revolution.jpg

Revolution

Once you get the hang of it, you quit when you're ahead. 滿 You assume that when you've got it made, it won't take long to fall apart, and when gold and jewels deck public halls, that nothing can save your neck. 退 When you're rich and powerful, pride comes before a very long fall, so step up, then step back down, that's how nature works.

Notes

This poem is a close parallel to a verse in Guanzi, 滿 滿 退. The Guanzi verse is part of a passage that seems to legitimize King Wu's usurpation, so I'm guessing that this poem was meant to be read in the same context, perhaps as advice on how to avoid the fate of the last Shang king.

Conventional translations of this poem are more literal than my interpretation, taking the subject of the first line as a cup, and of the second as a sword or knife. (Personally, I think the metaphor of the first line is more likely to be a Zhou tipping pot.) I prefer to read the phrases as verb phrase conditionals, and to interpret as bear in mind, as infer and the subject as . I also like the line as a second then statement that also matches .

The poem's Heshang Gong title is , revolving evenly.

as nature is a stretch, but interpreting is always a stretch, so why not?

Vocabulary

chí
手 64 + 6
sustain, support; hold, grasp
ér
而 126 + 0
and; and then; and yet; but
yíng
皿 108 + 4
fill; full, overflowing; surplus
zhī
丿 4 + 3
marks preceding phrase as modifier of following phrase; it, him her, them; go to
一 1 + 3
no, not; un-; negative prefix
女 38 + 3
if, supposing; as if; like, as
八 12 + 6
his, her, its, their; that
己 49 + 0
already; finished; stop
chuāi
手 64 + 9
put things under clothes
ruì
金 167 + 7
sharp, keen, acute, pointed
口 30 + 2
may, can, -able; possibly
zhǎng
長 168 + 0
long; length; excel in; leader
bǎo
人 9 + 7
protect, safeguard, defend, care
jīn
金 167 + 0
gold; metals in general; money
玉 96 + 0
jade, precious stone, gem
滿
mǎn
水 85 + 11
fill; full, satisfied
táng
土 32 + 8
hall; government office
艸 140 + 7
do not, is not, can not; negative
néng
肉 130 + 6
to be able; can, permitted to; ability
shǒu
宀 40 + 3
defend, protect, guard, conserve
宀 40 + 9
abundant, ample; rich, wealthy
guì
貝 154 + 5
expensive, costly, valuable
jiāo
馬 187 + 12
spirited horse; haughty
自 132 + 0
self, private, personal; from
辵 162 + 12
lose; articles lost; omit
jiù
口 30 + 5
fault, defect; error, mistake
gōng
力 19 + 3
achievement, merit, good result
suì
辵 162 + 9
comply with, follow along; thereupon
shēn
身 158 + 0
body; trunk, hull; rad. no. 158
退
tuì
辵 162 + 6
step back, retreat, withdraw
tiān
大 37 + 1
sky, heaven; god, celestial
dào
辵 162 + 9
path, road, street; method, way
nǎi
丿 4 + 1
then; really, indeed; as it turned out, after all; namely
dài
歹 78 + 5
dangerous, perilous; endanger
乙 5 + 2
also; classical final particle of strong affirmation or identity
míng
口 30 + 3
name, rank, title, position
方 70 + 4
in, at, on; interjection alas!
xià
一 1 + 2
under, underneath, below; down; inferior; bring down
ruò
艸 140 + 5
if, supposing, assuming; similar
jìn
辵 162 + 8
advance, make progress, enter
yùn
辵 162 + 9
luck, fortune; ship, transport
大 37 + 3
ancient barbarian tribes