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Quotations about Liberty and Power

About this Quotation:

The “yellow birds” who have entered a foreign land and are not welcomed by the local population because they eat the crops, the mulberries, the maize, and the corn. The reason the birds entered this other country so far from their families and kin is not made clear but it could be a reference to foreign troops who invade another country and who live off the land and thus alienate the very people they came to help or to conquer.

Other quotes about Literature & Music:

12 May, 2008

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Confucius edited this collection of poems which contains a poem about “Yellow Birds” who ravenously eat the crops of the local people, thus alienating them completely (520 BC)

Read the full quote in context here.

In the ancient Chinese collection of poems known as the Shih King, probably edited by Confucius, there is a touching verse which laments the ravenous yellow birds in a foreign land where they are not welcomed:

Yellow birds, yellow birds!
Do not crowd the tree-tops;
Come not pecking our crops.—
From the folk of this land
We unwelcoming win;
Up, let us return
To our country and kin.

The full passage from which this quotation was taken can be be viewed below (front page quote in bold):

DISAPPOINTED EMIGRANTS.

Yellow birds, yellow birds!
Do not crowd the tree-tops;
Come not pecking our crops.—
From the folk of this land
We unwelcoming win;
Up, let us return
To our country and kin.


Yellow birds, yellow birds!
—Not the mulberry-trees.
Come not pecking our maize.—
With the folk of this land
Understanding is vain;
Up, let us return
To our brethren again.

Yellow birds, yellow birds!
—Nor the thicket of thorn.
Come not pecking our corn.
With the folk of this land
We can never remain;
Up, let us return
To our fathers again.

[More works by Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)]