Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chapter 2 Part 3

King Zhou of the Shang, the Son of Heaven, was ecstatic after hearing what Shang Rong had to say, and he said, ‘Your words are extremely good.’ And so this was what he commanded of the Officers of the Yellow Gate: ‘Summon the Four Greater Barons before me; the other Barons I shall greet outside.’

When the Four Greater Barons received their summons to see the King, they tidied their dress, and wore their best jade; they walked through the Gate past the ? of Nine Dragons. When they reached the Courtyard, they heard a loud cry instructing them to pay their respects to the King, and they all prostrated themselves before him. The King said, very gently, ‘You have all very kindly made your way to pay me tribute, and you have helped me greatly in my endeavours. Even though you were physically afar, yet it seems as if you are always working hard beside me; how noble your deeds are! I am extremely happy with all this!’

Monday, October 08, 2007

Chapter 2 Part 3

The Four Greater Barons led their 800 vassals in tribute to King Zhou of the Shang during the fourth month of the eighth year of the King’s reign. The names of the Four Greater Barons were Jiang Hengchu, the Greater Baron of the East; E Congyu, the Greater Baron of the South; Ji Chang, the Greater Baron of the West; and Cong Houhu, the Greater Baron of the North.

So it was that the Greater and Lesser Barons visited Chaoge City. During this visit, the Grand Minister Wen Zhong was not in the City, and the King began to dote heavily on Fei Zhong and You Hun. The Barons subsequently discovered the King’s reliance on Fei Zhong and You Hun’s assistance in the administrative matters of the Court, and as they wanted to use the power Fei Zhong and You Hun wielded, they began to lavish gifts upon the both of them. As the saying goes: ‘One must flatter the First Ministers before meeting the Sons of Heaven.’

Amongst the Barons, there was a Baron who came from Yizhou, who was surnamed Su and named Hu. Su Hu had a fiery temper and was unusually principled; he did not want much knowledge of currying favours in order to advance in a race. Whenever he witnessed unjust or illegal practices, he always took care to right these accordingly, and was neither too lenient, nor too strict. And accordingly, he did not bring any gifts for Fei Zhong and You Hun.

As things went, on that day Fei Zhong and You Hun were examining the gifts the Barons had given them, and they became furious on discovering that Su Hu alone had not given them anything. They began to bear a grudge against him, albeit silently.

The days passed, and on the auspicious morning of the first day of the first moon, the King Zhou of the Shang, the Son of Heaven, held Court and summoned his Literati and the Martial Officers for a celebration. The Officer of the Yellow Gate bowed to the King, and said, ‘Your Majesty! This year is the year of the gathering of the Court, and the Greater and Lesser Barons are all waiting to pay their respects to you outside.' The King consulted his Prime Minister Shang Rong, and Shang Rong said, ‘Your Majesty need only speak to the Four Greater Barons indoors. Ask them how goes their lands and their subjects, and how they rule; as for the rest of the Barons, let them receive your good wishes outside your Palace.’

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Chapter 2 Part 2

'...I have heard this saying: "Happy people who make others happy do so because they make others feel their happiness; worried people who upset others do so because they make others feel their worries." At this moment the coming of droughts and rains are balanced; do not upset this because of your conduct with women. In the past, the great leaders Yao and Shun and their people were happy, and through this peace and goodwill was brought to the land, and as such there were no unnecessary fights or wars. Now, the stars are aligned benevolently, the sweet rains come regularly, the phoenix has landed in your courts, and medicinal herbs grow freely in the wild. The people are certainly satisfied with their lot: when pedestrians bump into each other on a busy road, they take care to let the other cross first. Our dogs do not bark, the rains come at night and depart at dawn, and our crops are growing well. All these good things have happened, and will happen again, when a King displays good and moral conduct. But Your Majesty now thinks only of experiencing immediate pleasures, and of turning an eye to the ladies and to drink and to hunting; these are dangers, and are the first signs of decay and ruin. Your humble servant does not seek to chastise you; rather, he does this because he is your Prime Minister, and has served Your Majesty’s family for three generations. Your humble servant beseeches you to continue with your good conduct and to be moral, both with the people and with the world, and riches will come naturally to the people; this will lead to peace under the sky and within the four seas, and you, Your Majesty, will share unending joy with your people. Your servant sees that the wars in the North Sea have not stopped; he asks Your Majesty to consider Your Majesty’s conduct and to love your people there; take heed of their possessions, and your will have their hearts. This was what Yao and Shun did. Why choose servants from each region, and then build your joy upon this? Your servant means not to chastise you, and begs your forgiveness!’

King Zhou of the Shang pondered these words for a long, long time, and eventually responded, ‘Your words are sensible, and I shall follow them.’ He returned to his Palace after saying this, and so his Court recessed.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chapter 2 Part 1

Another milestone: here comes Chapter 2 of the Nerdy Fengshen Translation! I'm quite surprised to have made it this far ;), and there was a lot of detail that I'd never noticed before when I read for fun. For example, the King comes across as a good guy who becomes obsessed with women, Nuwa comes across as heavy-handed, and the King's men come across as being rather spineless. Why does the King keep referring to Nuwa's face? Apparently, she had the head of a human and the body of a snake. Quite how she managed to create humans and patch the sky without any hands is something of a mystery. Anyway, here's Part 1 of Chapter 2.

Chapter 2 Su Hu of Shangzhou rebels against King Zhou

'What brave souls dare come together when prime ministers flatter kings?
The visits of the lords and barons have already happened, and the time one spends documenting words is wasted.'

Back we come to King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty, who was returning to his palace, rejoicing at what he had just heard.

A night passed, and the next morning, he summoned his literati and martial officers before him, and told them all, ‘At our edict, command the Barons to sweep over the land, and select a hundred beautiful girls for us. We do not care if the girls are rich or poor, so long as they are beautiful, gentle, well-mannered and generous. They will serve us in our palace.’

This command of King Zhou of the Shang, the Son of Heaven, had scarcely ended when suddenly, a man prostrated before him, saying, ‘Majesty! Your old servant Shang Rong wishes to speak! If a King has principles, the people he rules over will be so happy that they will follow him even if he does not command them to. Your Majesty now has around a thousand beauties at Your Majesty’s beck and call, not to mention concubines; the people will be disappointed in Your Majesty if Your Majesty still continues with the pursuit of women!…’

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Chapter 1 Part 11

‘…Disguise yourselves, the three of you; get yourselves over to the Palace of King Zhou of the Shang and meddle with his emotions. Assist King Wu of Zhou in his war against him, and help King Wu to win the war. But whatever you do, do not harm others. When your mission is over, you will get your just rewards.’ When the Goddess finished speaking, the three demons kowtowed and thanked her, then, turning into breezes, they drifted out of the Temple. As the saying went: ‘The fox listened to the command, and manifested her powers, and in doing so undid six hundred years of Cheng Tang’s dynasty.’ And what happened next will not be spoken of here.

As for King Zhou of the Shang, he became lovesick, moping about during the day and forgetting to eat at night, just because he saw Nuwa’s beauty after lighting some incense at her Temple. He cast his eye over his Palaces and Courts, and saw naught but dust and ashes; his happiness ebbed away, for he could not get this thought out of his mind.

One day, he went to the Xianqing Palace, as he usually did, and was greeted by Fei Zhong, one of his trusted courtiers who was based at Xianqing. The Grand Marshal Wen, who had recently been away in wildly victorious campaigns near the North Sea, put his trust in Fei Zhong and another man named You Hun. These two men were extremely eloquent, and King Zhou of the Shang followed everything they said.

Upon greeting Fei Zhong, the King said, ‘We went to the Temple of Nuwa to pay our respects and accidentally saw her great, uncomparable beauty. Now, our palaces and lands do not amuse us any more; in fact, one feels nothing about such things. What should one do to get this of this feeling of emptiness? What would you suggest?’ Fei Zhong replied, ‘Your Majesty has the respect of many and the world at your feet; you are as bounteous as Yao and Shun; you have everything you need, and you have the power to get whatever you want. So what is the problem? What I suggest is for Your Majesty to issue an edict to the Barons, telling them to select and fill your palaces with hundreds of beautiful girls, and let them entertain you so that you won’t feel miserable anymore. What do you think?’ The King cheered up, and said, ‘I agree with you; issue the edict tomorrow. I will return to my Palace first.’

And so King Zhou of the Shang returned to his palace. What happened next? Please read the next chapter to find out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chap 1 Part 10

Atop the beam of white light appeared a face, shining brightly and multicoloured, emitting thousands of reflections and shadows; its name was ‘Summoning Demons’. A little while later, the winds howled, a thick fog descended, and dark clouds gathered. The winds strengthened, announcing the arrival of all the Demons under heaven to that Temple to listen to the word of the Goddess. The Goddess Nuwa told her attendant Rosy Clouds to bid the other Demons and Monsters to leave, and to bid only the Three Attendants of the Grave of the Yellow Emperor to remain.

These three Demons entered the Temple together, and said, ‘My Lady’s powers are boundless! Long live My Lady!’ One of the three was a thousand-year old spirit of a vixen, the second was a nine-headed pheasant spirit, and the third was a jadestone lute spirit; together, they prostrated themselves before the Goddess Nuwa in the Red Courtyard of the Temple. Nuwa said to them, ‘listen to my command, O Demons! Cheng Tang’s dynasty must fall and lose the rights to the land. The phoenix calls from Mount Xiqi, heralding the birth of the one from the Land of West Zhou who will replace them! Heaven has decreed this…’

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chap 1 Part 9

'What a corrupt ruler King Zhou is! He doesn’t think of improving himself so that he can rule his land. Instead, he is fearless of Heaven and has dared to even flirt with me through his poetry! How evil this is! Well, I suppose six hundred years have passed since Cheng Tang defeated Xia Jie to become King; the time his descendants were given has come up. I would not be showing my divinity if no reaction is given to this King’s poem.' So she summoned her pageboy, Twilight’s Clouds, and together they rode on blue clouds towards the City of Chaoge, where they saw the two Crown Princes, Prince Yin Hong and Prince Yin Jiao, visiting their father, King Zhou of the Shang. Later, Prince Yin Jiao would be known as the Ancient One on the List of Appointed Gods, and his brother Prince Yin Hong would become the God of Grains and Cereals; the both of them were notable Gods who were Generals when they were human.

During the Princes’ visit, two rays of red light bolted through the sky. The Goddess Nuwa was prevented from going ahead by the two rays of red light, and she peered down at the scene below. She noted that the King still had 28 years of good luck left to him, and that she was not allowed to tamper with this, so she returned, unhappily, to her Temple.

There, she summoned another page, Rosy Clouds, to go to the back of the Temple and bring her the Golden Calabash, which she then put in the Red Courtyard in the Temple. She took off the stopper on the Calabash, and pointed; a beam of white light as large as a pillar, as high as four or five zhang,shot out of the Calabash.