This ode is given here, because it is commonly taken as a prelude to the next. Kû Hsî interprets it of the feast, given by, the
king, at the close of the sacrifice in the ancestral temple, to the princes of his own surname. There are difficulties in the interpretation of the piece on this view, which, however, is to be preferred to any other.
In thick patches are those rushes, Springing by the way-side:--Let not the cattle and sheep trample them. Anon they will grow up; anon they will be completely formed, With their leaves soft and glossy 1. Closely related are brethren; Let none be absent, let all be near. For some there are mats spread; For some there are given stools 2.
The mats are spread, and a second one above; The stools are given, and there are plenty of servants. (The guests) are pledged, and they pledge (the host) in return; He rinses the cups (and refills them, but the guests) put them down, Sauces and pickles are brought in, With roasted meat and broiled. Excellent provisions there are of tripe and palates; With singing to lutes, and with drums.
The ornamented bows are strong, And the four arrows are all balanced. They discharge the arrows, and all hit, And the guests are arranged according to their skill. The ornamented bows are drawn to the full, And the arrows are grasped in the hand. They go straight to the mark as if planted
in it, And the guests are arranged according to the humble propriety of their behaviour.
The distant descendant presides over the feast; His sweet spirits are strong. He fills their cups from a large vase, And prays for the hoary old (among his guests):--That with hoary age and wrinkled back, They may lead on one another (to virtue), and support one another (in it); That so their old age may be blessed, And their bright happiness ever increased.
400:1 In the rushes growing up densely from a common root we have an emblem of brothers all sprung from the same ancestor; and in the plants developing. so finely, when preserved from injury, an emblem of the happy fellowships of consanguinity, when nothing is allowed to interfere with mutual confidence and good, feeling.
400:2 In a previous note I have said that chairs and tables had not come into use in those early times. Guests sat and feasts were spread on mats on the floor; for the aged, however, stools were. placed on which they could lean forward.