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Song intimates how, though there is sincerity in one's contention, he will yet meet with opposition and obstruction; but if he cherish an apprehensive caution, there will be good fortune, while, if he must prosecute the contention to the (bitter) end, there will be evil. It will be advantageous to see the great man; it will not be advantageous to cross the great stream.
The upper portion of Song is (the trigram representing) strength, and the lower (that representing) peril. (The coming together of) strength and peril gives (the idea in) Song. 'Song intimates how, though there is sincerity in one's contention, he will yet meet with opposition and obstruction; but if he cherish an apprehensive caution, there will be good fortune:' - a strong (line) has come and got the central place (in the lower trigram).'If he must prosecute the contention to the (bitter) end, there will be evil:' - contention is not a thing to be carried on to extremity. 'It will be advantageous to meet with the great man:' - what he sets a value on is the due mean, and the correct place. 'It will not be advantageous to cross the great stream:' - one (attempting to do so) would find himself in an abyss.
(The trigram representing) heaven and (that representing) water, moving away from each other, form Song. The superior man, in accordance with this, in the transaction of affairs takes good counsel about his first steps.
The first SIX, divided, shows its subject not perpetuating the matter about which (the contention is). He will suffer the small (injury) of being spoken against, but the end will be fortunate.
'He does not perpetuate the matter about which (the contention is):' - contention should not be prolonged. Although 'he may suffer the small (injury) of being spoken against,' his argument is clear.
The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject unequal to the contention. If he retire and keep concealed (where) the inhabitants of his city are (only) three hundred families, he will fall into no mistake.
'He is unequal to the contention; he retires and keeps concealed, stealthily withdrawing from it:' - for him from his lower place to contend with (the stronger one) above, would be to (invite) calamity, as if he brought it with his hand to himself.
The third SIX, divided, shows its subject keeping in the old place assigned for his support, and firmly correct. Perilous as the position is, there will be good fortune in the end. Should he perchance engage in the king's business, he will not (claim the merit of) achievement.
'He confines himself to the support assigned to him of old:' - (thus) following those above him, he will have good fortune
The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject unequal to the contention. He returns to (the study of Heaven's) ordinances, changes (his wish to contend), and rests in being firm and correct. There will be good fortune.
'He returns to (the study of Heaven's) ordinances, changes (his wish to contend), and rests in being firm and correct:' - he does not fail (in doing what is right).
S. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject contending - and with great good fortune.
'He contends; - and 'with great fortune: - this is shown by his holding the due mean and being in the correct place.
The topmost NINE, undivided, shows how its subject may have the leathern belt conferred on him (by the sovereign), and thrice it shall be taken from him in a morning.
'He receives the robe through his contention:' - but still be is not deserving of respect.
English translation: Legge 1882
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