It does not appear on occasion of what sacrifice this piece was made. The most probable view is that of Mâo, that it was the
[paragraph continues] 'great Tî sacrifice,' when the principal object of honour would be the ancient Khû, the father of Hsieh, with Hsieh as his correlate, and all the kings of the dynasty, with the earlier lords of Shang, and their famous ministers and advisers, would have their places at the service. I think this is the oldest of the odes of Shang.
Profoundly wise were (the lords of) Shang, And long had there appeared the omens (of their dignity).
When the waters of the deluge spread vast abroad, Yû arranged and divided the regions of the land, And assigned to the exterior great states their boundaries, With their borders extending all over (the kingdom). (Even) then the chief of Sung was beginning to be great, And God raised up the son (of his daughter), and founded (the line of) Shang 1.
The dark king exercised an effective sway 2. Charged with a small state, he commanded success: Charged with a large state, he commanded success 3. He followed his rules of conduct without error; Wherever he inspected (the people), they responded (to his instructions 4. (Then came) Hsiang-thû all ardent 5, And all within the four seas, beyond (the middle regions), acknowledged his restraints.}
The favour of God did not leave (Shang), And in Thang was found the fit object for its display. Thang was not born too late, And his wisdom and reverence daily advanced:--Brilliant was the influence of his character (on Heaven) for long. God he revered, And God appointed him to be the model for the nine regions.
He received the rank-tokens of the states, small and large, Which depended on him like the pendants of a banner:--So did he receive the blessing of Heaven. He was neither violent nor remiss, Neither hard nor soft. Gently he spread his instructions abroad, And all dignities and riches were concentrated in him.
He received the tribute of the states, small and large, And he supported them as a strong steed (does its burden):--So did he receive the favour of Heaven. He displayed everywhere his valour, Unshaken, unmoved, Unterrified, unscared:--All dignities were united in him.
The martial king displayed his banner, And with reverence grasped his axe. It was like (the case of) a blazing fire which no one can repress. The root, with its three shoots, Could make no progress, no growth 1. The nine regions were effectually secured by Thang. Having smitten (the princes of) Wei and Kû, He dealt with (him of) Kün-wû and with Kieh of Hsiâ.
Formerly, in the middle of the period (before
[paragraph continues] Thang), There was a time of shaking and peril 1. But truly did Heaven (then) deal with him as a son, And sent him down a high minister, Namely, Â-hăng 2, Who gave his assistance to the king of Shang.
309:1 This line refers to the birth of Hsieh, as described in the previous ode, and his being made lord of Shang.
309:2 It would be hard to say why Hsieh is here called 'the dark king.' There may be an allusion to the legend about the connexion of the swallow,--'the dark bird,'--with his birth, He never was 'a king;' but his descendants here represented him as such.
309:3 All that is meant here is, that the territory of Shang was enlarged under Hsieh.
309:4 There is a reference here to Hsieh's appointment by Shun to be Minister of Instruction.
309:5 Hsiang-thû appears in the genealogical lists as grandson of Hsieh. We know nothing of him but what is related here.
310:1 By 'the root' we are to understand Thang's chief opponent, Kieh, the last king of Hsiâ. Kieh's three great helpers were 'the three shoots,'--the princes of Wei, Kû, and Kün-wû; but the exact sites of their principalities cannot be made out.
311:1 We do not know anything of this time of decadence in the fortunes of Shang between Hsieh and Thang.
311:2 Â-hăng is Î Yin, who plays so remarkable a part in the Shû, IV, Books iv, v, and vi.