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

p. 247


The Yü Wu Chêng; narrative. A groom of the chambers mourns over the miserable state of the kingdom, the incorrigible course of the king, and the retirement from office and responsibility of many, while he alone holds to his post.

1O vast and mighty Heaven, why shrinks thy love?
Thy kindness, erst so great, no more we prove.
Sent from above by thine afflicting hand,
Famine and death now stalk throughout the land.
O pitying Heaven, in terrors now arrayed,
No care, no forethought in thy course displayed,
Of criminals I do not think;—they bear
The suffering which their deeds of guilt prepare.
But there are many, innocent of crime,
O’erwhelmed by ruin in this evil time!

2The honored name of Chou fades in the past,
And, still augmenting, these sore troubles last.
Their posts the Heads of offices all leave,
While I toil on, none knowing how I grieve! p. 248
The three great chiefs, and those whom they direct,
At dawn and dusk, their businesses neglect.
Nor morn beholds at court, nor evening late,
The absent lord of each neglected state.
If thou would’st turn to good, and banish ill,—
But, hapless king, thou sinkest lower still.

3O glorious Heaven, thy gift the listening ear,
Why justest words will not our monarch hear?
Like traveler, from the right path gone astray,
He knows not whither leads his devious way.
Ye officers, this should your zeal inspire,
And fan of duty the expiring fire.
Of one another you should stand in awe.—
Alas! you heed not Heaven's o’erruling law!

4Deaf to war's lessons, bad he still remains;
To famine blind, from good he still refrains.
Groom of the chambers I, and nothing more,
Our sad estate I cease not to deplore.
Ye officers, cowardlike, your duty shun,
And to the king the truth will not make known.
Whene’er he questions, you give brief reply;
When touched by slander, from the court you fly. p. 249

5Bad is the time! Right words awaken hate.
Who with his tongue what's in his heart will state
Is sure to suffer, while pernicious lies
Are gladly heard, and fulsome flatteries.
The artful speech flows freely like a stream;
At ease the speakers bask ’neath fortune's beam.

6And difficult the time! Risks manifold
Surround the man who office dares to hold.
Speak what the king impossible shall deem,
And straight his countenance shows angry gleam.
Speak what he likes and fain would carry out,
And straight your friends look on with scorn and doubt.

7I say, Ye officers, come back to court."
"We have no houses there," is your retort.
My heart is pierced; ensanguined are my tears;
My words but rouse the wrath of him who hears.
But let me ask, "When homes elsewhere you reared,
Who then gave help against the ills you feared?"

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