Bright was that milky way, Shining and revolving in the sky. The king said, 'Oh! What crime is chargeable on us now, That Heaven [thus] sends down death and disorder? Famine comes again and again. There is no victim I have grudged; Our maces and other tokens are exhausted: How is it that I am not heard?
'The drought is excessive; Its fervours become more and more tormenting. I have not ceased offering pure sacrifices; From the border altars I have gone to the ancestral temple. To the [Powers] above and below I have presented my offerings and then buried them: There is no Spirit whom I have not honoured. Hou-ji is not equal to the occasion; God does not come to us. This wasting and ruin of our country, - Would that it fell [only] on me!
'The drought is excessive; And I may not try to excuse myself. I am full of terror and feel the peril, Like the clap of thunder or the roll. Of the remnant of Zhou, among the black-haired people, There will not be half a man left; Nor will God from His great heaven, Exempt [even] me. Shall we not mingle our fears together? [The sacrifices to] my ancestors will be extinguished.
'The drought is excessive; And it cannot be stopped. More fierce and fiery, It is leaving me no place. My end is near; - I have none to look up to, none to look around to. The many dukes and their ministers of the past, Give me no help. O ye parents and [nearer] ancestors, How can ye bear to see us thus?
'The drought is excessive; - Parched are the hills, and the streams are dried. The demon of drought exercises his oppression. As if scattering flames and fire. My heart is terrified with the heat; - My sorrowing heart is as if on fire. The many dukes and their ministers of the past, Do not hear me, O God, from Thy great heaven, Grant me the liberty to withdraw [into retirement]!
'The drought is excessive; - I struggle, and fear to go away. How is it I am afflicted with this drought? I cannot ascertain the cause of it. In praying for a good year I was abundantly early; I was not late [in sacrificing] to [the Spirits] of the four quarters and of the land. God in the great heaven, Does not consider me. Reverent to the intelligent Spirits, I ought not to be thus the object of their anger.
'The drought is excessive; - All is dispersion, and the bonds of government are relaxed. Reduced to extremities are the Heads of departments; Full of distress are my chief minister, The master of the horse, the commander of the guards, The chief cook, and my attendants. There is no one who has not [tried to] help [the people]; They have not refrained on the ground of being unable. I look up to the great heaven; - Why am I plunged in this sorrow?
'I look up to the great heaven, But its stars sparkle bright. My great officers and excellent men, Ye have drawn near [to Heaven] with reverence with all your powers. Death is approaching, But do not cast away what you have done. You are seeking not for me only, But to give rest to all our departments. I look up to the great heaven; - When shall I be favoured with repose?