Many aspects of these poems will always seem strange to us: unfamiliar place names and vanished folkways. Very few readers indeed have ever ridden in a chariot, nor do we wear belts with carved stones dangling from them (Waley`s ”girdles”). But in many of the songs something basic is still transmitted, even across the barriers of translation, a different culture, and over two and a half millennia of history. And when we catch that basic human note, we may recognize that it is we who have become strange and alien, not the songs. We find in them words we can feel but no longer say, such as the following words of a woman to a lover who has abandoned her:
If along the highroad
I caught hold of your sleeve,
Do not hate me:
Old ways take time to overcome.
The Book of Songs,The Ancient Chinese Classic of Poetry