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09. Songs of King Wen
- Standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
Wen Wang Qu
The background to the lyrics is Old Duke Danfu (gu Gong Dan Fu, see Tai Wang) taking the people of Zhou from Bin to Mount Qi; this story was related in #4 Qishan Cao. Danfu's son Duke Ji (also called King Ji) married Lady Ren, who bore Chang. Chang became Civil King (Wen Wang; 1152 – 1056). After marrying an unnamed lady, Wen Wang and a Lady Xin had a son, who became Martial King (Wu Wang). Wen Wang began the struggle against the Shang and Wu Wang finally defeated them and established the Zhou dynasty ca. 1046 BCE (the precision of all the early dates given here is disputed).
The only setting of these poems is here in Taigu Yiyin (1511). The tablature does not have punctuation or indicate divisions. They direct one first to sing the titles of each poem, with its brief explanation, then the lyrics.
The preface begins by mentioning the title of Shi Jing #235, "Wen Wang", as well as the three that are used for lyrics here. Heaven "restored its mandate to Wu Wang" because by the time the Shang dynasty was overthrown Wu Wang's father Wen Wang had died. In 1043, after Wu Wang died, his brother Zhou Gong served as regent, running the kingdom for several years on behalf of Wu Wang's son, Cheng Wang.
Original preface (translation latter part is tentative) 5
Such sections of Da Ya as "Wen Wang", "Great Brilliance", "Spreading", and "Oak Trees" all make clear the virtue of Wen Wang, so that Heaven restored its mandate to Wu Wang. Zhou Gong wrote them to caution (Wu Wang's son) Cheng Wang. Shi Xiang (who is said to have taught the melody to Confucius) clothed it as instrumental music in order to play it in the sacrificial temple. He offered it to ghosts and spirits, and used it for the flourishing of civil matters for a generation. Alas! "The Great Lord approaches. Do not be of two minds." Entrust to the hands, and you can get the body and mind. (?)
Music and Lyrics6
Three sections (i.e., three poems); the verses of each poem are marked here with Roman letters. None of these divisions is indicated in the tablature. The music largely follows a syllabic structure, but this is broken up occasionally by repeated phrases (indicated ....) and in many places by ornaments. The title of each section (here in bold) is also set to music.
Ming ming zai xia, he he zai shang.......
(King Wen was) illustrious below, (while Heaven was) glorious above.
Tian nan chen si, bu yi wei wang.
Heaven is difficult to count on: it's not easy to remain king.
Tian wei Yin di, shi bu jia si fang.
Heaven made for Yin an enemy, so they could not hold their lands.
Zhi zhong shi Ren, zi bi Yin Shang.
From Zhi (country) was Zhong of family Ren, she was from the Yin Shang clans.
Lai jia yu Zhou, yue pin yu jing.
She came to get married in Zhou, and so became a wife in the capital.
Nai ji Wang Ji, wei de zhi xing.
Thus with King Ji, she joined in virtuous deeds.
Tai Ren you zhen, sheng ci Wen Wang.
Tairen became pregnant, and gave birth to (the future) King Wen.
Wei ci Wen Wang, xiao xin yi yi.
As for this King Wen, (he was) careful and reverent.
Zhao shi Shang Di, yu huai duo fu.
(So) he illustriously served God on high, (thus) gaining many blessings.
Jue de bu hui, yi shou fang guo.
His virtue did not go astray, so he absorbed (neighboring) local states.
Tian jian zai xia, you ming ji ju. Heaven examined what was below, and had its mandate put into (King Wen's) nest.
Wen Wang chu zai, tian zuo zhi he.
During King Wen's early work, heaven made for him a match.
Zai He zhi yang, zai Wei zhi si.
(She was) from the He River's north side, on the Wei River's bank.
Wen Wang jia zhi, da bang you zi.
King Wen admired her, the great country had a child.
Da Bang you zi, xian tian zhi mei.
The great country had a child, fair as heaven's sister.
Wen ding jue xiang, guan ying yu Wei.
Wen fixed their lucky day, and welcomed her at the Wei river.
Zao zhou wei liang, pi xian qi guang.
They made boats into a bridge, dazzling in brightness.
You ming zi tian, ming ci Wen Wang.
There came a command from heaven, with orders for this King Wen.
Yu Zhou yu jing, zuan nü wei Xin.
In Zhou, his capital, "for succession (as queen) the lady must be (from) Xin.
Chang zi wei xing, du sheng Wu Wang.
Her being eldest child allows this act;" so it was she who bore King Wu.
"Bao you ming er, xie fa Da Shang."
"Safety and help are granted (Zhou), when attacking the Great Shang (dynasty)."
Yin Shang zhi lü qi hui ru lin.
Yin Shang's troops massed, so that (their lances) seemed like a forest.
Shi yu Mu Ye, wei yu hou xing.
When they arrayed at Mu Ye, (Wen) said, "We'll rise in timely fashion.
Shang Di lin ru, wu er er xin.
God on high is watching you, let no second thoughts come into your hearts."
Mu Ye yang yang, tan ju huang huang.
Mu Ye's (fields) were very broad, the wooden war chariots were brilliant.
Si yuan peng peng, wei shi Shang Fu.
The teams of horses were powerful, as commander was Shang Fu.
Shi wei ying yang, liang bi Wu Wang.
At that time (Shang Fu) was powerful as an eagle, as he assisted Wu Wang.
Si fa Da Shang, hui zhao qing ming.
(So) they attacked Great Shang, and by dawn (victory was) clear.
Mian. Wen Wang zhi xing, ben you da wang ye.
Spreading: King Wen's prosperity originated with the Great King (DanFu).
Mian mian gua die, min zhi chu sheng.
Spreading and spreading were young melons, thus we (Zhou) first came alive.
Zi tu Ju Qi, Gu Gong Dan fu.
(We came) from the lands of the Ju and Qi (rivers), (of) old Duke Danfu.
Tao fou tao xue, wei you jia shi.
(He had us) build shelters (and) build caves, we did not yet have houses.
Gu Gong Danfu, lai zhao zou ma.........
Of old Duke Danfu arrived early, galloping on his horse.
Shuai xi shui hu, zhi yu Qi xia.
Leading (us) westward along the riverbank, we arrived below Mount Qi.
Yuan ji Jiang nü, yu lai xu yu.
Together with Lady Jiang, he had come to secure a home.
Zhou yuan wu wu, jin tu ru yi.
The Zhou plain was fertile, (its) common plants (tasting) like sweet cakes.
Yuan shi yuan mou, yuan qi wo gui.
"Here we begin, here we plan, here we notch our tortoises (for divination)."
Yue: "Zhi", yue: "Shi, zhu shi yu zi."
(These) said, "Stop"; (and) said, "Now build houses in this place."
Nai wei nai zhi, nai zuo nai you.
So we made homes, so we stopped (to rest), so (we lived to) left and right.
Nai jiang nai li, nai xuan nai mu.
So (we made) plots large and small, so we reclaimed land and opened fields.
Zi xi cu dong, Zhou yuan zhi shi.
From west to east, Zhou thus managed our affairs.
Nai zhao si kong, nai zhao si tu.
So (Danfu) gave orders to the Building Master, (and) orders to the Lands Master.
Bei li shi jia, qi sheng ze zhi.
So when they built homes, their plumblines would be straight.
Suo ban yi zai, ...., zhuo miao yi yi.
Tying up boards to contain (the earth), we made a temple that was majestic.
Ju zhi "reng reng", du zhi "hong hong".
Hauling earth sounded like "reng reng", shoveling like "hong hong".
Zhu zhi "deng deng", xiao lü "ping ping".
Beating walls sounding like "deng deng", shaping them went "ping ping".
Bao du jie xing, gao gu fu sheng.
In all, 100 cubits were raised, and the drum beating was drowned out.
Nai li gao men, gao men you kang.
So when we raised the outer gate, the outer gate was lofty.
Nai li ying men, ying men jiang jiang.
So when we raised the inner gate, the inner gate was strong.
Nai li zhong tu, rong chou you xing.
So we raised a mound of earth, (from which) enemies could be attacked.
Si bu tian jue yun, yi bu yun he wen.
Although this did not end our hardships, we also did not lose our reputations.
Zuo yu ba yi, xing du dui yi.
Oak forests were rooted up, roadways were cleared.
Kun Yi dui yi, wei qi hui yi.
The Kun and Yi tribes rode away, and so their numbers declined.
Yu Rui zhi jue cheng, Wen Wang gui jue sheng.
(When the) Yu and Rui broke their allegiance, King Wen drove them away.
Yu yue: "You shu fu"; yu yue: "You xian hou".
I say, "We made alliances;" I say, "We ordered things properly."
Yu yue: "You ben zou"; yu yue: "You yu wu".
I say, "Some worked urgently;" I say, "Some chastised the insolent."
Yu pu. Wen Wang neng guan ren ye.
Oak Trees: King Wen has the ability to promote good people.
Peng peng yu pu, xin zhi you zhi.
Luxuriant (grow the) oak trees, we dry them and burn them.
Ji ji pi wang, zuo you qu zhi.
Magnificent is our king, left and right they rush to serve him.
Ji ji pi wang, zuo you feng zhang.
Magnificent is our king, left and right people raise scepters.
Feng zhang e e, mao shi you yi.
They raise scepters solemnly, as eminent men it is befitting.
Pi bi Jing zhou, zheng tu ji zhi.
"Pi" go those Jing river boats, vigorous are those who row them.
Zhou wang yu mai, liu shi ji zhi.
The Zhou king going forth, (has) six battalions with him.
Zhuo bi Yun Han, wei zhang yu tian.
Clear is the Milky Way, making its display in the sky.
Zhou wang shou kao, Xia bu zuo ren.
King of Zhou: "Long life!" How could he not make renew us?
Dui zhuo qi zhang, jin yu qi xiang.
Chiselled and carved are his regalia, gold and jade in substance.
Mian mian wo wang, wang ji si fang.
Working and working is our king, netting all of the lands.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Wen Wang Qu 文王曲
13766.xx; 13766.36 Wen Wang Cao refers to #7.
Mode: 徵調 Zhi diao?
Taigu Yiyin does not group melodies by tuning or mode. However, Si Shun is grouped with zhi mode melodies, and the way this melody also shifts tonal centers from gong (do to zhi (sol) is similar to that of other zhi mode melodies.
Tracing the Wen Wang Qu melody
Early in the present melody one can easily here its connection with the melody of the Si Shun in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu; later on it is difficult to notice, seeming to consist only of motifs if at all. The third surviving version, published in 1525 as Wen Wang Si Shi (III/154) is closer to 1491 than it is to 1511. Later versions have not yet been examined carefully.
The original Chinese preface is as follows,
The translation above is not finalized.
The translation above is sometimes awkward, as it was designed to run under the text on my transcription, and so it tries to go word for word.
The original Shi Jing lyrics are included here separately to show more clearly the structure, which is:
(#236) Great Brilliance: King Wen had shining virtue, so Heaven reassigned its mandate to King Wu.
([4+4] x 28 [except that the third couplet is 4+5])
(#237) Spreading: King Wen's prosperity originated with the Great King (i.e., Duke Danfu)
([4+4] x 21, then [5+5] x 1, then [4+4] x 2, then [5+5] x 3)
(#238) Oak Trees: King Wen has the ability to promote good people.
([4+4] x 10)
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