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Classical Chinese

詩經 柏舟 translation: Cypress Boat, from the Classic of Poetry

This is a translation / annotation of the section 柏舟 (Bǎi Zhōu) - “Cypress Boat” - from the 詩經 (Shījīng) - the Classic of Poetry. This is quite a famous section, and the term 柏舟 remains a metaphor for uncertainty and unsteady intentions.

Pinyin romanisation is given here to help modern learners follow the text, but the original pronunciation of this would of course have been extremely different, having been Old Chinese.

As always, if you have any suggestions or criticisms, please share them in the comments.

cypress trees

柏舟 Bǎi Zhōu [cypress] [boat] Cypress Boat

汎彼柏舟, Fàn bǐ bǎi zhōu, [float] [that] [cypress] [boat] Floating is that cypress boat, ("Floating" here is in the sense of being unsteady or moving.)

在彼中河, zài bǐ zhōng hé, [at] [that] [middle] [river] in the middle of the river;

髧彼兩髦, dàn bǐ liǎng máo, [long hair] [that] [two] [fringe] his hair in two tufts of fringe, (This indicates he is a young man.)

實維我儀, shí wéi wǒ yí, [truly] [maintain] [my] [partner] he truly will remain my companion -

之死矢靡它, zhī sǐ shǐ mí tā, [it] [die] [swear] [not] [it] until death I will have no other;

母也天只, mǔ yě tiān zhǐ, [mother] [-] [heaven] [-] Oh Mother, Oh Heaven,

不諒人只。 bù liàng rén zhǐ. [not] [understand] [person] [-] do you not believe me?

汎彼柏舟, Fàn bǐ bǎi zhōu, [float] [that] [cypress] [boat] Floating is that cypress boat,

在彼河側, zài bǐ hé cè, [at] [that] [middle] [side] by the side of the river;

髧彼兩髦, dàn bǐ liǎng máo, [long hair] [that] [two] [fringe] his hair in two tufts of fringe,

實維我特, shí wéi wǒ tè, [truly] [maintain] [my] [partner] he truly will be my companion -

之死矢靡慝, zhī sǐ shǐ mí tè, [it] [die] [swear] [not] [evil thought] till death I swear I will not be unfaithful;

母也天只, mǔ yě tiān zhǐ, [mother] [-] [heaven] [-] Oh Mother, Oh Heaven,

不諒人只。 bù liàng rén zhǐ. [not] [understand] [person] [-] do you not believe me?

As always, please share your suggestions and criticisms in the comments.

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