Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE MINOR ODES OF THE KINGDOM. Pieces and Stanzas illustrating the Religious Views and Practices of the Writers and their Times. - The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King
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THE MINOR ODES OF THE KINGDOM. Pieces and Stanzas illustrating the Religious Views and Practices of the Writers and their Times. - Misc (Confucian School), The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King 
The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King, trans. James Legge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879).
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THE MINOR ODES OF THE KINGDOM.
The First Decade, or that of Lû-ming.
Ode 5, Stanza 1.
The Fâ mû.
On the trees go the blows kăng-kăng; And the birds cry out ying-ying. One issues from the dark valley, And removes to the lofty tree. Ying goes its cry, Seeking with its voice its companion. Look at the bird, Bird as it is, seeking with its voice its companion; And shall a man Not seek to have his friends? Spiritual beings will then hearken to him1 ; He shall have harmony and peace.
The Thien Pâo.
Heaven protects and establishes thee, With the greatest security; Makes thee entirely virtuous. That thou mayest enjoy every happiness; Grants thee much increase, So that thou hast all in abundance.
Heaven protects and establishes thee. It grants thee all excellence, So that thine every matter is right, And thou receivest every Heavenly favour. It sends down to thee long-during happiness, Which the days are not sufficient to enjoy.
Heaven protects and establishes thee, So that in everything thou dost prosper. Like the high hills and the mountain masses, Like the topmost ridges and the greatest bulks, Like the stream ever coming on, Such is thine increase.
With happy auspices and purifications thou bringest the offerings, And dost filially present them, In spring, summer, autumn, and winter, To the dukes and former kings1 ; And they say, ‘We give to thee myriads of years, duration unlimited2 .’
The spirits come3 , And confer on thee many blessings. The people are simple and honest, Daily enjoying their meat and drink. All the black-haired race, in all their surnames, Universally practise thy virtue.
Like the moon advancing to the full, Like the sun ascending the heavens, Like the everlasting southern hills, Never waning, never falling, Like the luxuriance of the fir and the cypress;—May such be thy succeeding line!
Ode 9, Stanza 4.
The Tî tû.
The congratulation is given in a description of the anxiety and longing of the soldiers’ wives for their return. We must suppose one of the wives to be the speaker throughout. The fourth stanza shows how she had resorted to divination to allay her fears about her husband.
They have not packed up, they do not come. My sorrowing heart is greatly distressed. The time is past, and he is not here, To the multiplication of my sorrows. Both by the tortoise-shell and the reeds have I divined, And they unite in saying he is near. My warrior is at hand.
The Fourth Decade, or that of Khî fû.
Ode 5, Stanzas 5 to 9.
The Sze Kan.
The piece is referred to the time of king Hsüan (bc 827 to 782).
Level and smooth is the courtyard, And lofty are the pillars around it. Pleasant is the exposure of the chamber to the light, And deep and wide are its recesses. Here will our noble lord repose.
On the rush-mat below and that of fine bamboos above it, May he repose in slumber! May he sleep and awake, (Saying), ‘Divine for me my dreams1 . What dreams are lucky? They have been of bears and grisly bears; They have been of cobras and (other) snakes.’
The chief diviner will divine them. ‘The bears and grisly bears. Are the auspicious intimations of sons; The cobras and (other) snakes. Are the auspicious intimations of daughters2 .’
Sons shall be born to him:—They will be put to sleep on couches; They will be clothed in robes; They will have sceptres to play with; Their cry will be loud. They will be (hereafter) resplendent with red knee-covers, The (future) king, the princes of the land.
Daughters shall be born to him:—They will be put to sleep on the ground; They will be clothed with wrappers; They will have tiles to play with3 . It will be theirs neither to do wrong nor to do good4 . Only about the spirits and the food will they have to think, And to cause no sorrow to their parents.
Ode 6, Stanza 4.
The Wû Yang.
Your herdsmen shall dream, Of multitudes and then of fishes, Of the tortoise-and-serpent, and then of the falcon, banners1 . The chief diviner will divine the dreams;—How the multitudes, dissolving into fishes, Betoken plentiful years; How the tortoise-and-serpent, dissolving into the falcon, banners, Betoken the increasing population of the kingdom.
The Kieh Nan Shan.
This piece is referred to the time of king Yû (bc 781 to 771), the unworthy son of king Hsüan. The ‘Grand-Master’ Yin must have been one of the ‘three Kung’, the highest ministers at the court of Kâu, and was, probably, the chief of the three, and administrator of the government under Yû.
Lofty is that southern hill2 , With its masses of rocks! Awe-inspiring are you, O (Grand-)Master Yin, And the people all look to you! A fire burns in their grieving hearts; They do not dare to speak of you even in jest. The kingdom is verging to extinction;—How is it that you do not consider the state of things?
Lofty is that southern hill, And vigorously grows the vegetation on it! Awe-inspiring are you, O (Grand-)Master Yin, But how is it that you are so unjust? Heaven is continually redoubling its inflictions; Deaths and disorder increase and multiply; No words of satisfaction come from the people; And yet you do not correct nor bemoan yourself.
The Grand-Master Yin Is the foundation of our Kâu, And the balance of the kingdom is in his hands. He should be keeping its four quarters together; He should be aiding the Son of Heaven, So as to preserve the people from going astray. O unpitying great Heaven, It is not right he should reduce us all to such misery!
He does nothing himself personally, And the people have no confidence in him. Making no enquiry about them, and no trial of their services, He should not deal deceitfully with superior men. If he dismissed them on the requirement of justice, Mean men would not be endangering (the commonweal); And his mean relatives Would not be in offices of importance.
Great Heaven, unjust, Is sending down these exhausting disorders. Great Heaven, unkind, Is sending down these great miseries. Let superior men come (into office), And that would bring rest to the people’s hearts. Let superior men execute their justice, And the animosities and angers would disappear1 .
O unpitying great Heaven, There is no end to the disorder! With every month it continues to grow, So that the people have no repose. I am as if intoxicated with the grief of my heart. Who holds the ordering of the kingdom? He attends not himself to the government, And the result is toil and pain to the people.
I yoke my four steeds, My four steeds, long-necked. I look to the four quarters (of the kingdom); Distress is everywhere; there is no place I can drive to.
Now your evil is rampant2 , And I can see your spears. Anon you are pacified and friendly as if you were pledging one another.
From great Heaven is the injustice, And our king has no repose. (Yet) he will not correct his heart, And goes on to resent endeavours to rectify him.
I, Kiâ-fû, have made this poem, To lay bare the king’s disorders. If you would but change your heart, Then would the myriad regions be nourished.
Ode 8, Stanzas 4, 5, and 7.
The KĂng yüeh.
Look into the middle of the forest; There are (only) large faggots and small branches in it1 . The people now amidst their perils Look to Heaven, all dark; But let its determination be fixed, And there is no one whom it will not overcome. There is the great God,—Does he hate any one?
If one say of a hill that it is low, There are its ridges and its large masses. The false calumnies of the people,—How is it that you do not repress them2 ? You call those experienced ancients, You consult the diviner of dreams. They all say, ‘We are very wise, But who can distinguish the male and female crow3 ?’
Look at the rugged and stony field;—Luxuriantly rises in it the springing grain. (But) Heaven moves and shakes me, As if it could not overcome me4 . They sought me (at first) to be a pattern (to them), (Eagerly) as if they could not get me; (Now) they regard me with great animosity, And will not use my strength.
The Shih Yüeh kih Kiâo.
Attention is called in the Introduction, p. 296, to the date of the solar eclipse mentioned in this piece.
At the conjunction (of the sun and moon) in the tenth month, On the first day of the moon, which was hsin-mâo, The sun was eclipsed, A thing of very evil omen. Before, the moon became small, And now the sun became small. Henceforth the lower people Will be in a very deplorable case.
The sun and moon announce evil, Not keeping to their proper paths. Throughout the kingdom there is no (proper) government, Because the good are not employed. For the moon to be eclipsed Is but an ordinary matter. Now that the sun has been eclipsed,—How bad it is!
Grandly flashes the lightning of the thunder. There is a want of rest, a want of good. The streams all bubble up and overflow. The crags on the hill-tops fall down. High banks become valleys; Deep valleys become hills. Alas for the men of this time! How does (the king) not stop these things?
Hwang-fû is the President; Fan is the Minister of Instruction; Kiâ-po is the (chief) Administrator; Kung-yün is the chief Cook; Ȝâu is the Recorder of the Interior; Khwei is Master of the Horse; Yü is Captain of the Guards; And the beautiful wife blazes, now in possession of her place1 .
This Hwang-fû Will not acknowledge that he is acting out of season. But why does he call us to move, Without coming and consulting with us? He has removed our walls and roofs; And our fields are all either a marsh or a moor. He says, ‘I am not injuring you; The laws require that thus it should be.’
Hwang-fû is very wise; He has built a great city for himself in Hsiang. He chose three men as his ministers, All of them possessed of great wealth. He could not bring himself to leave a single minister, Who might guard our king. He (also) selected those who had chariots and horses, To go and reside in Hsiang2 .
I have exerted myself to discharge my service, And do not dare to make a report of my toils. Without crime or offence of any kind, Slanderous mouths are loud against me. (But) the calamities of the lower people. Do not come down from Heaven. A multitude of (fair) words, and hatred behind the back;—The earnest, strong pursuit of this is from men.
Distant far is my village, And my dissatisfaction is great. In other quarters there is ease, And I dwell here, alone and sorrowful. Everybody is going into retirement, And I alone dare not seek rest. The ordinances of Heaven are inexplicable, But I will not dare to follow my friends, and leave my post.
Ode 10, Stanzas 1 and 3.
The Yü Wû KĂng.
Great and wide Heaven, How is it you have contracted your kindness, Sending down death and famine, Destroying all through the kingdom? Compassionate Heaven, arrayed in terrors, How is it you exercise no forethought, no care? Let alone the criminals:—They have suffered for their guilt. But those who have no crime. Are indiscriminately involved in ruin.
How is it, O great Heaven, That the king will not hearken to the justest words? He is like a man going (astray), Who knows not where he will proceed to. All ye officers, Let each of you attend to his duties. How do ye not stand in awe of one another? Ye do not stand in awe of Heaven.
The Fifth Decade, or that of Hsiâo Min.
Ode 1, Stanzas 1, 2, and 3.
The Hsiâo Min.
This is referred, like several of the pieces in the fourth decade, to the time of king Yû.
The angry terrors of compassionate Heaven Extend through this lower world. (The king’s) counsels and plans are crooked and bad; When will he stop (in his course)? Counsels that are good he will not follow, And those that are not good he employs. When I look at his counsels and plans, I am greatly pained.
Now they agree, and now they defame one another;—The case is greatly to be deplored. If a counsel be good, They are all found opposing it. If a counsel be bad, They are all found according with it. When I look at such counsels and plans, What will they come to?
Our tortoise-shells are wearied out, And will not tell us anything about the plans. The counsellors are very many, But on that account nothing is accomplished. The speakers fill the court, But who dares to take any responsibility on himself? We are as if we consulted (about a journey) without taking a step in advance, And therefore did not get on on the road.
Ode 2, Stanzas 1 and 2.
The Hsiâo Yüan.
Small is the cooing dove, But it flies aloft to heaven. My heart is wounded with sorrow, And I think of our forefathers. When the dawn is breaking, and I cannot sleep, The thoughts in my breast are of our parents.
Men who are grave and wise, Though they drink, are mild and masters of themselves; But those who are benighted and ignorant Become devoted to drink, and more so daily. Be careful, each of you, of your deportment; What Heaven confers, (when once lost), is not regained1 .
The greenbeaks come and go, Picking up grain about the stackyard. Alas for the distressed and the solitary, Deemed fit inmates for the prisons! With a handful of grain I go out and divine2 , How I may be able to become good.
Ode 3, Stanzas 1 and 3.
The Hsiâo Pan.
It is allowed that this piece is clearly the composition of a banished son, and there is no necessity to call in question the tradition preserved in the Preface which prefers it to Î-khiû, the eldest son of king Yû. His mother was a princess of the House of Shăn; but when Yû became enamoured of Sze of Pâo, the queen was degraded, and the son banished to Shăn.
With flapping wings the crows. Come back, flying all in a flock1 . Other people are happy, And I only am full of misery. What is my offence against Heaven? What is my crime? My heart is sad;—What is to be done?
Even the mulberry trees and the rottleras. Must be regarded with reverence2 ; But no one is to be looked up to like a father, No one is to be depended on as a mother. Have I not a connexion with the hairs (of my father)? Did I not dwell in the womb (of my mother)? O Heaven, who gave me birth! How was it at so inauspicious a time?
Ode 4, Stanza 1.
The Khiâo Yen.
This piece has been referred to the time of king Lî, bc 878 to 828.
O vast and distant Heaven, Who art called our parent, That, without crime or offence, I should suffer from disorders thus great! The terrors of great Heaven are excessive, But indeed I have committed no crime. (The terrors of) great Heaven are very excessive, But indeed I have committed no offence.
Ode 6, Stanzas 5 and 6.
The Hsiang Po.
The proud are delighted, And the troubled are in sorrow. O azure Heaven! O azure Heaven! Look on those proud men, Pity those who are troubled.
Those slanderers! Who devised their schemes for them? I would take those slanderers, And throw them to wolves and tigers. If these refused to devour them, I would cast them into the north1 . If the north refused to receive them, I would throw them into the hands of great (Heaven)2 .
The Tâ Tung.
I give the whole of this piece, because it is an interesting instance of Sabian views. The writer, despairing of help from men, appeals to Heaven; but he distributes the Power that could help him among many heavenly bodies, supposing that there are spiritual beings in them, taking account of human affairs.
Well loaded with millet were the dishes, And long and curved were the spoons of thorn-wood. The way to Kâu was like a whetstone, And straight as an arrow. (So) the officers trod it, And the common people looked on it. When I look back and think of it, My tears run down in streams.
In the states of the east, large and small, The looms are empty. Then shoes of dolichos fibre Are made to serve to walk on the hoar-frost. Slight and elegant gentlemen1 . Walk along that road to Kâu. Their going and coming makes my heart sad.
Ye cold waters, issuing variously from the spring, Do not soak the firewood I have cut. Sorrowful I awake and sigh;—Alas for us toiled people! The firewood has been cut;—Would that it were conveyed home! Alas for us the toiled people! Would that we could have rest1 !
The sons of the east. Are summoned only (to service), without encouragement; While the sons of the west Shine in splendid dresses. The sons of boatmen. Have furs of the bear and grisly bear. The sons of the poorest families. Form the officers in public employment.
If we present them with spirits, They regard them as not fit to be called liquor. If we give them long girdle pendants with their stones, They do not think them long enough.
Although they go through their seven stages, They complete no bright work for us. Brilliant shine the Draught Oxen4 , But they do not serve to draw our carts. In the east there is Lucifer5 ; In the west there is Hesperus ; Long and curved is the Rabbit Net of the sky1 ;—But they only occupy their places.
In the south is the Sieve2 , But it is of no use to sift. In the north is the Ladle3 , But it lades out no liquor. In the south is the Sieve, Idly showing its mouth. In the north is the Ladle, Raising its handle in the west.
The Sixth Decade, or that of Pei Shan.
Ode 3, Stanzas 1, 4, and 5.
The Hsiâo Ming.
O bright and high Heaven, Who enlightenest and rulest this lower world! I marched on this expedition to the west, As far as this wilderness of Khiû. From the first day of the second month, I have passed through the cold and the heat. My heart is sad; The poison (of my lot) is too bitter. I think of those (at court) in their offices, And my tears flow down like rain. Do I not wish to return? But I fear the net for crime.
Ah! ye gentlemen, Do not reckon on your rest being permanent. Quietly fulfil the duties of your offices, Associating with the correct and upright; So shall the spirits hearken to you, And give you good.
Ah! ye gentlemen, Do not reckon on your repose being permanent. Quietly fulfil the duties of your offices, Loving the correct and upright; So shall the spirits hearken to you, And give you large measures of bright happiness.
The Khû Ȝhze.
See the remarks on the Services of the Ancestral Temple, pp. 300, 301.
Thick grew the tribulus (on the ground), But they cleared away its thorny bushes. Why did they this of old? That we might plant our millet and sacrificial millet; That our millet might be abundant, And our sacrificial millet luxuriant. When our barns are full, And our stacks can be counted by tens of myriads, We proceed to make spirits and prepared grain, For offerings and sacrifice. We seat the representatives of the dead, and urge them to eat1 :—Thus seeking to increase our bright happiness.
With correct and reverent deportment, The bulls and rams all pure, We proceed to the winter and autumnal sacrifices. Some flay (the victims); some cook (their flesh); Some arrange (the meat); some adjust (the pieces of it). The officer of prayer sacrifices inside the temple gate1 , And all the sacrificial service is complete and brilliant. Grandly come our progenitors; Their spirits happily enjoy the offerings; Their filial descendant receives blessing:—They will reward him with great happiness, With myriads of years, life without end.
They attend to the furnaces with reverence; They prepare the trays, which are very large;—Some for the roast meat, some for the broiled. Wives presiding are still and reverent2 , Preparing the numerous (smaller) dishes. The guests and visitors3 Present the cup all round4 . Every form is according to rule; Every smile and word are as they should be. The spirits quietly come, And respond with great blessings,—Myriads of years as the (fitting) reward.
We are very much exhausted, And have performed every ceremony without error. The able officer of prayer announces (the will of the spirits)1 , And goes to the filial descendant to convey it :—‘Fragrant has been your filial sacrifice, And the spirits have enjoyed your spirits and viands. They confer on you a hundred blessings; Each as it is desired, Each as sure as law. You have been exact and expeditious; You have been correct and careful; They will ever confer on you the choicest favours, In myriads and tens of myriads.’
The ceremonies having thus been completed, And the bells and drums having given their warning2 , The filial descendant goes to his place3 , And the able officer of prayer makes his announcement, ‘The spirits have drunk to the full.’ The great representatives of the dead then rise, And the bells and drums escort their withdrawal, (On which) the spirits tranquilly return (to whence they came)4 . All the servants, and the presiding wives, Remove (the trays and dishes) without delay. The (sacrificer’s) uncles and cousins. All repair to the private feast1 .
The musicians all go in to perform, And give their soothing aid at the second blessing2 . Your3 viands are set forth; There is no dissatisfaction, but all feel happy. They drink to the full, and eat to the full; Great and small, they bow their heads, (saying), ‘The spirits enjoyed your spirits and viands, And will cause you to live long. Your sacrifices, all in their seasons, Are completely discharged by you. May your sons and your grandsons. Never fail to perpetuate these services!’
The Hsin Nan Shan.
The Preface refers this piece to the reign of king Yû; but there is nothing in it to suggest the idea of its having been made in a time of disorder and misgovernment. ‘The distant descendant’ in the first stanza is evidently the principal in the sacrifice of the last two stanzas:—according to Kû, a noble or great landholder in the royal domain; according to others, some one of the kings of Kâu. I incline myself to this latter view. The three pieces, of which this is the middle one, seem all to be royal odes. The mention of ‘the southern hill’ strongly confirms this view.
Yes, (all about) that southern hill. Was made manageable by Yü1 . Its plains and marshes being opened up, It was made into fields by the distant descendant. We define their boundaries, We form their smaller divisions, And make the acres lie, here to the south, there to the east.
The heavens overhead are one arch of clouds, Snowing in multitudinous flakes; There is super-added the drizzling rain. When (the land) has received the moistening, Soaking influence abundantly, It produces all our kinds of grain.
The boundaries and smaller divisions are nicely adjusted, And the millets yield abundant crops, The harvest of the distant descendant. We proceed to make therewith spirits and food, To supply our representatives of the departed, and our guests;—To obtain long life, extending over myriads of years.
In the midst of the fields are the huts2 , And along the bounding divisions are gourds. The fruit is sliced and pickled, To be presented to our great ancestors, That their distant descendant may have long life, And receive the blessing of Heaven1 .
We sacrifice (first) with clear spirits, And then follow with a red bull; Offering them to our ancestors, (Our lord) holds the knife with tinkling bells, To lay open the hair of the victim, And takes the blood and fat2 .
Then we present, then we offer; All round the fragrance is diffused. Complete and brilliant is the sacrificial service; Grandly come our ancestors. They will reward (their descendant) with great blessing, Long life, years without end.
The Phû Thien.
It is difficult to say who the ‘I’ in the piece is, but evidently he and the ‘distant descendant’ are different persons. I suppose he may have been an officer, who had charge of the farms, as we may call them, in the royal domain.
Bright are those extensive fields, A tenth of whose produce is annually levied3 . I take the old stores, And with them feed the husbandmen. From of old we have had good years; And now I go to the south-lying acres, Where some are weeding, and some gather the earth about the roots. The millets look luxuriant; And in a spacious resting-place, I collect and encourage the men of greater promise1 .
With my vessels full of bright millet, And my pure victim-rams, We sacrificed at the altar of the spirits of the land, and at (the altars of those of the four) quarters2 . That my fields are in such good condition. Is matter of joy to the husbandmen. With lutes, and with drums beating, We will invoke the Father of Husbandry3 , And pray for sweet rain, To increase the produce of our millets, And to bless my men and their wives.
The distant descendant comes, When their wives and children. Are bringing food to those (at work) in the south-lying acres. The surveyor of the fields (also) comes and is glad. He takes (of the food) on the left and the right, And tastes whether it be good or not. The grain is well cultivated, all the acres over; Good will it be and abundant. The distant descendant has no displacency; The husbandmen are encouraged to diligence.
The crops of the distant descendant Look (thick) as thatch, and (swelling) like a carriage-cover. His stacks will stand like islands and mounds. He will seek for thousands of granaries; He will seek for tens of thousands of carts. The millets, the paddy, and the maize. Will awake the joy of the husbandmen; (And they will say), ‘May he be rewarded with great happiness, With myriads of years, life without end!’
The Tâ Thien.
Large are the fields, and various is the work to be done. Having selected the seed, and looked after the implements, So that all preparations have been made for our labour, We take our sharp plough-shares, And commence on the south-lying acres. We sow all the kinds of grain, Which grow up straight and large, So that the wish of the distant descendant is satisfied.
It ears and the fruit lies soft in its sheath; It hardens and is of good quality; There is no wolf’s-tail grass nor darnel. We remove the insects that eat the heart and the leaf, And those that eat the roots and the joints, So that they shall not hurt the young plants of our fields. May the spirit, the Father of Husbandry1 , Lay hold of them, and put them in the blazing fire!
The clouds form in dense masses, And the rain comes down slowly. May it first rain on our public fields1 , And then come to our private ! Yonder shall be young grain unreaped, And here some bundles ungathered; Yonder shall be handfuls left on the ground, And here ears untouched:—For the benefit of the widow2 .
The distant descendant will come, When their wives and children. Are bringing food to those (at work) on the south-lying acres. The surveyor of the fields (also) will come and be glad. They will come and offer pure sacrifices to (the spirits of the four) quarters, With their victims red and black3 , With their preparations of millet:—Thus offering, thus sacrificing, Thus increasing our bright happiness.
The Seventh Decade, or that of Sang Hû.
Ode 1, Stanza 1.
The Sang Hû.
Ode 6, Stanzas 1 and 2.
The Pin kih khû yen.
There are good grounds for referring the authorship of this piece to duke Wû of Wei (bc 812 to 758), who played an important part in the kingdom, during the affairs which terminated in the death of king Yû, and the removal of the capital from Hâo to Lo. The piece, we may suppose, is descriptive of things as they were at the court of king Yû.
When the guests first approach the mats2 , They take their places on the left and the right in an orderly manner. The dishes of bamboo and wood are arranged in rows, With the sauces and kernels displayed in them. The spirits are mild and good, And they drink, all equally reverent. The bells and drums are properly arranged3 , And they raise their pledge-cups with order and ease4 . (Then) the great target is set up; The bows and arrows are made ready for the shooting. The archers are arranged in classes; ‘Show your skill in shooting,’ (it is said by one). ‘I shall hit that mark’ (is the response), ‘And pray you to drink the cup1 .’
The dancers move with their flutes to the notes of the organ and drum, While all the instruments perform in harmony. All this is done to please the meritorious ancestors, Along with the observance of all ceremonies. When all the ceremonies have been fully performed, Grandly and fully, (The personators of the dead say), ‘We confer on you great blessings, And may your descendants also be happy!’ These are happy and delighted, And each of them exerts his ability. A guest2 draws the spirits; An attendant enters again with a cup, And fills it,—the cup of rest . Thus are performed your seasonal ceremonies3 .
The Eighth Decade, or that of Po Hwâ.
Ode 5, Stanzas 1 and 2.
The Po Hwâ.
The fibres from the white-flowered rush. Are bound with the white grass1 . This man’s sending me away makes me dwell solitary.
[1 ] This line and the following show the power and value of the cultivation of friendship in affecting spiritual beings. That designation is understood in the widest sense.
[1 ] These dukes and former kings are all the ancestors of the royal House of Kâu, sacrificed to at the four seasons of the year.
[2 ] Here we have the response of the dukes and kings communicated to the sacrificing king by the individuals chosen to represent them at the service.
[3 ] The spirits here are, of course, those of the former dukes and kings.
[1 ] In the Official Book of Kâu, ch. 24, mention is made of the Diviner of Dreams and his duties:—He had to consider the season of the year when a dream occurred, the day of the cycle, and the then predominant influence of the two powers of nature. By the positions of the sun, moon, and planets in the zodiacal spaces he could determine whether any one of the six classes of dreams was lucky or unlucky. Those six classes were ordinary and regular dreams, terrible dreams, dreams of thought, dreams in waking, dreams of joy, and dreams of fear.
[2 ] The boy would have a sceptre, a symbol of dignity, to play with; the girl, a tile, the symbol of woman’s work, as, sitting with a tile on her knee, she twists the threads of hemp.
[3 ] That is, the red apron of a king and of the prince of a state.
[4 ] The woman has only to be obedient. That is her whole duty. The line does not mean, as it has been said, that ‘she is incapable of good or evil;’ but it is not her part to take the initiative even in what is good.
[1 ] The tortoise-and-serpent banner marked the presence in a host of its leader on a military expedition. On its field were the figures of tortoises, with snakes coiled round them. The falcon banners belonged to the commanders of the divisions of the host. They bore the figures of falcons on them.
[2 ] ‘The southern hill’ was also called the Kung-nan, and rose right to the south of the western capital of Kâu.
[1 ] In this stanza, as in the next and the last but one, the writer complains of Heaven, and charges it foolishly. He does so by way of appeal, however, and indicates the true causes of the misery of the kingdom,—the reckless conduct, namely, of the king and his minister.
[2 ] The parties spoken of here are the followers of the minister, ‘mean men,’ however high in place and great in power, now friendly, now hostile to one another.
[1 ] By introducing the word ‘only,’ I have followed the view of the older interpreters, who consider the forest, with merely some faggots and twigs left in it, to be emblematic of the ravages of oppressive government in the court and kingdom. Kû Hsî takes a different view of them:—‘In a forest you can easily distinguish the large faggots from the small branches, while Heaven appears unable to distinguish between the good and bad.’
[2 ] The calumnies that were abroad were as absurd as the assertion in line 1, and yet the king could not, or would not, see through them and repress them.
[3 ] This reference to the diviners of dreams is in derision of their pretensions.
[4 ] That is, the productive energy of nature manifests itself in the most unlikely places; how was it that ‘the great God, who hates no one,’ was contending so with the writer?
[1 ] We do not know anything from history of the ministers of Yû mentioned in this stanza. Hwang-fû appears to have been the leading minister of the government at the time when the ode was written, and, as appears from the next two stanzas, was very crafty, oppressive, and selfishly ambitious. The mention of ‘the chief Cook’ among the high ministers appears strange; but we shall find that functionary mentioned in another ode; and from history it appears that ‘the Cook,’ at the royal and feudal courts, sometimes played an important part during the times of Kâu. ‘The beautiful wife,’ no doubt, was the well-known Sze of Pâo, raised by king Yû from her position as one of his concubines to be his queen, and whose insane folly and ambition led to her husband’s death, and great and disastrous changes in the kingdom.
[2 ] Hsiang was a district of the royal domain, in the present district of Măng, department of Hwâi-khing, Ho-nan. It had been assigned to Hwang-fû, and he was establishing himself there, without any loyal regard to the king. As a noble in the royal domain, he was entitled only to two ministers, but he had appointed three as in one of the feudal states, encouraging, moreover, the resort to himself of the wealthy and powerful, while the court was left weak and unprotected.
[1 ] ‘What Heaven confers’ is, probably, the good human nature, which by vice, and especially by drunkenness, may be irretrievably ruined.
[2 ] A religious act is here referred to, on which we have not sufficient information to be able to throw much light. It was the practice to spread some finely ground rice on the ground, in connexion with divination, as an offering to the spirits. The poet represents himself here as using a handful of grain for the purpose,—probably on account of his poverty.
[1 ] The sight of the crows, all together, suggests to the prince his own condition, solitary and driven from court.
[2 ] The mulberry tree and the rottlera were both planted about the farmsteadings, and are therefore mentioned here. They carried the thoughts back to the father or grandfather, or the more remote ancestor, who first planted them, and so a feeling of reverence attached to themselves.
[1 ] ‘The north,’ i.e. the region where there are the rigours of winter and the barrenness of the desert.
[2 ] ‘Great Heaven;’ ‘Heaven’ has to be supplied here, but there is no doubt as to the propriety of doing so; and, moreover, the peculiar phraseology of the line shows that the poet did not rest in the thought of the material heavens.
[1 ] That is, ‘slight-looking,’ unfit for toil; and yet they are obliged to make their journey on foot.
[1 ] This stanza describes, directly or by symbol, the exactions from which the people of the east were suffering.
[2 ] ‘The Milky Way’ is here called simply the Han,=in the sky what the Han river is in China.
[3 ] ‘The Weaving Sisters, or Ladies,’ are three stars in Lyra, that form a triangle. To explain what is said of their passing through seven spaces, it is said: ‘The stars seem to go round the circumference of the heavens, divided into twelve spaces, in a day and night. They would accomplish six of them in a day; but as their motion is rather in advance of that of the sun, they have entered into the seventh space by the time it is up with them again.’
[4 ] ‘The Draught Oxen’ is the name of some stars in the neck of Aquila.
[5 ] Liû Î (Sung dynasty) says: ‘The metal star (Venus) is in the east in the morning, thus “opening the brightness of the day;” and it is in the west in the evening, thus “prolonging the day.” ’ The author of the piece, however, evidently took Lucifer and Hesperus to be two stars.
[1 ] ‘The Rabbit Net’ is the Hyades.
[2 ] ‘The Sieve’ is the name of one of the twenty-eight constellations of the zodiac,—part of Sagittarius.
[3 ] ‘The Ladle’ is the constellation next to ‘the Sieve,’—also part of Sagittarius.
[1 ] The poet hurries on to describe the sacrifices in progress. The persons selected to personate the departed were necessarily inferior in rank to the principal sacrificer, yet for the time they were superior to him. This circumstance, it was supposed, would make them feel uncomfortable; and therefore, as soon as they appeared in the temple, the director of the ceremonies instructed the sacrificer to ask them to be seated, and to place them at ease; after which they were urged to take some refreshment.
[1 ] The Kû, who is mentioned here, was evidently an officer, ‘one who makes or recites prayers.’ The sacrifice he is said to offer was, probably, a libation, the pouring out fragrant spirits, as a part of the general service, and likely to attract the hovering spirits of the departed, on their approach to the temple. Hence his act was performed just inside the gate.
[2 ] ‘Wives presiding,’ i. e. the wife of the sacrificer, the principal in the service, and other ladies of the harem. The dishes under their care, the smaller dishes, would be those containing sauces, cakes, condiments, &c.
[3 ] ‘The guests and visitors’ would be nobles and officers of different surnames from the sacrificer, chosen by divination to take part in the sacrificial service.
[4 ] ‘Present the cup all round’ describes the ceremonies of drinking, which took place between the guests and visitors, the representatives of the dead, and the sacrificer.
[1 ] The officer of prayer had in the first place obtained, or professed to have obtained, this answer of the progenitors from their personators.
[2 ] The music now announced that the sacrificial service in the temple was ended.
[3 ] The sacrificer, or principal in the service, now left the place which he had occupied, descended from the hall, and took his position at the foot of the steps on the east,—the place appropriate to him in dismissing his guests.
[4 ] Where did they return to? According to Kâng Hsüan, ‘To heaven.’
[1 ] These uncles and cousins were all present at the sacrifice, and of the same surname as the principal. The feast to them was to show his peculiar affection for his relatives.
[2 ] The feast was given in the apartment of the temple behind the hall where the sacrifice had been performed, so that the musicians are represented as going in to continue at the feast the music they had discoursed at the sacrifice.
[3 ] The transition to the second person here is a difficulty. We can hardly make the speech, made by some one of the guests on behalf of all the others, commence here. We must come to the conclusion that the ode was written, in compliment to the sacrificer, by one of the relatives who shared in the feast; and so here he addresses him directly.
[1 ] There is here a recognition of the work of the great Yü, as the real founder of the kingdom of China, extending the territory of former elective chiefs, and opening up the country. ‘The southern hill’ bounded the prospect to the south from the capital of Kâu, and hence the writer makes mention of it. He does not mean to confine the work of Yü to that part of the country; but, on the other hand, there is nothing in his language to afford a confirmation to the account given in the third Part of the Shû of that hero’s achievements.
[2 ] In every King, or space of 900 Chinese acres or mâu, assigned to eight families, there were in the centre 100 mâu of ‘public fields,’ belonging to the government, and cultivated by the husbandmen in common. In this space of 100 mâu, two mâu and a half were again assigned to each family, and on them were erected the huts in which they lived, while they were actively engaged in their agricultural labours.
[1 ] Here, as in so many other places, the sovereign Power, ruling in the lots of men, is referred to as Heaven.
[2 ] The fat was taken from the victim, and then burnt along with fragrant herbs, so as to form a cloud of incense. On the taking of the ‘blood,’ it is only said, that it was done to enable the sacrificer to announce that a proper victim had been slain.
[3 ] This line, literally, is, ‘Yearly are taken ten (and a) thousand;’ meaning the produce of ten acres in every hundred, and of a thousand in every ten thousand.
[1 ] The general rule was that the sons of husbandmen should continue husbandmen; but their superior might select those among them in whom he saw promising abilities, and facilitate their advancement to the higher grade of officers.
[2 ] The sacrifices here mentioned were of thanksgiving at the end of the harvest of the preceding year. The one was to ‘sovereign Earth,’ supposed to be the supreme Power in correlation with Heaven, or, possibly, to the spirits supposed to preside over the productive energies of the land; the other to the spirits presiding over the four quarters of the sky, and ruling all atmospherical influences.
[3 ] This was the sacrifice that had been, or was about to be, offered in spring to ‘the Father of Husbandry,’—probably the ancient mythical Tî, Shăn Năng.
[1 ] The ancient Shăn Năng, as in the preceding ode.
[1 ] These are two famous lines, continually quoted as showing the loyal attachment of the people to their superiors in those ancient times.
[2 ] Compare the legislation of Moses, in connexion with the harvest, for the benefit of the poor, in Deuteronomy xxiv. 19-22.
[3 ] They would not sacrifice to these spirits all at once, or all in one place, but in the several quarters as they went along on their progress through the domain. For each quarter the colour of the victim was different. A red victim was offered to the spirit of the south, and a black to that of the north.
[4 ] The greenbeaks appeared in the second ode of the fifth decade. The bird had many names, and a beautiful plumage, made use of here to compliment the princes on the elegance of their manners, and perhaps also the splendour of their equipages. The bird is here called the ‘mulberry Hû,’ because it appeared when the mulberry tree was coming into leaf.
[1 ] This line is to be understood, with Kû Hsî, as a prayer of the king to Heaven for his lords.
[2 ] The mats were spread on the floor, and also the viands of the feast. Chairs and tables were not used in that early time.
[3 ] The archery took place in the open court, beneath the hall or raised apartment, where the entertainment was given. Near the steps leading up to the hall was the regular place for the bells and drums, but it was necessary now to remove them more on one side, to leave the ground clear for the archers.
[4 ] The host first presented a cup to the guest, which the latter drank, and then he returned a cup to the host. After this preliminary ceremony, the company all drank to one another,—‘took up their cups,’ as it is here expressed.
[1 ] Each defeated archer was obliged to drink a large cup of spirits as a penalty.
[2 ] This guest was, it is supposed, the eldest of all the scions of the royal House present on the occasion. At this point, he presented a cup to the chief among the personators of the ancestors, and received one in return. He then proceeded to draw more spirits from one of the vases of supply, and an attendant came in and filled other cups,—we may suppose for all the other personators. This was called ‘the cup of repose or comfort;’ and the sacrifice was thus concluded,—in all sobriety and decency.
[3 ] The three stanzas that follow this, graphically descriptive of the drunken revel, are said to belong to the feast of the royal relatives that followed the conclusion of the sacrificial service, and is called ‘the second blessing’ in the sixth ode of the preceding decade. This opinion probably is correct; but as the piece does not itself say so, and because of the absence from the text of religious sentiments, I have not given the stanzas here.
[1 ] The stalks of the rush were tied with the grass in bundles, in order to be steeped;—an operation which ladies in those days might be supposed to be familiar with. The two lines suggest the idea of the close connexion between the two plants, and the necessariness of the one to the other;—as it should be between husband and wife.
[2 ] The clouds bestowed their dewy influence on the plants, while her husband neglected the speaker.
[3 ] ‘The way of Heaven’ is equivalent to our ‘The course of Providence.’ The lady’s words are, literally, ‘The steps of Heaven.’ She makes but a feeble wail; but in Chinese opinion discharges thereby, all the better, the duty of a wife.