I Love You at the Expense of My Own Life
The Book of Songs is a collection of ancient stories. Its description of love and marriage opens a unique window for later generations to take a glimpse into the private lives of those who lived long ago. Through this window, one can see laughter, admiration and sadness. Some of the love stories move readers to tears. “Bei Feng • Zhong Feng” depicts the sentiments of ancient Chinese women regarding love.
The gust blows strongly and he smiles at me; he flirted with me wildly and I feel frightened and annoyed.
The gust raises dust and I don’t know whether he will come as I wish; it’s hard to get together after we say goodbye to each other and I feel sad thinking about him.
The gust blocks the sight of the sky and the sun can’t be seen; It is hard to fall asleep all night and missing him makes me sneeze.
The sky is dark and thunder begins to ramble. It’s hard to fall asleep all night and I hope he misses me too.
“Zhong Feng” was originally a folk ballad. Modern scholars believe that it is a sad story that happened 2,500 years ago. A woman was abandoned by her lover, who she thought would never leave her after he flirted with her.
The man in “Zhong Feng” smiled at the woman when he first saw her. He talked to her amusingly, but she could not tell him how upset she was. She thought of love as a serious matter, believing that even a lively person could become serious when he fell in love and would treat it as an important part of his life. Despite his antics, she could see a life with him.
“Zhong Feng” is familiar to readers. According to historical records, there was a man named Qiu Hu in the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC). He flirted with his wife, but he never thought that his flirtation would make his wife leave him. On the fifth day after his marriage, Qiu went to the State of Chen and began working as an official there. He was very busy for the next five years. He hurried all the way back home on his horse after this. Before arriving home, Qiu saw a beautiful woman in the field from a distance. She was picking mulberry leaves in a graceful manner. He stared at her for a few moments and then walked up to her, flirting with her with amusing words. However, the woman turned him down bluntly. After seeing that words could not move her, he tried giving her some money because he believed money would make the mare go. Unfortunately, the woman would not change her mind. Finally, Qiu stopped and went home. Upon arriving home, he found that the woman he had just flirted with was his wife. It was like a bolt out of the blue for him. His wife’s blunt refusal contrasted with his flippancy. Qiu regretted his behavior and his wife was completely disheartened. She may have even run out of the house and threw herself into the river. It is said that many people witnessed the tragedy. Today, some people may think that Qiu’s wife is pitiful and that her attitude is stupid. She died in mourning for their passing love rather than defending her values though.
The poem “Zhong Feng” does not mention what happened at the end. People can read between the lines and make inferences about what came next, however.