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The Book of Poetry, tr. by James Legge, [1876], at

p. 331



Book I. Decade of King Wên


The Wên Wang; narrative. Celebrating King Wên, dead and alive, as the founder of the dynasty of Chou, showing how his virtues drew to him the favoring regard of Heaven, and made him a bright pattern to his descendants and their ministers.

1The royal Wên now rests on high,
Enshrined in brightness of the sky.
Chou as a state had long been known,
And Heaven's decree at last was shown.
Its lords had borne a glorious name;
God kinged them when the season came.
King Wên ruled well when earth he trod;
Now moves his spirit near to God.

2A strong-willed, earnest king was Wên,
And still his fame rolls widening on. p. 332
The gifts that God bestowed on Chou
Belong to Wên's descendants now.
Heaven blesses still with gifts divine
The hundred scions of his line;
And all the officers of Chou
From age to age more lustrous grow.

3More lustrous still-from age to age,
All reverent plans their zeal engage;
And brilliant statesmen owe their birth
To this much.-favored spot of earth.
They spring like products of the land,—
The men by whom the realm doth stand.
Such aid their numerous bands supply,
That Wan, rests tranquilly on high.

4Deep were Wên's thoughts, sustained his ways;
His reverence lit its trembling rays.
Resistless came great Heaven's decree;
The sons of Shang must bend the knee;— p. 333
The sons of Shang, each one a king,
In numbers beyond numbering.
Yet as God spoke, so must it be:—
The sons of Shang all bent the knee.

5Now each to Chou his homage pays,—
So dark and changing are Heaven's ways.
When we pour our libations here,
The officers of Shang appear,
Quick and alert to give their aid;—
Such is the service by them paid,
While still, they do not cast aside
The cap and broidered ax,—their pride.
Ye servants of our line of kings,
Remember him from whom it springs.

6Remember him from whom it springs;—
Let this give to your virtue wings.
Seek harmony with Heaven's great mind;—
So shall you surest blessing find.
Ere Shang had lost the nation's heart,
Its monarchs all with God had part
In sacrifice. From them you see
’Tis hard to keep high Heaven's decree. p. 334

7’Tis hard to keep high Heaven's decree!
O sin not, or you cease to be.
To add true luster to your name,
See Shang expire in Heaven's dread flame.
For Heaven's high dealings are profound,
And far transcend all sense and sound.
From Wên your pattern you must draw,
And all the states will own your law.

Next: II. Ta Ming