There is no difficulty or difference in the interpretation of this piece; and it brings us down to B.C. 621. Then died duke Mû, after playing an important part in the north-west of China for thirty-nine years. The Ȝo Kwan, under the sixth year of duke Wan, makes mention of Mû's requiring that the three brothers here celebrated should be buried with him, and of the composition of this piece in consequence. Sze-mâ Khien says that this barbarous practice began with Mû's predecessor, with whom sixty-six persons were buried alive, and that one hundred and seventy-seven in all were buried with Mû. The death of the last distinguished man of the House of Khin, the emperor I, was subsequently celebrated by the entombment with him of all the inmates of his harem.
They flit about, the yellow birds, And rest upon the jujube trees 1. Who followed duke Mû in the grave? Ȝze-kü Yen-hsî. And this Yen-hsî Was a man above a hundred. When he came to the
grave, He looked terrified and trembled. Thou azure Heaven there! Could he have been redeemed, We would have given a hundred (ordinary) men for him 1.
provident ways, their agriculture and weaving, nearly 3,700 years ago, is
443:1 It is difficult to see the relation between these two allusive lines and the rest of the stanza. Some say that it is this,--that the people loved the three victims as they liked the birds; others that the birds among the trees were in their proper place,--very different from the brothers in the grave of duke Mû.
444:1 This appeal to Heaven is like what we met with in the first of the Odes of the Royal Domain, and the eighth of those of Thang.