The Odes of Yong – Essay Example

The paper "The Odes of Yong" is a perfect example of an essay on literature. The number 52 poem on the Odes of Yong which makes up, among others, the fourth chapter of Shi Jing (the Book of Odes) goes: “Look at a rat, it has its skin; But a man should be without dignity of demeanor, If a man has no dignity of demeanor, What should he but die? Look at a rat, it has its teeth, But a man shall be without any right of the department. If a man has not the right department, What should he wait for but death? Look at a rat – it has its limbs, But a man shall be without rules of propriety. Why does he not quickly die?” (The Book of Odes). The above poem tackles the importance of social etiquette and conduct that a person is obliged to observe in public without which he will meet his social death. To underscore their importance to the reader, the poet uses the analogy of skin, teeth, and limbs of a rat. Although these are not internal anatomical parts, their absence will nevertheless cause the rat’s death because the skin serves as a mechanical barrier shielding its body from infections and harsh elements, the teeth are employed in food digestion and survival, and limbs are used for hunting food and protect itself from its enemies. The comparison of these analogs, therefore qualify the images as metaphors, with the common similarity between the images and the ideas they are being compared to as both necessary for survival: in the physical world for rats, and in the social world for man. The fact however that every image (of a rat), consisting of one line, is immediately followed by three lines about human conduct and social etiquette gives the whole stanza a puzzling character and compels the reader to look closer and understand the significance and relation of the first line to the other three. In this respect, it could be said that the images in this particular poem are used not only as metaphors but also to engage the attention of the readers and highlight the importance of the ideas that the poem is driving at.