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p. 402


The Yün Han; narrative. King Hsüan, on occasion of a great drought, expostulates with God and all the spirits, who might be expected to assist him and his people, asks them wherefore they were contending with him, and details the measures he had taken, and was still taking, for the removal of the calamity.

1Grand shone the Milky Way on high,
With brilliant span athwart the sky,
    Nor promise gave of rain.
King Hsüan long gazed; then from him broke,
In anguished tones the words he spoke.
    Well might he thus complain!
"O Heaven, what crimes have we to own,
That death and ruin still come down?
Relentless famine fills our graves.
Pity the king who humbly craves!
    Our miseries never cease.
To every spirit I have vowed;
The choicest victim's blood has flowed.
As offerings I have freely paid
My store of gems and purest jade.
    Hear me, and give release! p. 403

2"The drought consumes us. As on wing
Its fervors fly, and torment bring.
With purest mind and ceaseless care
My sacrifices I prepare.
At thine own border altars, Heaven,
And in my father's fane, I've given
    What might relief have found.
What powers above, below, have sway,
To all my precious gifts I pay,
    Then bury in the ground.
Yes, every spirit has received
Due honor, and, still unrelieved,
    Our sufferings greater grow.
Hou-chi can't give the needed aid,
And help from God is still delayed!
The country lies a ruined waste.
O would that I alone might taste
    This bitter cup of woe!

3"The drought consumes us. Nor do I
To fix the blame on others try.
I quake with dread; the risk I feel,
As when I hear the thunder peal, p. 404
    Or fear its sudden crash.
Our black-haired race, a remnant now,
Will every one be swept from Chou,
    As by the lightning's flash.
Nor I myself will live alone.
God from His great and heavenly throne
    Will not spare even me.
O friends and officers, come, blend
Your prayers with mine; come, lowly bend.
Chou's dynasty will pass away;
Its altars at no distant day
    In ruins all shall be!

4"The drought consumes us. It keeps on
Its fatal course. All hope is gone.
The air more fierce and fiery glows.
Where can I fly? Where seek repose?
    Death marks me for its prey.
Above, no saving hand! Around,
No hope, no comfort, can be found.
The dukes and ministers of old
Give us no help. Can ye withhold
Your sympathy, who lately reigned? p. 405
And parents, how are you restrained,
    In this so dreadful day?

5"The drought consumes us. There on high
The hills are parched. The streams are dry.
Drought's demon stalks abroad in ire,
And scatters wide his flames and fire.
    Alas my woeful heart!
The fires within its strength consume;
The heats without create a-gloom
    That from it will not part.
The dukes and ministers bygone
Respond not to my prayer and moan.
God in great Heaven, permission give
That I may in retirement live,
    And try to heal my smart!

6"The drought consumes us. Still I strive,
And will not leave while I survive.
    Duty to shun I fear.
Why upon me has come this drought? p. 406
Vainly I try to search it out,
    Vainly, with quest severe.
For a good harvest soon I prayed,
Nor late the rites I duly paid,
To spirits of the air and land.
There wanted nought they could demand,
    Their favor to secure.
God in great heaven, be just, be kind!
Thou dost not bear me in Thy mind.
My cry, ye wisest spirits, hear!
Ye whom I constantly revere,
    Why do I this endure?

7"The drought consumes us. People fly,
And leave their homes. Each social tie
    And bond of rule is snapt.
The heads of boards are all perplexed;
My premier's mind is sorely vexed;
    In trouble all are wrapt.
The masters of my horse and guards;
My cook, and men of different wards:—
Not one has from the struggle shrunk. p. 407
Though feeling weak, they have not sunk,
    But done their best to aid.
To the great sky I look with pain;—
Why do these grievous sorrows rain
    On my devoted head?

8"Yes, at the mighty sky I gaze,
And lo! the stars pursue their maze,
    And sparkle clear and bright.
Ah! Heaven nor helps, nor seems to ken.
Great officers and noble men,
With all your powers ye well have striven,
And reverently have sought from Heaven
    Its aid in our great fight.
My death is near; but oh! keep on,
And do as thus far you have done.
    Regard you only me?
No, for yourselves and all your friends,
On whom for rule the land depends,
    You seek security.
I turn my gaze to the great sky;—
When shall this drought be done, and I
    Quiet and restful be?"

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