I give the whole of this piece, because it is an interesting instance of Sabian views. The writer, despairing of help from men, appeals to Heaven; but he distributes the Power that could help him among many heavenly bodies, supposing that there are spiritual beings in them, taking account of human affairs.
Well loaded with millet were the dishes, And long and curved were the spoons of thorn-wood. The way to Kâu was like a whetstone, And straight as an arrow. (So) the officers trod it, And the common people looked on it. When I look back and think of it, My tears run down in streams.
In the states of the east, large and small, The looms are empty. Then shoes of dolichos fibre Are made to serve to walk on the hoar-frost. Slight and elegant gentlemen 1 Walk along that road to Kâu. Their going and coming makes my heart sad.
Ye cold waters, issuing variously from the spring, Do not soak the firewood I have cut. Sorrowful, I awake and sigh;--Alas for us toiled people! The firewood has been cut;--Would that it were
conveyed home! Alas for us the toiled people! Would that we could have rest 1!
The sons of the east Are summoned only (to service), without encouragement; While the sons of the west Shine in splendid dresses. The sons of boatmen Have furs of the bear and grisly bear. The sons of the, poorest families Form the officers in public employment.
If we present them with spirits, They regard them as not fit to be called liquor. If we give them long girdle pendants with their stones, They do not think them long enough.
There is the Milky Way in heaven 2, Which looks down on us in light; And the three stars together are the Weaving Sisters 3, Passing in a day through seven stages (of the sky).
Although they go through their seven stages, They complete no bright work for us. Brilliant Shine the Draught Oxen 4, But they do not serve to draw our carts. In the east there is Lucifer 5; In the west there is Hesperus 5; Long and curved
is the Rabbit Net of the sky 1;--But they only occupy their places.
In the south is the Sieve 2, But it is of no use to sift. In the north is the Ladle 3, But it lades out no liquor. In the south is the Sieve, Idly showing its mouth. In the north is the Ladle, Raising its handle in the west.
362:1 That is, 'slight-looking,' unfit for toil; and yet they are obliged to make their journey on foot.
363:1 This stanza describes, directly or by symbol, the exactions from which the people of the east were suffering.
363:2 The Milky Way' is here called simply the Han, = in the sky what the Han river is in China.
363:3 'The Weaving Sisters, or Ladies,' are three stars in Lyra, that form a triangle. To explain what is said of their passing through seven spaces, it is said: 'The stars seem to go round the circumference of the heavens, divided into twelve spaces, in a day and night. They would accomplish six of them in a day; but as their motion is rather in advance of that of the sun, they have entered into the seventh space by the time it is up with them again.'
363:4 'The Draught Oxen' is the name of some stars in the neck of Aquila.
363:5 Liû Î (Sung dynasty) says: 'The metal star (Venus) is in the p. 364 east in the morning, thus "opening the brightness of the day;" and it is in the west in the evening, thus "prolonging the day."' The author of the piece, however, evidently took Lucifer and Hesperus to be two stars.
364:1 'The Rabbit Net' is the Hyades.
364:2 'The Sieve' is the name of one of the twenty-eight constellations of the zodiac,--part of Sagittarius.
364:3 'The Ladle' is the constellation next to 'the Sieve,'--also part of Sagittarius.