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The Book of Poetry, tr. by James Legge, [1876], at

p. 239


The Chêng Yüeh; narrative, allusive, and metaphorical. A lamentation over the miseries of the kingdom, and the ruin coming on it, all through the king's employment of worthless creatures, and his indulgence of his favorite Pao Ssŭ.

1On the brow of the summer the hoarfrost abounds;
  Sorrow's wound rankles deep in my heart,
And calumnies base, that the people perplex,
  Daily waxing, inflict sharper smart.
All alone I am placed, none by me to stand;
  Griefs intense more and more fill my breast.
Cares increase and disturb my sorrowful mind;
  Both in body and soul I'm distressed.

2O father and mother who bore me, your son,
  Was it only to suffer such woe?
Why was I not born ere these evils arrived?
  Or why came they ere I am laid low?
I hear their good words, which are but from the lip,
  And their bad words have no deeper seat.
So shallow those men! And the more that I grieve,
  With their fiercer contempt do I meet. p. 240

3With the pang of great misery wringing my heart,
  Dwell I thus on this comfortless time;
For the multitudes all will with me be brought
  To base servitude, guiltless of crime.
And alas for us all in positions more high!
  From what lord shall I now get support?
No more can I tell than,—see yonder a crow!
  Can I tell to whose house ’twill resort.

4Where the forest once grew, we look, and behold!!
  Fagots only and twiglets are left.
To Heaven ’midst their perils, the people all look,
  And lo! Heaven seems of reason bereft.
But is Heaven so dark? When its purpose is fixed,
  To its will opposition is vain.
And good is the Ruler supreme, the great God!
  He hates none of the children of men.

5’Tis only fools say that the mountains are low;—,
  ’Gainst such words each high ridge would protest.
And as baseless the talk that is uttered by men, p. 241
  But the king lets it fly unrepressed.
To ministers old and diviners of dreams
  For advice he repairs, but they say,
"We are wise; but of crows which is female, which male,
  To pronounce who can tell you the way?"

6That the heavens are lofty who is there but knows?
  Yet beneath them I bow my head low,
And that thick is the earth who is there but feels?
  Yet with dainty steps on it I go.
For thus speaking and acting good reason I have,
  In the conduct of many around,
Who originate all those calumnies base,
  Like the cobra or eft fatal found.

7Where the fields are rugged and stony, the grain
  Yet luxuriantly rises and grows.
Heaven fights against me as if I were its match,
  Moves and shakes me, and then overthrows. p. 242
As if I were hidden, they sought me at first,
  At the court for a pattern to shine.
’Tis with hatred intense they scowl now on me,
  And my services curtly decline.

8With its sorrow my heart is deeply oppressed;
  ’Tis as if with tight string it were bound.
Nowadays those who rule no kindness display;
  Fierce oppression prevails all around.
Blazing flames that spread wide, and terror inspire,
  May perhaps still be quenched at their height.
But our city august, where Chou holds its state,
  Through this vile Szŭ of Pao sinks to night.

9That such issue will come is ever my thought;
  And moreover, O king, let me say,
Like a wagoner you, and fast falls the rain!
  Heavy load suits but ill miry clay.
Wheel aids you may have, but if these you neglect,
  And the hands that would help you are spurned,
You soon will be crying, "O sir, give me aid,"
  When the car of the state is o’erturned. p. 243

10If your wheel aids you keep, and get them well plied,
  That their help they shall give to each spoke,
And keep on the driver a vigilant eye,
  Then your carriage will travel unbroke.
Your load will be safe, and your journey will come,
  Though most rugged and hard, to its end;
But these things seem trifles, as looked upon now;
  To the peril you will not attend.

11Shallow ponds on the fish small pleasure bestow;
  To the bottom they dive, and there lie.
But the fisherman sharp them clearly perceives,
  And a prey to his cunning they die.
And so, men of worth, in this kingdom oppressed,
  Little pleasure can ever possess;
For hatred pursues them, where’er they may hide.
  How such things fill my heart with distress!

12Clear sparkle the spirits, set forth at their feasts,
  And the mats with fine viands are crowned.
Neighbors there and their kindred in numbers appear,
  And the halls with their praises resound.
So is it with those, the unworthy and base;
  Such reward by their flattery they gain; p. 244
While here I am left, and in solitude pine,
  Struggling hard with my grief and my pain.

13Though mean, they are gifted with houses and lands;
  Abjects vile, they their salaries draw;
But the people endure a hard, famished lot,
  And are dealt with by Heaven's sternest law.
Rich men may succeed in a time so severe;
  With their wealth and their stores they can live.
But alas for the poor, alone, without help!
  Should the king not deliverance give?

Next: IX. Shih Yüeh Chih Chiao