Attention is called in the Introduction, p. 296, to the date of the solar eclipse mentioned in this piece.
At the conjunction (of the sun and moon) in the tenth month, On the first day of the moon, which was hsin-mâo, The sun was eclipsed, A thing of very evil omen. Before, the moon became small, And now the sun became small. Henceforth the lower people Will be in a very deplorable case.
The sun and moon announce evil, Not keeping to their proper paths. Throughout the kingdom there is no (proper) government, Because the good are not employed. For the moon to be eclipsed Is but an ordinary matter. Now that the sun has been eclipsed,--How bad it is!
Grandly flashes the lightning of the thunder. There is a want of rest, a want of good. The streams all bubble up and overflow. The crags on the hill-tops fall down. High banks become valleys; Deep valleys become hills. Alas for the men of this time! How does (the king) not stop these things?
Hwang-fû is the President; Fan is the Minister
of Instruction; Kiâ-po is the (chief) Administrator; Kung-yün is the chief Cook; Ȝâu is the Recorder of the Interior; Khwei is Master of the Horse; Yü is Captain of the Guards; And the beautiful wife blazes, now in possession of her place 1.
This Hwang-fû Will not acknowledge that he is acting. out of season. But why does he call us to move, Without coming and consulting with us? He has removed our walls and roofs; And our fields are all either a marsh or a moor. He says, 'I am not injuring you; The laws require that thus it should be.'
Hwang-fû is very wise; He has built a great city for himself in Hsiang. He chose three men as his ministers, All of them possessed of great wealth. He could not bring himself to leave a single minister, Who might guard our king. He (also) selected those who had chariots and horses, To go and reside in Hsiang 2.
I have exerted myself to discharge my service, And do not dare to make a report of my toils. Without crime or offence of any kind, Slanderous mouths are loud against me. (But) the calamities of the lower people Do not come down from Heaven. A multitude of (fair) words, and hatred behind the back;--The earnest, strong pursuit of this is from men.
Distant far is my village, And my dissatisfaction is great. In other quarters there is ease, And I dwell here, alone and sorrowful. Everybody is going into retirement, And I alone dare not seek rest. The ordinances of Heaven are inexplicable, But I will not dare to follow my friends, and leave my post.
356:1 We do not know anything from history of the ministers of Yû mentioned in this stanza. Hwang-fû appears to have been the leading minister of the government at the time when the ode was written, and, as appears from the next two stanzas, was very crafty, oppressive, and selfishly ambitious. The mention of 'the chief Cook' among the high ministers appears strange; but we shall find that functionary mentioned in another ode; and from history it appears that 'the Cook,' at the royal and feudal courts, sometimes played an important part during the times of Kâu. 'The beautiful wife,' no doubt, was the well-known Sze of Pâo, raised by king Yû from her position as one of his concubines to be his queen, and whose insane folly and ambition led to her husband's death, and great and disastrous changes in the kingdom.
356:2 Hsiang was a district of the royal domain, in the present district of Măng, department of Hwâi-khing, Ho-nan. It had been assigned to Hwang-fû, and he was establishing himself there, without any loyal regard to the king. As a noble in the royal domain, p. 357 he was entitled only to two ministers, but he had appointed three as in one of the feudal states, encouraging, moreover, the resort to himself of the wealthy and powerful, while the court was left weak and unprotected.