There are good grounds for referring the authorship of this piece to duke Wû of Wei (B.C. 812 to 7 58), 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 mats 2, 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 arranged 3, And they raise their pledge-cups with order and ease 4. (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 cup 1'.
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 guest 2 draws the spirits; An attendant enters again with a cup, And fills it,--the cup of rest 2. Thus are performed your seasonal ceremonies 3.
374:2 The mats were spread on the floor, and also the viands of the feast. Chairs and tables were not used in that early time.
374:3 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.
374:4 The host first presented a cup to the guest, which the latter drank, and then be returned a cup to the host. After this preliminary p. 375 ceremony, the company all drank to one another,--'took up their cups,' as it is here expressed.
375:1 Each defeated archer was obliged to drink a large cup of spirits as a penalty.
375:2 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.
375:3 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.