On The Completion Of A Royal Palace

by Confucius


On yonder banks a palace, lo! upshoots,
The tender blue of southern hill behind;
Firm-founded, like the bamboo's clamping roots;
Its roof made pine-like, to a point defined.
Fraternal love here bears its precious fruits,
And unfraternal schemes be ne'er designed!
Ancestral sway is his. The walls they rear,
Five thousand cubits long; and south and west
The doors are placed. Here will the king appear,
Here laugh, here talk, here sit him down and rest.
To mould the walls, the frames they firmly tie;
The toiling builders beat the earth and lime.
The walls shall vermin, storm, and bird defy;--
Fit dwelling is it for his lordly prime.
Grand is the hall the noble lord ascends;--
In height, like human form most reverent, grand;
And straight, as flies the shaft when bow unbends;
Its tints, like hues when pheasant's wings expand.
High pillars rise the level court around;
The pleasant light the open chamber steeps;
And deep recesses, wide alcoves, are found,
Where our good king in perfect quiet sleeps.
Laid is the bamboo mat on rush mat square;--
Here shall he sleep, and, waking, say, "Divine
What dreams are good? For bear and grizzly bear,
And snakes and cobras, haunt this couch of mine."
Then shall the chief diviner glad reply,
"The bears foreshow that Heaven will send you sons.
The snakes and cobras daughters prophesy.
These auguries are all auspicious ones.
"Sons shall be his--on couches lulled to rest.
The little ones, enrobed, with sceptres play;
Their infant cries are loud as stern behest;
Their knees the vermeil covers shall display.
As king hereafter one shall be addressed;
The rest, our princes, all the States shall sway.
"And daughters also to him shall be born.
They shall be placed upon the ground to sleep;
Their playthings tiles, their dress the simplest worn;
Their part alike from good and ill to keep,
And ne'er their parents' hearts to cause to mourn;
To cook the food, and spirit-malt to steep."

Last updated January 14, 2019