The composition of this and the other pieces of this decade is attributed to the duke of Kâu, king Wăn's son, and was intended by him for the benefit of his nephew, the young king Khăng. Wăn, it must be borne in mind, was never actually king of China. He laid the foundations of the kingly power, which was established by his son king Wû, and consolidated by the duke of Kâu. The title of king was given to him and to others by the duke, according to the view of filial piety, that has been referred to on p. 299.
King Wăn is on high. Oh! bright is he in heaven. Although Kâu was an old country, The (favouring) appointment lighted on it recently 1. Illustrious was the House of Kâu, And the
appointment of God came at the proper season. King Wăn ascends and descends On the left and the right of God 1.
Full of earnest activity was king Wăn, And his fame is without end. The gifts (of God) to Kâu Extend to the descendants of king Wăn, In the direct line and the collateral branches for a hundred generations 2. All the officers of Kâu Shall (also) be illustrious from age to age.
They shall be illustrious from age to age, Zealously and reverently pursuing their plans. Admirable are the many officers, Born in this royal kingdom. The royal kingdom is able to produce them, The supporters of (the House of) Kâu. Numerous is the array of officers, And by them king Wăn enjoys his repose.
Profound was king Wăn; Oh! continuous and bright was his feeling of reverence. Great is the appointment of Heaven! There were the descendants of (the sovereigns of) Shang 3--The descendants of the sovereigns of Shang Were in number more
than hundreds of thousands. But when God gave the command, They became subject to Kâu.
They became subject to Kâu, (For) the appointment of Heaven is not unchangeable. The officers of Yin, admirable and alert, Assist at the libations in our capital 1. They assist at those libations, Always wearing the hatchet-figures on their lower garments and their peculiar cap 2. O ye loyal ministers of the king, Ever think of your ancestor!
Ever think of your ancestor, Cultivating your virtue, Always seeking to accord with the will (of Heaven):--So shall you be seeking for much happiness, Before Yin lost the multitudes, (Its kings) were the correlates of God 3. Look to Yin as a beacon; The great appointment is not easily preserved.
The appointment is not easily (preserved):--Do not cause your own extinction. Display and make bright your righteousness and fame, And look at (the fate of) Yin in the light of Heaven. The doings of high Heaven Have neither sound nor
smell 1. Take your pattern from king Wăn, And the myriad regions will repose confidence in you.
377:1 The family of Kâu, according to its traditions, was very ancient, but it did not. occupy the territory of Kâu, from which it subsequently took its name, till B.C. 1326; and it was not till the time of Wăn (B.C. 1231 to 1135) that the divine purpose concerning its supremacy in the kingdom was fully manifested.
378:1 According to Kû Hsî, the first and last two lines of this stanza are to be taken of the spirit of Wăn in heaven. Attempts have been made to explain them otherwise, or rather to explain them away. But language could not more expressly intimate the existence of a supreme personal God, and the continued existence of the human spirit.
378:2 The text, literally, is, 'The root and the branches:' the root (and stem) denoting the eldest sons, by the recognised queen, succeeding to the throne; and the branches, the other sons by the queen and concubines. The former would grow up directly from the root; and the latter, the chief nobles of the kingdom, would constitute the branches of the great Kâu tree.
378:3 The Shang or Yin dynasty of kings superseded by Kâu.
379:1 These officers of Yin would be the descendants of the Yin kings and of their principal nobles, scions likewise of the, Yin stock. They would assist, at the court of Kâu, at the services in the ancestral temple, which began with a libation of fragrant spirits to bring down the spirits of the departed.
379:2 These, differing from the dress worn by the representatives of the ruling House, were still worn by the officers of Yin or Shang, by way of honour, and also by way of warning.
379:3 There was God in heaven hating none, desiring the good of all the people; there were the sovereigns on earth, God's vicegerents, maintained by him so long as they carried out in their government his purpose of good.
380:1 These two lines are quoted in the last paragraph of the Doctrine of the Mean, as representing the ideal of perfect virtue. They are indicative of Power, operating silently, and not to be perceived by the senses, but resistless in its operations.