Saturday, May 25, 2019
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The Book of Songs

The Book of Songs

The Book of Songs is the first collection of poems in China. It recorded a total of 305 poems created over a period of 500 years or so, from early Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC - 771 BC) to the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period. It was said that specific officials were appointed with a sole role of collecting poems among the mass. There was also a rule requiring officials to compose poems and present them to the emperor at that time. The anthology came out after further compilation. According to the story, all the poems in the Book of Songs were lyrics of the ancient days.

At the very begining, The Book of Songs was known as poems or Three Hundred Poems. The great thinker Confucius used it as a textbook to teach his disciples. It was named as The Book of Songs after Han Dynasty.

The Book of Songs is rich in contents. Many of its works depicted the genuine landscape picture of society at that period. Among them many stories were devoted to love and marriage between young people. Besides, some poems portrayed the hard life of social underclass, some reflected the general public's resistance to oppression, and aspiration for freedom and happiness. others denounced the war and the sufferings caused by. The poems in The Book of Songs mainly consist of four-character verses. They are original in wording in style, and pleasant to read. For instance.

There she is gathering vine
A day without seeing her
Is like three autumns

...

This poem entitled Gatering Vine expresses a young man's pinning for his love. The tenor is that she has gone to gather vine and was un-seen for one day which is like three years for that moment. The popular idiom "One day without seeing is like three autumns" originated from this poem.

The Book of Songs was not only a valuable resource for studying ancient Zhou society, but also the root for Chinese poetry. It has a great impact upon the development of poetry in later time, in terms of both its ideological and artistic achievements.

 
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