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周書 牧誓 Zhou Shu - Speech at Mu

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The time was the grey dawn of the day Jia-zi. On that morning the king came to the open country of Mu, in the borders of Shang, and addressed his army. In his left hand he carried a battle-axe yellow with gold, and in his right he held a white ensign, which he waved, saying, 'Far are ye come, ye men of the western regions!' He added, 'Ah! ye hereditary rulers of my friendly states; ye managers of affairs - the Ministers of Instruction, of War, and of Works; the great officers subordinate to these, and the many other officers; the master of my body-guards; the captains of thousands and captains of hundreds; and ye, O men of Yong, Shu, Qiang, Mao, Wei, Lu, Peng, and Pu, lift up your lances, join your shields, raise your spears: I have a speech to make.'


The king (then) said, 'The ancients have said, "The hen does not announce the morning. The crowing of a hen in the morning (indicates) the subversion of the family." Now Shou, the king of Shang, follows only the words of his wife. In his blindness he has neglected the sacrifices which he ought to offer, and makes no response (for the favours that he has received); he has also cast off his paternal and maternal relations, not treating them properly. They are only the vagabonds from all quarters, loaded with crimes, whom he honours and exalts, whom he employs and trusts, making them great officers and high nobles, so that they can tyrannize over the people, and exercise their villainies in the cities of Shang.


'Now, I, Fa, am simply executing, respectfully the punishment appointed by Heaven. In to-day's business do not advance more than six or seven steps, and then stop and adjust your ranks; my brave men, be energetic! Do not exceed four blows, five blows, six blows, or seven blows, and then stop and adjust your ranks; my brave men, be energetic! Display a martial bearing. Be like tigers and panthers, like bears and grisly bears, (here) in the borders of Shang. Do not rush on those who fly (to us in submission), but receive them to serve our western land; my brave men, be energetic! If you be not energetic (in all these matters), you will bring destruction on yourselves.'

English translation: James Legge

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