The flowers of the cherry tree

CherryTree

「唐棣之華,偏其反而,豈不爾思?室是遠而。」子曰:「未之思也,未何遠之有?」
The flowers of the cherry tree
Flutter and turn
How could it be that I do not long for you?
But your house is so far away!
Confucius said: “He does not really long for her. If he did, would he care about the distance?”

Book 9 of the Analects ends with a quite marvelous piece of doggerel that almost fits into the “so bad that it’s good” category.

Some scholars have fought manfully to dredge out deeper layers of symbolic meaning from Confucius’s, er, profound and insightful analysis of this limp-wristed declaration of affection, while others have tried to figure out how this passage could possibly have made it into the Analects.

More likely Confucius was just sharing a few laughs over some bevvies with his friends, as no doubt was the editor who decided to save it for posterity.

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