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The Book of Songs 詩經

大雅‧蕩之什‧召旻 Greater odes of the kingdom - Decade Of Dang - Shao Min

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Compassionate Heaven is arrayed in angry terrors;
Heaven is indeed sending down ruin,
Afflicting us with famine,
So that the people are all wandering fugitives; -
In the settled regions and on the borders all is desolation.


Heaven sends down its net of crime; -
Devouring insects, who weary and confuse men's minds,
Ignorant, oppressive, neglient,
Breeders of confusion, utterly perverse:
These are the men employed to tranquilize our country.


Insolent and slanderous, -
[The king] does not know a flaw in them.
We, careful and feeling in peril,
For long in unrest,
Are constantly subjected to degradation.


As in a year of drought,
The grass not attaining to luxuriance;
As water plants attached to a tree;
So do I see in this country,
All going to confusion.


The wealth of former days,,
Was not like our present condition.
The distress of the present,
Did not previously reach this degree.
Those are [like] coarse rice, these are [like] fine; -
Why do you not retire of yourselves,
But prolong my anxious sorrow?

A pool becomes dry, -
Is it not because no water comes to it from its banks?
A spring becomes dry, -
Is it not because no water rises in it from itself?
Great is the injury [all about].
So that my anxious sorrow is increased.
Will not calamity light on my person?


Formerly when the former kings received their appointment,
There were such ministers as the duke of Shao,
Who would in a day enlarge the kingdom a hundred li;
Now it is contracted in a day a hundred li.
Oh! Alas!
Among the men of the present day,
Are there not still some with the old virtue?



English translation: James Legge

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