I Felt So Sad for Not Seeing Him
I’m listening to the crickets and watching the grasshoppers. I’m worried and restless without seeing him. My worries will be gone if he takes me in his arms. I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain, picking some fresh fern leaves.
I miss him so much without seeing him.
I will be happy if he takes me in his arms.
I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain, picking some fresh vegetable shoots.
I feel sad and upset without seeing him.
My gloom will be swept away if he takes me in his arms.
The poem “Caochong” (“Grass Insects”) in the Book of Songs (oldest collection of Chinese poetry) has been chanted for thousands of years and has become a classic in Chinese poetry. The line “I feel sad and upset without seeing him” is a common feeling when one misses someone. This love poem was written over 2,000 years ago. It is closely related to a person called Zhao Gong, who is still well-known for his good governance over western Shaanxi.
According to historical records, King Cheng (1055– 1021 BC) was fairly young at that time, so he was assisted by Zhou Gong and Zhao Gong. It was agreed that Zhao Gong govern western Shaanxi and Zhou Gong govern the east. Zhao Gong worked very hard after this division. Under his governance, the people in western Shaanxi lived and worked in peace and harmony, and the economy was prosperous.
Zhao Gong’s governance over western Shaanxi has been remembered for thousands of years, but a person named Li Jing has been ignored. Zhao Gong relied on the help of Li Jing to make many of the achievements in the area.
Li Jing grew up with Zhao Gong, and they knew each other for a long time. He learned the six classical arts by observing Zhao. He followed Zhao and travelled all over the country with him. His ability in measurement and arithmetic was superior to others, so Zhao Gong employed him when governing western Shaanxi. Li guided the citizens of western Shaanxi to measure and divide fields and set up a unified system of measurement across the country, which gave Zhao some idea of how much grain could be harvested every year and helped him make major decisions. Influenced by Zhao, Li began to be worried about the development of the country and the lives of its citizens. He became very good at solving problems. Zhao thought highly of Li and married him to a beautiful and smart woman named Tiao Yu. The couple were happily married for two years. Li worked for Zhao in the daytime and went home very early every day. After night fell, the couple read together and talked happily.
Later, Zhao felt that Li was capable enough to work independently. He wanted to send him to Nanshan, where people lived in hardship and communications were difficult, and proposed this plan. After thinking for a moment, Li replied, “I would like to go there.” Zhao provided him with people that were good at building houses and growing crops and told him to take enough food and seeds. Zhao said he would visit him in three years to check on his progress. Li responded positively and prepared for 10 days. He said goodbye to Tiao and Zhao on an auspicious day and led about 1,200 men to Nanshan.
Li was engaged in many projects. He taught local people to build houses and till the land. He also built many towns. Swords were recast into ploughs. He led his people to shape mountainous fields. He was busy working and Tiao missed him. Tiao became more worried about her husband when she heard that Nanshan suffered severe food scarcity and that the people used wild vegetables as staple food. Clouds in the autumn sky, whispering insects under her window, early dew and the evening breeze all reminded her of her husband. She lowered her head and chanted “Caochong.”
The poem does not mention whether the couple saw each other again, which readers have wondered about for over 2,000 years.