The Wisdom of Confucius

Page 35 of 49


[Pg 161]


List to the thunder and roll of the drum!
See how we spring and brandish the dart!
Some raise Ts‘aou's walls; some do field work at home;
But we to the southward lonely depart.
Our chief, Sun Tsze-chung, agreement has made,
Our forces to join with Ch‘in and with Sung.
When shall we back from this service be led?
Our hearts are all sad, our courage unstrung.
Here we are halting, and there we delay;
Anon we soon lose our high-mettled steeds.
The forest's gloom makes our steps go astray;
Each thicket of trees our searching misleads.
For death as for life, at home or abroad,
We pledged to our wives our faithfulest word.
Their hands clasped in ours, together we vowed,
We'd live to old age in sweetest accord.
This march to the South can end but in ill;
Oh! never shall we our wives again meet.
The word that we pledged we cannot fulfil;
Us home returning they never will greet.



With mind indifferent, things I easy take;
In every dance I prompt appearance make:—
Then, when the sun is at his topmost height,
There, in the place that courts the public sight.
[Pg 162] With figure large I in the courtyard dance,
And the duke smiles, when he beholds me prance.
A tiger's strength I have; the steeds swift bound;
The reins as ribbons in my hands are found.
See how I hold the flute in my left hand;
In right the pheasant's plume, waved like a wand;
With visage red, where rouge you think to trace,
While the duke pleased, sends down the cup of grace!
Hazel on hills; the ling in meadow damp;—
Each has its place, while I'm a slighted scamp.
My thoughts go back to th' early days of Chow,
And muse upon its chiefs, not equalled now.
O noble chiefs, who then the West adorned,
Would ye have thus neglected me and scorned?



My way leads forth by the gate on the north;
My heart is full of woe.
I hav'n't a cent, begged, stolen, or lent,
And friends forget me so.
So let it be! 'tis Heaven's decree.
What can I say—a poor fellow like me?
The King has his throne, sans sorrow or moan;
On me fall all his cares,
And when I come home, resolved not to roam,
Each one indignant stares.
So let it be! 'tis Heaven's decree.
What can I say—a poor fellow like me?
[Pg 163] Each thing of the King, and the fate of the State,
On me come more and more.
And when, sad and worn, I come back forlorn,
They thrust me from the door.
So let it be! 'tis Heaven's decree.
What can I say—a poor fellow like me?



When the upper robe is green,
With a yellow lining seen,
There we have a certain token,
Right is wronged and order broken.
How can sorrow from my heart
In a case like this depart?
Color green the robe displays;
Lower garment yellow's blaze.
Thus it is that favorite mean
In the place of wife is seen.
Vain the conflict with my grief;
Memory denies relief.
Yes, 'twas you the green who dyed,
You who fed the favorite's pride.
Anger rises in my heart,
Pierces it as with a dart.
But on ancient rules lean I,
Lest to wrong my thoughts should fly.
Fine or coarse, if thin the dress,
Cold winds always cause distress.
Hard my lot, my sorrow deep,
But my thoughts in check I keep.
[Pg 164] Ancient story brings to mind
Sufferers who were resigned.

[Note.—Yellow is one of the five "correct" colors of the Chinese, while green is one of the "intermediate" colors that are less esteemed. Here we have the yellow used merely as a lining to the green, or employed in the lower, or less honorable, part of the dress;—an inversion of propriety, and intimating how a favorite had usurped the place of the rightful wife and thrust her down.]



O sweet maiden, so fair and retiring,
At the corner I'm waiting for you;
And I'm scratching my head, and inquiring
What on earth it were best I should do.
Oh! the maiden, so handsome and coy,
For a pledge gave a slim rosy reed.
Than the reed is she brighter, my joy;
On her loveliness how my thoughts feed!
In the pastures a t'e blade she sought,
And she gave it, so elegant, rare.
Oh! the grass does not dwell in my thought,
But the donor, more elegant, fair.



As when the north winds keenly blow,
And all around fast falls the snow,
The source of pain and suffering great,
So now it is in Wei's poor state.
Let us join hands and haste away,
My friends and lovers all.
[Pg 165] 'Tis not a time will brook delay;
Things for prompt action call.
As when the north winds whistle shrill,
And drifting snows each hollow fill,
The source of pain and suffering great,
So now it is in Wei's poor state.
Let us join hands, and leave for aye,
My friends and lovers all,
'Tis not a time will brook delay;
Things for prompt action call.
We look for red, and foxes meet;
For black, and crows our vision greet.
The creatures, both of omen bad,
Well suit the state of Wei so sad.
Let us join hands and mount our cars,
My friends and lovers all.
No time remains for wordy jars;
Things for prompt action call.

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