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The Book of Songs 詩經

大雅‧文王之什‧緜 Greater odes of the kingdom - Decade Of Wen Wang - Mian

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In long trains ever increasing grow the gourds.
When [our] people first sprang,
From the country about the Ju and the Qi,
The ancient duke Dan-fu,
Made for them kiln-like huts and caves,
Ere they had yet any houses.


The ancient duke Dan-fu,
Came in the morning, galloping his horses,
Along the banks of the western rivers,
To the foot of [mount] Qi;
And there, he and the lady Jiang,
Came, and together looked out for a site on which to settle.

The plain of Zhou looked beautiful and rich,
With its violets and sowthistles [sweet] as dumplings.
There he began with consulting [his followers];
There he singed the tortoise-shell, [and divined].
The responses were - there to stay, and then;
And they proceeded there to build their houses.


He encouraged the people and settled them;
Here on the left, there on the right.
He divided the ground into larger tracts and smaller portions;
He dug the ditches; he defined the acres;
From the west to the east,
There was nothing which he did not take in hand.


He called his superintendent of works;
He called his minister of instruction;
And charged them with the building of the houses.
With the line they made everything straight;
They bound the frame-boards tight, so that they should rise regularly.
Uprose the ancestral temple in its solemn grandeur.

Crowds brought the earth in baskets
They threw it with shouts into the frames;
They beat it with responsive blows;
They pared the walls repeatedly, and they sounded strong.
Five thousand cubits of them arose together,
So that the roll of the great drum did not overpower [the noise of the builders].


They set up the gate of the enceinte;
And the gate of the enceinte stood high.
They set up the court gate;
And the court gate stood grand.
They reared the great altar [to the Spirits of the land],
From which all great movements should proceed.


Thus though he could nto prevent the rage [of his foes],
He did not let fall his own fame.
The oaks and the Yu were [gradually] thinned,
And roads for travelling were opened.
The hordes of the Hun disappeared,
Startled and panting.


[The chiefs of] Yu and Rui were brought to an agreement,
By king Wen's stimulating their natural virtue.
Then, I may say, some came to him, previously not knowing him;
And some, drawn the last by the first;
And some, drawn by his rapid success;
Ans some, by his defence [of the weak] from insult.


English translation: James Legge

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