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The Book of Songs 詩經

小雅‧節南山之什‧節南山 Minor odes of the kingdom - Jie Nan Shan Zhi Shen - Jie Nan Shan

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Lofty is that southern hill,
With its masses of rocks!
Awe-inspiring are you, O [Grand] master Yin,
And the people all look to you!
A fire burns in their grieving hearts;
They do not dare to speak of you even in jest.
The kingdom is verging to extinction; -
How is it that you do not consider the state of things?


Lofty is that southern hill,
And vigorously grows the vegetation on it!
Awe-inspiring are you, O [Grand] master Yin,
But how is it that you are so unjust?
Heaven is continually redoubling its afflictions;
Deaths and disorder increase and multiply;
No words of satisfaction come from the people;
And yet you do not correct nor bemoan yourself!


The Grand-master Yin,
Is the foundation of our Zhou,
And the balance of the State is in his hands.
He should be keeping together the four quarters [of the kingdom];
He should be aiding the Son of Heaven,
So as to preserve the people from going astray.
O unpitying great Heaven,
It is not right he should reduce us all to such misery!


Doing nothing himself personally,
The people have no confidence in him,
By making no inquiry, and no trial of their services,
He should not deal deceitfully with superior men.
By dismissing them on the requirement of justice,
Mean men would not be endangering [the common weal];
And his mean relatives,
Would not be in offices of importance.


Great Heaven, unjust,
Is sending down these exhausting disorders.
Great Heaven, unkind,
Is sending down these great miseries.
Let superior men come [into office],
And that would bring rest to the people's hearts.
Let superior men do justly,
And the animosities and angers would disappear.


O unpitying, great Heaven,
There is no end to the disorder!
With every month it continues to grow,
So that the people have no repose.
I am as if intoxicated with the grief of my heart.
Who holds the ordering of the kingdom?
Not attending himself to the government,
The issue is toil and pain to the people.


I yoke my four steeds,
My four steeds, long-necked.
I look to the four quarters [of the kingdom];
Distress is everywhere; there is nowhere I can drive to.

Now your evil is rampant,
And I see your spears.
Again you are pacified and friendly,
As if you were pledging one another.


From great Heaven is the injustice,
And our king has no repose.
[Yet] he will not correct his heart,
And goes on to resent endeavours to rectify him.


I, Jia-fu, have made this song,
To lay bare the king's disorders.
If you would but change your heart,
And nourish the myriad States! -


English translation: James Legge

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