Classic of Poetry

The Classic of Poetry (traditional Chinese: 詩經; pinyin: Shījīng; Wade-Giles: Shih-ching), translated variously as the Book of Songs, Book of Odes, or simply known by the name of Odes or Poetry (Chinese: 詩; pinyin: Shī), the Classic of Poetry is the earliest existing anthology of Chinese poems and songs. It comprises 305 poems and songs dating from the 10th to the 7th century BC. Classic of Poetry forms part of the Five Classics. The Odes first became known as a jīng, or a "classic book", in the canonical sense, as part of the Han Dynasty official adoption of Confucianism as the guiding principles of Chinese society. The word shi is the same word that later became a generic term for poetry. In English, lacking an exact equivalent for the Chinese, the translation of the word shi in this regard is generally as "poem", "song", or "ode". Before its elevation as a canonical classic, the Classic of Poetry (Shi jing) was known as the Three Hundred Songs or the Songs.

The Poetry is an anthology compiled from the works of various anonymous authorship. The various collected works are generally associated with specific chronological periods, such as the Zhou Dynasty, and/or associated with the specific states of that time period; however, many uncertainties exist, especially as to dates of the earliest poems.

According to tradition, the method of collection of the various Shijing poems involved the appointment of officials, whose duties included documenting verses current from the various states which constituting the empire. Out of these many collected pieces, also according to tradition, Confucius made a final editorial round of decisions for elimination or inclusion in the received version of the Poetry. As with all great literary works of ancient China, the Poetry has been annotated and commented on numerous times throughout history, as well as in this case providing a model to inspire future poetic works.

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