something relevant for a certain world leader from the Book of Songs: No.52

See the rat–at least it’s got a hide,
but a man with no manners,
a man with no manners–
why doesn’t he just die!

See the rat–at least it’s got teeth,
but a man with no decorum,
a man with no decorum–
what’s keeping him! why doesn’t he die?

See the rat–at least it’s got legs,
but a man without courtesy,
a man without courtesy–
why doesn’t he hurry up and die!

translated by Burton Watson

another poem about waiting from the Book of Songs: When the Gourd Has Dried Leaves

When the gourd has dried leaves,
you can wade the deep river.
Keep your clothes on if the water’s deep;
hitch up your dress when it’s shallow.

The river is rising,
pheasants are chirping.
The water is just half a wheel deep,
and the hen is singing to the cock.

Wild geese are trilling,
the rising sun starts dawn.
If you want to marry me,
come before the river is frozen.

The ferryman is gesturing,
other people are going, but not me,
other people are going, but not me.
I’m waiting for you.

translated by Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping

I Climb A Hilltop: anti-war poem from the Book of Songs

I climb a rock-strewn hilltop
and gaze, gaze out toward my
father, O father calling: My child, my child dragged off to war,
no rest all day and all night.
Take care, take care and be ever
homeward, not stuck out there.

I climb a grass-patch hilltop
and gaze, gaze out toward my
mother, O mother calling: My little one, my little one dragged off to war,
no sleep all day and all night.
Take care, take care and be ever
homeward, not lost out there.

I climb some windblown ridge
and gaze, gaze out toward my
brother, O brother calling: My brother, my brother dragged off to war,
formation all day and all night.
Take care, take care and be ever
homeward, not dead out there.

translated by David Hinton

My Love’s Gone Off To War from the Book of Songs

My love’s gone off to war,
who knows how long gone
or where O where.
Chickens settle unto nests,
an evening sun sinks away,
oxen and sheep wander in–
but my love’s gone off to war
and nothing can stop these thoughts of him.

My love’s gone off to war,
not for days or even months,
and who survives such things?
Chickens settle onto perches,
an evening sun sinks away,
oxen and sheep wander home–
but my love’s gone off to war
if hunger and thirst spared him that long.

translated by David Hinton

from The Book of Songs: How Few of Us Are Left

How few of us are left, how few!
Why do we not go back?
Were it not for our prince and his concerns,
What should we be doing here in the dew?

How few of us are left, how few!
Why do we not go back?
Were it not for our prince’s own concerns,
What should we be doing here in the mud?

translated by Arthur Waley

from The Book of Songs: No. 28

Cold blows the northern wind,
Thick falls the snow.
Be kind to me, love me,
Take my hand and go with me.
Yet she lingers, yet she havers!
There is no time to lose.

The north wind whistles,
Whirls the falling snow.
Be kind to me, love me,
Take my hand and go home with me.
Yet she lingers, yet she havers!
There is no time to lose.

Nothing is redder than the fox,
Nothing blacker than the crow.
Be kind to me, love me,
Take my hand and ride with me.
Yet she lingers, yet she havers!
There is no time to lose.

translated by Arthur Waley

from The Book of Songs: No. 36

Outside the Eastern Gate
Are girls many as the clouds;
But though they are many as clouds
There is none on whom my heart dwells.
White jacket and grey scarf
Alone could cure my woe.

Beyond the Gate Tower
Are girls lovely as rush-wool;
But though they are lovely as rush-wool
There is none with whom my heart bides.
White jacket and madder skirt
Alone could bring me joy.

translated by Arthur Waley

from the Book of Songs: No. 22

Of fair girls the loveliest
Was to meet me at the corner of the Wall.
But she hides and will not show herself;
I scratch my head, pace up and down.

Of fair girls the prettiest
Gave me a red flute.
The flush of that red flute
Is pleasure at the girl’s beauty.

She has been in the pastures and brought for me rush-wood,
Very beautiful and rare.
It is not you that are beautiful;
But you were given by a lovely girl.

translated by Arthur Waley