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The Book of Poetry, tr. by James Legge, [1876], at

p. 271


The Ssŭ Yüeh; allusive and narrative. An officer bitterly deplores the oppression and misery of the time.

1In the fourth month summer shines;
In the sixth the heat declines.
Nature thus grants men relief;
Tyranny gives only grief.
Were not my forefathers men?
Can my suffering ’scape their ken?

2In the cold of autumn days,
Each plant shrivels and decays.
Nature then is hard and stern;
Living things sad lessons learn.
Friends dispersed, all order gone,
Place of refuge have I none.

3Winter days are wild and fierce;
Rapid gusts each crevice pierce.
Such is my unhappy lot,
Unbefriended and forgot!
Others all can happy be;
I from misery never am free.

4On the mountains are fine trees;
Chestnuts, plum trees, there one sees.
All the year their forms they show;
Stately more and more they grow. p. 272
Noble turned to ravening thief!
What the cause? This stirs my grief.

5Waters from that spring appear
Sometimes foul, and sometimes clear,
Changing oft, as falls the rain,
Or the sky grows bright again.
New misfortunes every day
Still befall me, misery's prey.

6Aid from mighty streams obtained,
Southern states are shaped and drained.
Thus the Chiang and Han are thanked,
And as benefactors ranked.
Weary toil my vigor drains;
All unnoticed it remains!

7Hawks and eagles mount the sky;
Sturgeons in deep waters lie.
Out of reach, they safety get,
Arrow fear not, nor the net.
Hiding place for me there's none;
Here I stay, and make my moan.

8Ferns upon the hills abound;
Ch‘i and i in marshy ground.
Each can boast its proper place,
Where it grows for use or grace.
I can only sing the woe,
Which, ill-starred, I undergo.

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