Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/30

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
18
CHINESE LITERATURE

"There is a rainbow in the east,
And no one dares point at it,"—

and is applied figuratively to women who form improper connections.

The position of women generally seems to have been very much what it is at the present day. In an Ode which describes the completion of a palace for one of the ancient princes, we are conducted through the rooms,—

"Here will he live, here will he sit,
Here will he laugh, here will he talk,"—

until we come to the bedchamber, where he will awake, and call upon the chief diviner to interpret his dream of bears and serpents. The interpretation (Legge) is as follows:—

"Sons shall be born to him:—
They will be put to sleep on couches;
They will be clothed in robes;
They will have sceptres to play with;
Their cry will be loud.
They will be resplendent with red knee-covers,
The future princes of the land.

"Daughters shall be born to him:—
They will be put to sleep on the ground;
They will be clothed with wrappers;
They will have tiles to play with.
It will be theirs neither to do wrong nor to do good.
Only about the spirits and the food will they have to think,
And to cause no sorrow to their parents."

The distinction thus drawn is severe enough, and it is quite unnecessary to make a comparison, as some writers on China have done, between the tile and the sceptre, as though the former were but a dirty potsherd, good enough for a girl. A tile was used in the early