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

p. 303


The Pin Chih Ch‘u Yen; narrative. Against drunkenness. Drinking according to rule, and drinking to excess. A lively picture of the license of the times.

1When to the mats the guests draw near,
      Good order they observe.
Some moving to the left appear,
      While to the right some swerve.
In rows the dishes stand arrayed;—
Of wood and bamboo featly made.
Sauces and kernels in them shine;
And tempered well the spirits fine:—
      The guests with reverence taste.
Now are the drums and bells set up;
And round the circle goes the cup,
      Without unseemly jest.
The royal target then they rear,
And bows and arrows soon appear,
      Made ready for the game.
On different sides the archers stand;
And one, his weapons in his hand,
      Calls out another's name.
"Now shoot," he says, "and show your skill."
The other answers, "Shoot I will,
And hit the mark;—and when you miss,
Give you the penal cup to kiss." p. 304

2The drums loud sound, the organ swells;
      Their flutes the dancers wave.
The other instruments and bells
      Join in the concert grave.
Thus with our music blends the dance,
The solemn service to enhance,
      Which to our sires is paid.
When rites, the greatest and the least,
Have been performed to grace the feast,
      Then to our king ‘tis said,
"Blessings on you your sires bestow."
With joy his sons and grandsons glow;
They feel inspired to show their care,
And reverently themselves to bear.
The guests then come, in order led,
By him who is their chief and head.
With those who represent the dead
      They drink in reverent style.
Attendants wait their cups to fill,
But order rules ’midst their good will.
Our cups are only drunk to cheer;
Our temple services are clear
      From all excesses vile. p. 305

3When to the mats the guests approach,
      Mild harmony holds rule.
These dare not upon those encroach,
      And no one plays the fool.
So long as in duo bounds they keep,
      Discreetly they behave;
But when those bounds they overleap,
      Then where are they,—so grave?
They leave the mats, and prance about;
      They caper round and round.
Their caution all is put to rout;
      Their wits fall to the ground.
Anon as still more drunk they grow,
      On rudeness they are set.
The cups their reason overthrow,
      And they themselves forget.

4Yes, when the guests have drunk too much,
      They shout aloud and brawl.
The dishes get no gentle touch;
      Disorder fills the hall. p. 306
They dance about, now fast, now slow,
      Can hardly keep their feet.
What fools they are they do not know;
      No one resumes his seat.
Each cap, awry, will hardly stay
      Upon the giddy head;
But they keep on in madness’ way,
      And no exposure dread.
If, when their wits began to reel,
      They left the room at once,
Both host and guests would happier feel,
      Nor know the sad mischance.
But holding on, themselves they harm.
      The drinking feast is good
Only when guests their wills can arm
      Against misconduct rude.

5Whene’er a drinking feast is set,
Some sober keep, some drunk will get.
One is appointed to preside,
With an assistant by his side,
Record to make, as they decide,
      Who praise deserve, who blame. p. 307
But sots there are, in vice quite sunk,
Who, seeing some will not get drunk,
      Say, "We for you feel shame."
These, if they could get in a word,
Might counsel to the rest afford.
To fright them from their wild excess,
Sternly they might them thus address:—
"From such improper speech refrain;
Not called to speak, your tongues restrain.
You're drunk; if but a word you say,
We'll send you out this very day,
To find a thing which nature scorns,—
A ram full grown, yet wanting horns.
Drink but three cups, your memory's gone;
How can you drinking still go on?"

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