The Wisdom of Confucius

Page 47 of 49


[Pg 224]


The fibres of the white-flowered rush
Are with the white grass bound.
So do the two together go,
In closest union found.
And thus should man and wife abide,
The twain combined in one;
But this bad man sends me away,
And bids me dwell alone.
Both rush and grass from the bright clouds
The genial dew partake.
Kind and impartial, nature's laws
No odious difference make.
But providence appears unkind;
Events are often hard.
This man, to principle untrue,
Denies me his regard.
Northward the pools their waters send,
To flood each paddy field;
So get the fields the sap they need,
Their store of rice to yield.
But that great man no deed of grace
Deigns to bestow on me.
My songs are sighs. At thought of him
My heart aches wearily.
The mulberry branches they collect,
And use their food to cook;
But I must use a furnace small,
That pot nor pan will brook.
[Pg 225] So me that great man badly treats,
Nor uses as his wife,
Degrades me from my proper place,
And fills with grief my life.
The bells and drums inside the court
Men stand without and hear;
So should the feelings in my breast,
To him distinct appear.
All-sorrowful, I think of him,
Longing to move his love;
But he vouchsafes no kind response;
His thoughts far from me rove.
The marabow stands on the dam,
And to repletion feeds;
The crane deep in the forest cries,
Nor finds the food it needs.
So in my room the concubine
By the great man is placed;
While I with cruel banishment
Am cast out and disgraced.
The yellow ducks sit on the dam.
With left wing gathered low;
So on each other do they lean,
And their attachment show.
And love should thus the man and wife
In closest concord bind;
But that man turns away from me,
And shows a fickle mind.
When one stands on a slab of stone,
No higher than the ground,
Nothing is added to his height;—
Low with the stone he's found.
[Pg 226] So does the favorite's mean estate
Render that great man mean,
While I by him, to distance sent,
Am pierced with sorrow keen.



A few gourd leaves that waved about
Cut down and boiled;—the feast how spare!
But the good host his spirits takes,
Pours out a cup, and proves them rare.
A single rabbit on the mat,
Or baked, or roast:—how small the feast!
But the good host his spirits takes,
And fills the cup of every guest.
A single rabbit on the mat,
Roasted or broiled:—how poor the meal!
But the guests from the spirit vase
Fill their host's cup, and drink his weal.
A single rabbit on the mat,
Roasted or baked:—no feast we think!
But from the spirit vase they take,
Both host and guests, and joyous drink.



Yellow now is all the grass;
All the days in marching pass.
On the move is every man;
Hard work, far and near, they plan.
[Pg 227] Black is every plant become;
Every man is torn from home.
Kept on foot, our state is sad;—
As if we no feelings had!
Not rhinoceroses we!
Tigers do we care to be?
Fields like these so desolate
Are to us a hateful fate.
Long-tailed foxes pleased may hide
'Mong the grass, where they abide.
We, in box carts slowly borne,
On the great roads plod and mourn.

[Pg 228]



Decade of King Wan



The royal Wan now rests on high,
Enshrined in brightness of the sky.
Chow as a state had long been known,
And Heaven's decree at last was shown.
Its lords had borne a glorious name;
God kinged them when the season came.
King Wan ruled well when earth he trod;
Now moves his spirit near to God.
A strong-willed, earnest king was Wan,
And still his fame rolls widening on.
The gifts that God bestowed on Chow
Belong to Wan's descendants now.
Heaven blesses still with gifts divine
The hundred scions of his line;
And all the officers of Chow
From age to age more lustrous grow.
More lustrous still from age to age,
All reverent plans their zeal engage;
And brilliant statesmen owe their birth
To this much-favored spot of earth.
[Pg 229] They spring like products of the land—
The men by whom the realm doth stand.
Such aid their numerous bands supply,
That Wan rests tranquilly on high.
Deep were Wan's thoughts, sustained his ways;
His reverence lit its trembling rays.
Resistless came great Heaven's decree;
The sons of Shang must bend the knee;—
The sons of Shang, each one a king,
In numbers beyond numbering.
Yet as God spoke, so must it be:—
The sons of Shang all bent the knee.
Now each to Chow his homage pays—
So dark and changing are Heaven's ways.
When we pour our libations here,
The officers of Shang appear,
Quick and alert to give their aid:—
Such is the service by them paid,
While still they do not cast aside
The cap and broidered axe—their pride.
Ye servants of our line of kings,
Remember him from whom it springs.
Remember him from whom it springs;—
Let this give to your virtue wings.
Seek harmony with Heaven's great mind;—
So shall you surest blessing find.
Ere Shang had lost the nation's heart,
Its monarchs all with God had part
In sacrifice. From them you see
'Tis hard to keep high Heaven's decree.
[Pg 230] 'Tis hard to keep high Heaven's decree!
O sin not, or you cease to be.
To add true lustre to your name,
See Shang expire in Heaven's dread flame.
For Heaven's high dealings are profound,
And far transcend all sense and sound.
From Wan your pattern you must draw,
And all the States will own your law.

[Selections from Book II are omitted.]

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