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p. 307



If this ode were not intended to do honour to Wû-ting, the Kâo Ȝung of Shang, we cannot account for the repeated mention of him in it. Kû Hsî, however, in his note on it, says nothing about Wû-ting, but simply that the piece belonged to the sacrifices in the ancestral temple, tracing back the line of the kings of Shang to its origin, and to its attaining the sovereignty of the kingdom. Not at all unlikely is the view of Kăng Hsüan, that the sacrifice was in the third year after the death of Wû-ting and offered to him in the temple of Hsieh, the ancestor of the Shang dynasty.

Heaven commissioned the swallow, To descend and give birth to (the father of our) Shang 1. (His descendants) dwelt in the land of Yin, and became great. (Then) long ago God appointed the martial Thang, To regulate the boundaries throughout the four quarters (of the kingdom).

(In those) quarters he appointed the princes, And grandly possessed the nine regions 2. The

p. 308

first sovereign of Shang 1 Received the appointment without any element of instability in it, And it is (now) held by the descendant of Wû-ting 2.

The descendant of Wû-ting Is a martial sovereign, equal to every emergency. Ten princes, (who came) with their dragon-emblazoned banners, Bear the large dishes of millet.

The royal domain of a thousand lî Is where the people rest; But the boundaries that reach to the four seas commence there.

From the four seas 3 they come (to our sacrifices); They come in multitudes. King has the Ho for its outer border 4. That Yin 5 should have received the appointment (of Heaven) was entirely right;--(Its sovereign) sustains all its dignities.


307:1 The father of Shang is Hsieh, who has already been mentioned. The mother of Hsieh was a daughter of the House of the ancient state of Sung, and a concubine of the ancient ruler Khû (B.C. 2435). According to Mâo, she accompanied Khû, at the time of the vernal equinox, when the swallow made its appearance, to sacrifice and pray to the first match-maker, and the result was the birth of Hsieh. Sze-mâ Khien and Kăng make Hsieh's birth more marvellous:--The lady was bathing in some open place, when a swallow made its appearance, and dropt an egg, which she took and swallowed; and from this came Hsieh. The editors of the imperial edition of the Shih, of the present dynasty, say we need not believe the legends;--the important point is to believe that the birth of Hsieh was specially ordered by Heaven.

307:2 'The nine regions' are the nine provinces into which Yü divided the kingdom.

308:1 That is, Thang.

308:2 If this ode were used, as Kăng supposes, in the third year after Wû-ting's death, this 'descendant' would be his son Zû-kang, B.C. 1265 to 1259.

308:3 This expression, which occurs also in the Shû, indicates that the early Chinese believed that their country extended to the sea, east, west, north, and south.

308:4 Kû Hsî Says he did not understand this line; but there is ground in the Ȝo Kwan for our believing that King was the name of a hill in the region where the capital of Shang was.

308:5 We saw in the Shû that the name Shang gave place to Yin after the time of Pan-kăng, B.C. 1401 to 1374. Wû-ting's reign was subsequent to that of Pan-kăng.

Next: Ode 4. The Khang Fâ