The Condition Of King Seuen's Flocks

by Confucius


Who dares to say your sheep are few?
The flocks are all three hundred strong.
Who dares despise your cattle too?
There ninety, black-lipped, press along.
Though horned the sheep, yet peaceful each appears;
The cattle come with moist and flapping ears.
These climb the heights, those drink the pool;
Some lie at rest, while others roam.
With rain-coats, and thin splint hats cool,
And bearing food, your herdsmen come.
In thirties, ranged by hues, the creatures stand;
Fit victims they will yield at your command.
Your herdsmen twigs and fagots bring,
With prey of birds and beasts for food.
Your sheep, untouched by evil thing,
Approach, their health and vigor good.
The herdsman's waving hand they all behold,
And docile come, and pass into the fold.
Your herdsmen dream;--fish take the place
Of men; on banners falcons fly,
Displacing snakes and tortoises.
The augur tells his prophecy:--
"The first betoken plenteous years; the change
Of banners shows of homes a widening range."

Last updated January 14, 2019