This ode, like the ninth of the second decade, is attributed to duke Mû of Shâo. The structure of the piece is peculiar, for, after the first stanza, we have king Wăn introduced delivering a series of warnings to Kâu-hsin, the last king of the Shang dynasty. They are put into Wăn's mouth, in the hope that Lî, if, indeed, he was the monarch whom the writer had in view, would transfer the figure of Kâu-hsin to himself, and alter his course so as to avoid a similar ruin.
How vast is God, The ruler of men below! How arrayed in terrors is God, With many things irregular in his ordinations. Heaven gave birth to the multitudes of the people, But the nature it confers is not to be depended on. All are (good)
at first, But few prove themselves to be so at the last 1.
King Wăn said, 'Alas! Alas! you sovereign of Shang, That you should have such violently oppressive ministers, That you should have such extortionate exactors, That you should have them in offices, That you should have them in the conduct of affairs! "Heaven made them with their insolent dispositions;" But it is you who employ them, and give them strength.'
King Wăn said, 'Alas! Alas! you (sovereign of) Yin-shang, You ought to employ such as are good, But (you employ instead) violent oppressors, who cause many dissatisfactions. They respond to you with baseless stories, And (thus) robbers and thieves are in your court. Hence come oaths and curses, Without limit, without end.'
King Wăn said, 'Alas! Alas! you (sovereign of) Yin-shang, You show a strong fierce will in the centre of the kingdom, And consider the contracting of enmities a proof of virtue. All-unintelligent are you. Of your (proper) virtue, And so, you have no (good) men behind you, nor by your side. Without any intelligence of your (proper) virtue, You have no (good) intimate adviser or minister.'
King Wăn said, 'Alas! Alas! you (sovereign of) Yin-shang, It is not Heaven that flushes your face with spirits, So that you follow what is evil and imitate it. You go wrong in all your conduct; You make no distinction between the light and the
darkness; But amid clamour and shouting, You turn the day into night 1.'
King Wăn said, 'Alas! Alas! you (sovereign of) Yin-shang, (All round you) is like the noise of cicadas, Or like the bubbling of boiling soup. Affairs, great and small, are approaching to ruin, And still you (and your creatures) go on in this course. Indignation is rife against you here in the Middle Kingdom, And extends to the demon regions 2.'
King Wăn said, 'Alas! Alas! you (sovereign of) Yin-shang, It is not God that has caused this evil time, But it arises from Yin's not using the old (ways). Although you have not old experienced men, There are still the ancient statutes and laws. But you will not listen to them, And so your great appointment is being overthrown.'
King Wăn said, 'Alas! Alas! you (sovereign of) Shang, People have a saying, "When a tree falls utterly, While its branches and leaves are yet uninjured, It must first have been uprooted." The beacon of Yin is not far distant;--It is in the age of the (last) sovereign of Hsiâ.'
411:1 The meaning seems to be that, whatever miseries might prevail, and be ignorantly ascribed to God, they were in reality owing to men's neglect of the law of Heaven inscribed on their hearts.
412:1 We speak of 'turning night into day.' The tyrant of Shang turned day into night, Excesses, generally committed in darkness, were by him done openly.
412:2 These 'demon regions' are understood to mean the seat of the Turkic tribes to the north of China, known from the earliest times by various names-'The hill Zung,' 'the northern Lî,' 'the Hsien-yun,' &c. Towards the beginning of our era, they were called Hsiung-nû, from which, perhaps, came the name Huns; and some centuries later, Thû-küeh (Thuh-küeh), from which came Turk. We are told in the Yî, under the diagram Kî-kî, that Kâo Ȝung (B.C. 1324-1266) conducted an expedition against the demon regions, and in three years subdued them.