The Preface refers this piece to the reign of king Yû; but there is nothing. in it to suggest the idea of its having been made in a time of disorder and misgovernment. 'The distant descendant' in the first stanza is evidently the principal in the sacrifice of the last two stanzas:--according to Kû, a noble or great landholder in the royal domain; according to others, some one of the kings of Kâu. I incline myself to this latter view. The three pieces,
of which this is the middle one, seem all to be royal odes. The mention of 'the southern hill' strongly confirms this view.
Yes, (all about) that southern hill Was made manageable by Yü 1. Its plains and marshes being opened up, It was made into fields by the distant descendant. We define their boundaries, We form their smaller divisions, And make the acres lie, here to the south, there to the east.
The heavens overhead are one arch of clouds, Snowing in multitudinous flakes; There is super-added the drizzling rain. When (the land) has received the moistening, Soaking influence abundantly, It produces all our kinds of grain.
The boundaries and smaller divisions are nicely adjusted, And the millets yield abundant crops, The harvest of the distant descendant. We proceed to make therewith spirits and food, To supply our representatives of the departed, and our guests;--To obtain long life, extending over myriads of years.
In the midst of the fields are the huts 2, And
along the bounding divisions are gourds. The fruit is sliced and pickled, To be presented to our great ancestors, That their distant descendant may have long life, And receive the blessing of Heaven 1.
We sacrifice (first) with clear spirits, And then follow with a red bull; Offering them to our ancestors, (Our lord) holds the knife with tinkling bells, To lay open the hair of the victim, And takes the blood and fat 2.
Then we present, then we offer; All round the fragrance is diffused. Complete and brilliant is the sacrificial service; Grandly come our ancestors. They will reward (their descendant) with great blessing, Long life, years without end.
369:1 There is here a recognition of the work of the great Yü, as the real founder of the kingdom of China, extending the territory of former elective chiefs, and opening up the country. 'The southern hill' bounded the prospect to the south from the capital of Kâu, and hence the writer makes mention of it. He does not mean to confine the work of Yü to that part of the country; but, on the other hand, there is nothing in his language to afford a confirmation to the account given in the third Part of the Shû of that hero's achievements.
369:2 In every King, or space of 900 Chinese acres or mâu, assigned to eight families, there were in the Centre 100 mâu of 'public fields,' belonging to the government, and cultivated by the husbandmen in common. In this space of 100 mâu, two mâu and a half were again assigned to each family, and on them were p. 370 erected the huts in which they lived, while they were actively engaged in their agricultural labours.
370:1 Here, as in so many other places, the sovereign Power, ruling in the lots of men, is referred to as Heaven.
370:2 The fat was taken from the victim, and then burnt along with fragrant herbs, so as to form a cloud of incense. On the taking of the 'blood,' it is only said, that it was done to enable the sacrificer to announce that a proper victim had been slain.