A Picture Of Husbandry

by Confucius


Various the toils which fields so large demand!
We choose the seed; we take our tools in hand.
In winter for our work we thus prepare;
Then in the spring, bearing the sharpened 'share,
We to the acres go that south incline,
And to the earth the different seeds consign.
Soon, straight and large, upward each plant aspires;--
All happens as our noble lord desires.
The plants will ear; within their sheath confined,
The grains will harden, and be good in kind.
Nor darnel these, nor wolf's-tail grass infests;
From core and leaf we pick the insect pests,
And pick we those that eat the joints and roots:--
So do we guard from harm the growing fruits.
May the great Spirit, whom each farmer names,
Those insects take, and cast them to the flames!
The clouds o'erspread the sky in masses dense,
And gentle rain down to the earth dispense.
First may the public fields the blessing get,
And then with it our private fields we wet!
Patches of unripe grain the reaper leaves;
And here and there ungathered are the sheaves.
Handfuls besides we drop upon the ground,
And ears untouched in numbers lie around;--
These by the poor and widows shall be found.
When wives and children to the toilers come,
Bringing provisions from each separate home,
Our lord of long descent shall oft appear;
The Inspector also, glad the men to cheer.
They too shall thank the Spirits of the air,
With sacrifices pure for all their care;
Now red, now black, the victims that they slay,
As North or South the sacrifice they pay;
While millet bright the altars always show;--
And we shall thus still greater blessings know.

Last updated January 14, 2019