The king addressed in this piece was most probably Yû. It suits his character and reign.
I look up to great Heaven, But it shows us no kindness. Very long have we been disquieted, And these great calamities are sent down (upon us). There is nothing settled in the country; Officers and people are in distress. Through the insects from without and from within, There is no peace or limit (to our misery). The net of crime is not taken up 1, And there is no peace nor cure (for our state).
Why is it that Heaven is (thus) reproving (you)? Why is it that Heaven is not blessing (you)? You neglect your great barbarian (foes), And regard me with hatred. You are regardless of the evil omens (that abound 2), And your demeanour is all unseemly. (Good) men are going away, And the country is sure to go to ruin.
Heaven is letting down its net, And many (are the calamities in it). (Good) men are going away, And my heart is sorrowful. Heaven is letting down
its net, And soon (all will be caught in it). (Good) men are going away, And my heart is sad.
Right from the spring comes the water bubbling, Revealing its depth. The sorrow of my heart,--Is it (only) of to-day? Why were these things not, before me? Or why were they not after me? But mysteriously great Heaven Is able to strengthen anything. Do not disgrace your great ancestors This will save your posterity 1.
428:1 By 'the net of crime' we are to understand the multitude of penal laws, to whose doom people were exposed. In stanza 6, Heaven is represented as letting it down.
428:2 Compare ode 9 of the fourth decade in the former Part.
429:1 The writer in these concluding lines ventures to summon the king to repentance, and to hold out a hope that there might come a change in their state. He does this, believing that all things are possible with Heaven.