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The Book of Songs 詩經

大雅‧蕩之什‧蕩 Greater odes of the kingdom - Decade Of Dang - Dang

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How vast is God,
The ruler of men below!
How arrayed in terrors is God,
With many things irregular in His ordinations!
Heaven gave birth to the multitudes of the people,
But the nature it confers is not to be depended on.
All are [good] at first,
But few prove themselves to be so at the last.


King Wen said, 'Alas!
Alas! you [sovereign of] Yin-shang,
That you should have such violently oppressive ministers,
That you should have such extortionate exactors,
That you should have them in offices,
That you should have them in the conduct of affairs!
Heaven made them with their insolent dispositions,
But it is you who employ them, and give them strength.'


King Wen said, 'Alas!
Alas! you [sovereign of] Yin-shang,
You ought to employ such as are good,
But [you employ instead] violent oppressors, who cause many dissatisfactions.
They respond to you with baseless stories,
And [thus] robbers and thieves are in your court.
Thence come oaths and curses,
Without limit, without end. '


King Wen said, 'Alas!
Alas! you [sovereign of] Yin-shang,
You show a strong fierce will in the centre of the kingdom,
And consider the contracting of enmities a proof of virtue.
All unintelligent are you of your [proper] virtue,
And so you have no [good] men behind you, nor by your side.
Without any intelligence of your [proper] virtue,
You have no [good] intimate adviser nor minister. '


King Wen said, 'Alas!
Alas! you [sovereign of] Yin-shang,
It is not Heaven that flushes your face with spirits,
So that you follow what is evil and imitate it.
You go wrong in all your conduct;
You make no distinction between the light and the darkness;
But amid clamour and shouting,
You turn the day into night. '


King Wen said, 'Alas!
Alas! you [sovereign of] Yin-shang,
[All around you] is like the noise of cicadas,
Or like the bubbling of boiling soup.
Affairs, great and small, are approaching to ruin;
And still you [and your creatures] go on in this course.
Indignation is rife against you here in the Middle kingdom,
And extends to the demon regions. '


King Wen said, 'Alas!
Alas! you [sovereign of] Yin-shang,
It is not God that has caused this evil time,
But it arises from Yin's not using the old [ways].
Although you have not old experienced men,
There are still the ancient statutes and laws.
But you will not listen to them,
And so your great appointment is being overthrown. '


King Wen said, 'Alas!
Alas! you [sovereign of] Yin-shang,
People have a saying,
'When a tree falls utterly,
While its branches and leaves are yet uninjured,
It must first have been uprooted. '
The beacon of Yin is not far-distant; -
It is in the age of the [last] sovereign of Xia. '



English translation: James Legge

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