Songs remembering the old folk. 3.

Sung by Tao Zi-gai.


This song consists of two exactly parallel stanzas of five lines each. Though the general meaning is clear, it is difficult at first sight to understand what the first two lines have to do with the remaining three lines in each stanza. The problem lies in the interpretation of the metaphors employed. What have horns on the heads of cattle and sheep to do with the role of the old folk? This role is then described as resembling a grove of trees which afford shade from the heat, or as way marks to guide the traveller on the right course.

That which links the various pictures together is the word "stand". The horns, the parents, the grove of trees and the way marks all "stand" in place, fulfilling their proper functions. It is normal and natural that the horns should stand on the heads of sheep and cattle, and in no sense are the animals impeded by their weight. So it is natural and normal, indeed both right and proper, for the old folk to stand in a position of authority and responsibility within the clan, giving reassurance and guidance to the younger generation.

Literal Transcription

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Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

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