Confucius on China's Ancient Anthology of Poetry
The below excerpts are Confucius's references to the Shih Ching anthology, or the ancient Book of Poetry, in his Analects (here translated by James Legge).
Confucius, or K'ung Fu-Tzu lived around the year 500 BC in China. The Shih Ching--like the I Ching or Book of Changes, Shu Ching or Book of History, and Li Chi or Book of Rites--predates him.
Book I: Hsio R
Tsze-kung said, 'What do you pronounce concerning the poor man who yet does not flatter, and the rich man who is not proud?' The Master replied, 'They will do; but they are not equal to him, who, though poor, is yet cheerful, and to him, who, though rich, loves the rules of propriety.'
Tsze-kung replied, 'It is said in the Book of Poetry, "As you cut and then file, as you carve and then polish."--The meaning is the same, I apprehend, as that which you have just expressed.'
The Master said, 'With one like Ts'ze, I can begin to talk about the odes. I told him one point, and he knew its proper sequence.'
Book II: Wei Chang
The Master said, 'In the Book of Poetry are three hundred pieces, but the design of them all may be embraced in one sentence-- "Having no depraved thoughts."'
Book XVII: Yang Ho
The Master said, 'My children, why do you not study the Book of Poetry?
'The Odes serve to stimulate the mind.
'They may be used for purposes of self-contemplation.
'They teach the art of sociability.
'They show how to regulate feelings of resentment.
'From them you learn the more immediate duty of serving one's father, and the remoter one of serving one's prince.
'From them we become largely acquainted with the names of birds, beasts, and plants.'