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

p. 268


The Ta Tung; allusive. An officer, of one of the states of the east, deplores the exactions made from them by the government; complains of the favor shown to the west; contrasts the misery of the present with the happiness of the past; and appeals to the stars of heaven idly beholding their condition.

1With millet filled, the dishes stood displayed;
The spoons lay long and curved, of thornwood made.
Smooth as a whetstone was the road to Chou,
And straight as shaft well fitted for the bow.
This road the common people gladly viewed;
The officers on it their way pursued.
Thus back to former times my thoughts will go,
And down my cheeks the tears in streamlets flow.

2Now in the east, in states both large and small,
Shuttles unplied, the looms are empty all.
Thin cloth of dolichos supplies the shoes,
Which shivering travelers on the hoarfrost use.
Young nobles, cultured, but too thin and spare,
Hurry along the road, all full of care.
They go, they come; weary they are and worn.
My heart aches for them, and I feel forlorn. p. 269

3This firewood, cut and hewn with earnest toil,
I fear the waters from that spring will spoil.
Fit then as emblems they would be of those
Whose stern exactions grant us no repose.
The firewood cut must homeward be conveyed;—
Toil after toil is on the people laid.
O that we could the needful rest but take!
Tired out we sleep, and sigh when we awake.

4The east its noblest sons to service hard
Sees promptly called; but they get no reward.
There in the west sons of each noble line
Live idle, and in splendid dresses shine.
There also boatmen's sons now proudly wear
The glossy furs of which men spoil the bear.
Sons of the poorest families, elate,
In public offices display their state.

5Our choicest spirits humbly we present.
"How can such stuff," they say, "our taste content?"
Long girdle pendants, well supplied with gems, p. 270
We give, and each the gift as short contemns.
Up to the Milky Way I turn my gaze;—
Looks it not down to mark their evil ways?
There too the Weaving Sisters’ triple beam,
While they move on, might shed an angry gleam.

6Nightly those Sisters through seven stages go,
But no bright work do they to ease our woe.
The stars we call Draft Oxen also shine,
But they no cart for us to draw combine.
The Morning Star appears in the dim east,
The Evening Star oft twinkles in the west,
And long and curved the Rabbit Net is there:—
Each fills its place, but heeds not our despair.

7Four stars to be the Southern Sieve have claim,
But nothing do they to make good the name.
Northwards the Ladle sparkles in the sky,
But ladles nothing that may drink supply.
O Southern Sieve, thy mouth is idly shown,
For good come from it we have never known.
And thou, O Ladle, shining in the north,
Thy handle eastward vainly stretchest forth!

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