The first four verses state the core credo of Confucianism:
人之初 (rén zhī chū) People at birth,
性本善 (xìng běn shàn) Are naturally good (kind-hearted).
性相近 (xìng xiāng jìn) Their natures are similar,
習相遠 (xí xiāng yuǎn) (But) their habits make them different (from each other).
The work is not one of the traditional Confucian classics, but rather the embodiment of Confucianism suitable for teaching young children. Until the latter part of the 1800s, it served as a child’s first formal education at home.