Sacred Texts  Confucianism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Book of Filial Duty, by Ivan Chen, [1908], at


On hearing the Thunder he wept at the Tomb

In the country of Wei lived Wang P‘ou, a very dutiful child, whose mother, when alive, was much afraid of thunder. After her death her grave was dug in the hilly forest; and whenever it blew and rained furiously, and Wang heard the sound of the chariot of the Thunder-goddess rolling along, he hastened immediately to the grave, and, reverently kneeling, besought her with tears, saying: "I am here, dear mother; do not be alarmed." And afterwards, whenever he read in The Book of Odes this sentence, "Children should have deep and ardent affection for their parents, who have endured so much anxiety in nourishing them," the tears flowed abundantly at the recollection of his mother.

Suddenly the black clouds arise from the wilderness, whirled by the wind; he hears the distant mutter of thunder from the southern hills. Heedless of the rain, hastily he speeds over the rugged path leading to the tomb, and as he goes round the grave his tones of grief and entreaty are heard. The roaring of the dreadful thunder affrights the ears of men, one clap following another in quick succession. If his kind mother,

p. 54

when alive, always dreaded the voice of Heaven's majesty, how much more will she now, when lying alone in the depths of the wild forest! If P‘ou was with his mother, he knew she would be comforted; and he thinks that if in the green hills she has a companion, she will not be terrified. Afterwards, being successful, he refused to take the duties of an officer under the Emperor Ssŭ-ma, because he wished to go frequently to visit the grave of his parent. And when he was going and returning from it, he would weep at the recollection of his mother, and ask himself: "If I have not yet recompensed the care and trouble my mother endured for me, what more can I do?" And to this day, whenever scholars read the pages of the Liu O, they remember how tears bedewed the cheeks of Wang P‘ou.

Next: No. XVIII: He wept to the Bamboos, and Shoots sprang up