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

p. 396


The Sang Jou; metaphorical, narrative, and allusive. The earl of Jui mourns over the disorder and misery of the times, with a view to reprehend the misgovernment of King Li,—especially his oppressions and listening to bad counselors.

1See the luxuriant mulberry tree,
  That threw far round its leafy shade,
Now by rude hands—sad sight to see!
  Stript of its leaves, a ruin made.
So on our multitudes descends
  Oppression's fierce and ruthless hand.
My heart beneath its sorrow bends.
  Great Heaven, take pity on the land!

2Eager and strong, the war steeds prance;
  Falcon and other banners fly.
Bristles the land with spear and lance;
  Wasted and peeled our regions lie.
Disorder grows, and peace is fled; .
  Where is the black-haired race of yore?
Beneath the sky with ruin red
  Chou's kingdom sinks to rise no more. p. 397

3Who can arrest the march of fate?
  Heaven nurtures not, but glows with ire.
No town presents a sheltering gate;
  Where can our hurrying feet retire?
When good men, sons of peace, bear sway,
  They smooth and knit the social state.
They are not here;—who paved the way
  For those through whom come strife and hate?

4Sore anguish dwells within my heart;
  I brood upon the country's woes.
Why was I born to have my part
  Now when great Heaven its anger shows?
Throughout our coasts, from east to west,
  No quiet resting place is found.
I wander, desolate, distressed,
  And troubles rave our borders round.

5You plan, O king, and caution use?
  Lo! growing ills, dismembered land! p. 398
Your great concern should be to choose
  The best, around your throne to stand.
Be this your way! What burns and glows,
  Ere used, you in the water cool.
How can your methods bring repose?
  Ruin awaits you, and your rule.

6One struggles on against the wind,
  With breathless effort,—all in vain.
So they who fain would serve thee find
  A baffling force, and little gain.
They till the fields who might have shone
  High in official rank and power;
For now, ambition's impulse gone,
  They sow and reap, and seek no more.

7Heaven thus inflicts death and unrest;
  And lo! we see a kingless throne!
And still there comes the insect pest,
  And farmers’ hopes are overthrown. p. 399
Woe! woe to our great central land!
  For all in peril heaves my sigh.
Bereft of strength, I sadly stand,
  And silent view the vault on high.

8See here a ruler, firm and good,
  Whom chiefs and people all revere!
He keeps his heart; his plans are shrewd;
  He seeks for helpers far and near.
See there one of a different kind,
  Who thinks none but himself is wise!
Within his narrow range confined,
  His actions only cause surprise.

9Lo! ’mongst the trees, the herds of deer
  In concord roam throughout the wood.
With us all friends are insincere;
  None cultivate the faithful mood.
"Advance! Retreat!" thus people say;
"There's equal danger either way." p. 400

10Here is a sage! His views and speech
  Go far beyond the present time.
There is a fool! With narrow reach,
  His smallest thoughts he counts sublime.
All this before I could have told.
  Oh! why did fear my tongue withhold?

11The good man see! His way is barred;
  He pines unused, or dwells unsought.
See now the man whose heart is hard!
  He's courted, and to honor brought.
Such government disorder breeds;
  The people haste to evil deeds.

12From the large valleys come the winds;
  There they collect, and thence they blow.
And thus the virtuous man one finds
  Doing what's good;—he must act so.
But he, whose nature scorns the right,
  His nature vile, ’gainst good will fight.

13By force of nature blows the wind;
  So men of greed will strive for pelf.
Would he but hear, I'd speak my mind;—
  As drunk, I mutter to myself. p. 401
He will not use the good; and I
  Deplore his course with moan and sigh.

14Ah! friends, these lines, I know full well,
  Will only wake your angry thought;
But random shot may sometimes tell,
  And bird on wing be hit and caught.
Your good, and that alone, I seek,
  Howe’er your anger you may wreak.

15Those hypocrites, adepts in lies,
  Produce the chaos of the land.
The more one's weak, the more he plies
  Whatever strength he can command.
The people hopelessly perverse!
  ’Tis their vile work has wrought this curse.

16The people show unrest, because
  Those artful villains on them prey.
They listen to you with applause;
  Behind your back what's bad they say.
Ah! friends, these charges you deny.
  My song is true! It does not lie.

Next: IV. Yün Han