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Chinese poem illustration: 小雅 鹿鸣 Small Ya: Deer Sings by Anonymous

鹿鸣

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One of the first four poems(诗经四始) in Book of Songs, specifically the first poem in Small Ya(小雅). Ya is one of the three category poetry in Book of Songs, which believed to be the songs/poetry by Zhou people, the ethnic race founded the the Zhou dynasty. Ya could be interpreted as setting right(正), or center. Setting right is the first principle of Zhou people, and also the term to describe anything of Zhou people. Ya poetry was divided into Small Ya(小雅) by Zhou aristocracy, and Great Ya(大雅) by Zhou King, yet it is still an hypothesis by today’s people. Setting right, is purely a political term for Zhou people, which means choose the middle way among the opinions of people, the Zhou Wind(周南 召南) is also called as Zheng Wind(正风).

As the first poem in Small Ya, the significance of this poem is solid clear to Zhou people and later generations. It described a happy dining party while the archetype and allusion are argued through the history.

From this some 2500-3000 years ago poem, we can still found something in this poem alive today among chinese, the hospitality and Rites of Zhou( 周礼).

小雅·鹿鸣
佚名

呦呦鹿鸣,食野之苹。我有嘉宾,鼓瑟吹笙。
吹笙鼓簧,承筐是将。人之好我,示我周行。

呦呦鹿鸣,食野之蒿。我有嘉宾,德音孔昭。
视民不恌,君子是则是效。我有旨酒,嘉宾式燕以敖。

呦呦鹿鸣,食野之芩。我有嘉宾,鼓瑟鼓琴。
鼓瑟鼓琴,和乐且湛。我有旨酒,以燕乐嘉宾之心。

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