Celebrating King Wan

by Confucius


The royal Wan now rests on high,
Enshrined in brightness of the sky.
Chow as a state had long been known,
And Heaven's decree at last was shown.
Its lords had borne a glorious name;
God kinged them when the season came.
King Wan ruled well when earth he trod;
Now moves his spirit near to God.
A strong-willed, earnest king was Wan,
And still his fame rolls widening on.
The gifts that God bestowed on Chow
Belong to Wan's descendants now.
Heaven blesses still with gifts divine
The hundred scions of his line;
And all the officers of Chow
From age to age more lustrous grow.
More lustrous still from age to age,
All reverent plans their zeal engage;
And brilliant statesmen owe their birth
To this much-favored spot of earth.
They spring like products of the land--
The men by whom the realm doth stand.
Such aid their numerous bands supply,
That Wan rests tranquilly on high.
Deep were Wan's thoughts, sustained his ways;
His reverence lit its trembling rays.
Resistless came great Heaven's decree;
The sons of Shang must bend the knee;--
The sons of Shang, each one a king,
In numbers beyond numbering.
Yet as God spoke, so must it be:--
The sons of Shang all bent the knee.
Now each to Chow his homage pays--
So dark and changing are Heaven's ways.
When we pour our libations here,
The officers of Shang appear,
Quick and alert to give their aid:--
Such is the service by them paid,
While still they do not cast aside
The cap and broidered axe--their pride.
Ye servants of our line of kings,
Remember him from whom it springs.
Remember him from whom it springs;--
Let this give to your virtue wings.
Seek harmony with Heaven's great mind;--
So shall you surest blessing find.
Ere Shang had lost the nation's heart,
Its monarchs all with God had part
In sacrifice. From them you see
'Tis hard to keep high Heaven's decree.
'Tis hard to keep high Heaven's decree!
O sin not, or you cease to be.
To add true lustre to your name,
See Shang expire in Heaven's dread flame.
For Heaven's high dealings are profound,
And far transcend all sense and sound.
From Wan your pattern you must draw,
And all the States will own your law.

Last updated January 14, 2019