Ezra Pound





from King Wen


The simplicity and written civilization of Chou supersedes
                 the bronze and luxury of Yin-Shang.

Glare King Owen, rooted above,
light as the light of heaven.
Chou, though old, had
the decree, twice-given.

1
Bright, aloft, Wen, glitteringly,
Chou, tho’ an old regime, gat new decree;
Had not Chou been there like the sun’s fountainhead
the supernal seals had never caught sun’s turn
that King Wen tread
up, down, to stand
with the heavenly veils to left hand and right hand.

2
Untiring Wen that hath untiring fame,
such order and such resource by him came
to Chou with sons and grandsons of Wen,
to sons of grandsons and collateral,
root, branch, an hundred generations; and all
Chou’s officers; is it not said:
Such source is as of light a fountainhead?

3
Is he not so the sun above his clan,
and they the radiant wings gleaming to flank?
Think on the lustre of our officers
born in the kingly state,
whom this state bred and holds; Chou’s pace
orders them all --- to King Wen’s quietness.

4
Wen, like a field of grain beneath the sun
when all the white wheat moves in unison,
coherent, splendid in severity,
Sought out the norm and scope of Heaven’s Decree
till myriad Shang were brought under fealty.
Shang and his line in all their opulence
5
Now stand in livery for Chou’s defence, that all
may know Sky’s favour is not perpetual,
so no man’s luck shall hold.
Yin men, now, when we pour
wine to our manes, stand about the door
with tiger’s grace and ease,
clad in their antient splendid broideries,
faithful at court and in the battle line,
mindful what NUMEN stands within the shrine.

6
Mindful what manes stand here to preside;
what insight to what action is conjoint,
long may we drink the cup of fellowship,
Yin’s pride in mind, always to show the point,
a tub of water wherein to note
thy face. Had Yin not lost the full assembly’s vote
He had long held to drink with the Most High,
yet mistook fate for mere facility.

7
High destiny’s not borne without its weight
(equity lives not save by constant probe)
Be not thy crash as Yin’s from skies, foreseen.
The working of Heaven hath neither sound nor smell,
Be thy cut form of justice as Wen’s was, shall rise
ten thousand states, thine, and with candour in all.