1.15

Zigong asked, “To be a poor person who doesn’t grovel or a rich person who isn’t arrogant. What do you think of that?”

Confucius replied, “Not bad, not bad. But not as good as being poor and enjoying the Way or being rich and loving ritual.”

Zigong said, “The Book of Odes says,

Like cutting and filing,

like grinding and polishing.

Is that what you mean?”

Confucius said, “Ah Zigong, you’re the kind of person I can talk about The Book of Odes with. I give you a little and you come back with the rest!”

3.2

The Three Families had the King’s ode performed at the closing of their ceremonies, as the ritual utensils were being gathered up.

Confucius quoted the Ode,

 ‘Served by lords and princes,

The King, solemn and majestic.’

He added, “What could this possibly have to do with the ancestral hall of the Three Families?”

3.8

Zixia asked about the meaning of this passage from The Book of Odes:

‘Her alluring smile, with dimples,

The lovely eyes, expressive and clear

The color emerges bright and distinct from the white’

Confucius said, “The painting of color is done on a plain background.”

Zixia said, “Then, does ritual come after?”

Confucius replied, “Zixia lifts me up! Finally, someone to discuss The Book of Odes with!”

8.3

When Zengzi became ill, he called his students to him and said, “Uncover my feet and hands. “The Book of Odes says,

In fear and trembling,

As if standing on the edge of an abyss,

As is treading on thin ice.’

It’s only now that I know I’ve made it through safely, my young friends.”

9.31

The petals of the wild cherry tree,

How they wave and turn,

It’s not that I don’t think of you,

But your home is so far away.’

Confucius remarked, “He wasn’t really thinking of her. If he was, why would the distance bother him?”

10.27

Startled by their arrival, a bird took off and circled several times before perching on a branch.

Confucius quoted,

“‘The hen pheasant by the mountain ridge,

It knows the right moment!

It knows the right moment!’”

Zilu saluted the bird. It flapped its wings three times and flew away.

16.13

Chen Kang asked Confucius’ son, Boyu, “Have you been taught anything special, anything different from what the rest of us students have been taught?”

Boyu replied, “No. One day my father was standing alone in the courtyard as I came rushing past. He asked me, ‘Have you learned the Odes?’

“I said, ‘Not yet.’

“He said, ‘If you don’t learn the Odes, you’ll have nothing to say.’ So I went off and studied the Odes.

“Another time, he was standing alone when I came rushing past and he asked me, ‘Have you learned the Rites?’

“I said, ‘Not yet.’

He said, ‘If you don’t learn the Rites, you won’t be able to take your place in society.’ So I went off and studied the Rites. These are the two teachings I’ve received.”

Chen Kang withdrew, and with delight, said, “I asked one thing and learned three! I learned about the Odes and the Rites, and I learned that a noble person keeps some distance from his son.”

17.9

Confucius said, “Little ones, why don’t you study the Odes? The Odes can give your spirit a kick in the pants and can give your mind keener eyes. They can help you adjust better in groups and make you more articulate when making a complaint. They teach you to serve your parents at home and your ruler abroad. They also make you familiar with the names of birds, animals, plants, and trees.”