsh and misfortunate circumstances, seem to understand their leaders and practice loyalty that Confucius stressed in his teaching. The last line “And we push them along the track” implies that they are keep going to follow the leader like what they were doing during the expedition.

The first poem of The Major Odes, “King Wen” mainly uses its lines for praising the King Wen. It lists positive aspects of the king and says heaven gave him the position. It also warns about the responsibility of the ruler: “The charge is not easy to keep. Do not bring ruin on yourselves.” But more part of the poem gives reader hope about the future of Zhou.
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