Xì Zhèng appellation Lìngxiān was a Hénán Yǎnshī man. His grandfather Jiǎn at Emperor Líng’s end was Yì Province Inspector, and was by bandits killed. It happened that Heaven’s Under was in great chaos, and therefore Zhèng’s father Yī remained in Shǔ. Yī became General Mèng Dá’s camp regional commander, accompanied [Mèng] Dá in surrendering to Wèi, becoming Internal Documents Director Scribe. Zhèng was originally named Zuǎn. When young as his father died and his mother remarried, he was alone and independent, and he was poor and enjoyed study, extensively reading ancient books and records. When capped he was able to write prose, and entered as Confidential Documents Official, transferred to Director Scribe, promoted to Cadet, reached Director. By nature he was placid toward glory and profit, but exceptionally indulged thoughts in written works, from the remaining written works and rhapsodies of the class of Sīmǎ, Wáng, Yáng, Bān, Fù, Zhāng, Cài, to the present age’s beautiful documents and excellent discussions, those that Yì region had, then he drilled through and sought for, and overall he looked over them all. As he was in an inner office, he was near to the dealings of the eunuch Huáng Hào through thirty years. [Huáng] Hào from obscurity reached nobility, wielded authority and power, Zhèng both was not by [Huáng] Hào favored and also was not by [Huáng] Hào hated, and therefore his office did not pass six hundred dàn, and yet he escaped misfortune.
In imitation of former classicists, he borrowed words to show his thoughts, naming it Shìjī “Resolving Ridicule,” its words continuing Cuī Yīn’s Dázhǐ “Communicating Purpose,” its text stating: [Translator’s Note: Warning, mistakes incoming! This is a very hard passage.]
Sometimes there are those who ridicule me saying: ‘Hearing of previous records, the matters and the times are together, the names and the achievements are in combination, that being the case naming things and matters are the former sage’s urgent task. Therefore beginning regulations and creating models, if it is not the time it is not established, transmitting praise and passing down name, if it is not achievement it is not recorded, names must have achievement and then be prominent, matters also must wait for timing to be put into effect, body lost and name exterminated, is what the gentleman is ashamed of. Therefore the expert in studying the way, explores the mysterious and searches the minute, observes the signs of heaven’s fortunes, examines the rise and fall of human affairs, debaters hurry to speak, the wise answer opportunities, planners develop strategies, warriors exert power, clouds join and fog collects, wind rises and lightning flies, estimating times and considering suitability, employing and taking the world’s resources, the small bend and the large extend, preserving the pubic and neglecting the private, though rulers are crooked yet they seek the straight, in the end raising light to shine out. Now the three regions stand as a tripod, nine [tenths] is not yet governed, the expansive four seas, infant and adult in disaster and destruction, alas the flow of righteousness is blocked, a pity the people are in destitution, this truly is the season for the sages to give rescue, the opportunity for ardent servicemen to cultivate achievement. You my good sir have high and bright talent, qualities of jade tablet, have extensively read and studied, given heart to principle and technique, no distant not reached, no obscurity not known; straighten body to seek command, work the mysterious, falter at the violent doors, throat and tongue are restrained, nine examinations without diverging, entering and not going out, (1) investigating the true and false of the ancient to present, calculating the gains and losses of the times and affairs. Though sometimes proffering one strategy, sometimes advancing one word, it explains other office duties, comforts these common dinners, assuredly it cannot give exhaustive loyal sincerity, completely drain chest and liver, in the rows entering straight, kindness to those multitudes of individuals, to enable we humble sorts to all have fame. Why not also loosen weights and slacken reins, return course to easy streets, carriage secure and harness released, think of horse so it serves, investigate severity and rising to cross river, seek large road’s dazzling regret, scattering autumn orchid to fragrant the world, complement our sort in unrolling map, is it not also magnificent?”
I heard and sighed saying: “Alas, that there was speech like this! People’s hearts are not the same, just like their faces, though you are radiant and beautiful, both pretty and voluptuous, pipe peeking and basket raising, holding to what is seen, it cannot be said to be the form of the eight cords, trusted as the thoroughness of all things.”
Someone recklessly pressed and raised expression saying: “What talk is this! What talk is this!”
I answered him saying: Yúdì believed acting obedient was to be admonished, Kǒng the sage believed pleasing oneself was a fault, things like what you say are very much what I ponder, and I will with you my good sir discuss and resolve it. In the past at Hónghuāng, the darkness of the first beginning, the Three Augusts answered prophecy, the Five Emperors carried on the signs, thus reaching to Xià and Shāng, the former canon and distant documents. The Jī [of Zhōu] declined and the way was deficient, the hegemons as wings supported, the Yíng clan [of Qín] was wretched and oppressive, swallowing and chewing eight regions, and therefore criss crossing the clouds rose, the treacherous and deceptive were like stars [in number], the exceptionally evil like wasps moving, intelligence problems sprouting; some ornamented the real to avenge the false, some grasped the evil to wield glory, some with crafty ways coerced superiors, some sold skills to boast of oneself; turning back on the correct to esteem the wrong, abandon the straight to join flattery, loyalty without settled share, righteousness without continuous application. Therefore when [Shāng] Yāng’s laws were exhausted and evil thoughts were created, when [Lǐ] Sī’s principles were defeated then treachery was achieved, the Lǚ family was great and yet the clan was exterminated, Hán [Fēi]’s debate was established and yet his body was punished. What was the reason? Profit took their hearts, favor dazzled their eyes, shining dragon seals, radiant chariots and carriages, improper intimacy temporarily gained, like a turn and like a tilt, depravity bewildering, reckless self-indulgence extreme, the carts were not inspected and yet their bodies were beside the cart shaft, the building’s stability was not yet fulfilled and yet the pillars broke and the rafters collapsed. Heaven collected its vitality, Earth withdrew its luster, Men lamented their bodies, ghosts reaped their foreheads. In the beginning ascending high ridge, in the end falling into remote ravines, in the morning holding glory and sleekness, in the evening becoming dried up bodies. Therefore worthy men and gentlemen, deeply plot distant considerations, fearing faults and ruthlessness, crossing high actions, quietly dragging tail in the streets, dirtying the troubled world’s rest and acclaim. How was that disparaging ruler and impeding people, and neglecting the time’s affairs? Overall the Yì wrote admonishments of actions, the Shī had sighs of tranquil respect, and so invigorating it and listening to it and so the way enacted it thus.
Raising the concentrated liquor of abundant transformation, ruler and minister observing rules, each holding to their reality; below [probably should be ‘above’?] passing down the greatness of inquiring and accepting, below there is the duty of rectifying and rescuing, servicemen without the favor of empty floweriness, the civilians having the legacy of unified conduct, beautiful in relentless diligence, esteeming this loyal benefit. However ways have rises and cracks, things have flourishing and deposing, there is sound and there is silence, there is light and there is shade. Red light is not in white autumn, dark shade is restrained in the first of spring, the sun passes and the moon continues, fortune hides and dazzling spirit is revealed. [Emperors] Chōng and Zhì were not long lived, [Emperors] Huán and Líng fell in destruction, outstanding heroes as clouds spreads, towering figures crowned the world, houses grasped different suggestions, people harbored ulterior plans, and therefore those criss crossing suddenly unrolled their bosom, the treacherous and deceptive temporarily spit their tongues.
Now Heaven’s weaving is already sewn, virtuous cultivation in western regions, the glorious founder’s vast plans, joining good noble ranks to servicemen, raising five teachings to instruct customs, abundant nine virtues to relieve the civilians, cleaning and enlightening libations to the sacrifices, almost using the Imperial Way to assist the true. Although the stopped are not yet unified, the false are not yet divided out, sagely men pass down admonishments, overall all are without greed; therefore the ruler and ministers harmonize beauty in Court, the masses are happy to support in the fields, moving as with heavy determination, calm as folded patterns. The multitudes great and elegant, are the order of Yuán Kǎi. If there is mistake it is certain to be known, that is Yán-zǐ’s benevolence. Assurance in government, is the governance of Rǎn and Jì, eagles raising and falcons soaring, is the matter of Yī and Wàng. Gathering the top strategies of the crowd of the eminent, containing Xuē shì’s three plans, applying Zhāng and Chén’s secret schemes, and therefore with strength campaigning with diligence to the world, assisting the flowering and outstanding without negligence, how is there leisure for dried up bamboo in decaying tree dirt?
However I am not talented, have been in Court for accumulated decades, entrusting self to Heaven, my heart on this relying. Joyful in the azure sea’s width and depth, sighing at Sōng peak’s height and area, hearing Zhòngní’s praising Shāng, moved by village schools benefiting self, that Píngzhòng was a matching accompaniment, also was advancing the possible and replacing the wrong; therefore the undiscerning words of the blind, at times are distantly offered, like a strong man having selections in the market gates, a playing child singing at the borders, the masses by this expanding and widening good fortune, devoting strength to exhorting. If this is united, then use the muddled to harmonize the enlightened, advance to answer the spiritual signs; if this is violated, it is due to me, withdraw and hold my own foolishness. Advancing or withdrawing and appointed repeatedly, not argumentative and not slandering, following nature and pleased by heaven, what is to regret? This his how to enter and not exit, to have and yet seem without. Narrow was Qū shì’s constant awareness, turbid was Yúfù’s certain intoxication, disordered was Liǔ Jì’s lowly disgrace, urgent was Yí Shū’s high criticism. Uniting not to obtain, violating not to lose, obtaining not to yield, losing not to be wretched; not enjoying the former to look back at the front axle, not meeting the later to worry of the back axle, not selling acclaim to wield beneficence, not resigning fault to fear deficiency. What reproach is to explain? What dinner is to sympathize? What position is to line? What uprightness is to enter? Nine examinations not changing, assuredly the place to hold to.
Right now the Court servicemen like mountains pile, the elegant and eminent form crowds, like scale armor hidden in vast seas, fur and feathers gathering in dense forest: roaming beasts leaving is not them becoming few, floating fish arriving is not them becoming many. Moreover Yánglíng was secluded in Táng’s age, Yīnjīng answered to Shāng’s time, Yángxū had request and the vast flood ceased, Sānglín had prayer and sweet pools arrived. (2) Going and stopping have their ways, connecting and blocking have their phases. My teacher’s legacy teachings, was to not blame and not complain, entrust to fate and respect oneself, how can I refuse? Words are exhausted and roads isolated, [I am] about to return to first integrity, assemble the legacies of books and canons, seek Kǒng shì’s legacy arts, combine small words to preserve the way, constitute former courses and set regulations, correct Shūxì’s excessive play, beautify Shūshì’s distant passing, collect stopped feet to speak of returning, floating white to contain on, happy in closed walls for quiet amusement, escaping blame and regret in this world, looking back to this heart’s discontent, fearing the muddy obstruction at the end of the road. If seeking excitement yet increases indignation, unrestrained in internal thoughts to declare pledge. In the past nine regions examined elites at utmost nobility, Qín Yá poured thought to different forms; (3) Xuē Zhú investigated treasures by flowing reputation, (4) Hù Liáng entrusted string to flowing sound; (5) Qí Lì struck his buttocks to relieve Wén, (6) Chǔ retainers included bandits to protect Jīng, (7) Yōngmén held zither and coerced speech, (8) Hán Āi maintained reins and galloped name, (9) Lú Áo soared through Xuánquè, Ruòshì raised body to Yúnqīng. (10) I truly cannot match skills with these numerous masters, and therefore thus calmly hold to myself and stay at peace.”
- (1) Shàng Shū states: In three years examine achievements, three examinations dismiss or promote the hidden and visible. Nine examinations then is twenty-seven years.
- (2) Huáinán-zǐ states: Yǔ controlled the waters, personally requesting at Yángxū’s river, Tāng suffered drought, personally praying at Sānglín’s clearing. The sage’s sympathy for the people, in this way is obvious.
- Lǚshì Chūnqiū states: In the past Yīn Tāng overcame Xià Jié and Under Heaven was great drought, for three years there was no collection, Tāng thus personally prayed at Sānglín saying: “If my one person has guilt, do not extend it to all places. If all places have guilt, place it on my one person, do not for my one person’s lack of wisdom, cause Above God to injure the people’s great lives.” Tāng therefore sheared his hair, broke his fingers, making himself a sacrifice, using prayer for blessings to the Above God. The people then were extremely pleased. Rain then greatly arrived.
- (3) Huáinánzǐ states: Qín Duke Mù said to Bó Lè: “You are old, of your clan is there one that can be sent to seek horses?” Replied saying: “A good horse can by appearance of muscles and bones be appraised. To appraise a horse Under Heaven, it is like extinguishing like drowning, like failing like losing; a horse like this, does not raise dust or leave a trail. Your servant’s sons all are not talented, and can report good horses but cannot report the horses Under Heaven. For the horse Under Heaven, I your servant collected and gathered firewood together with Jiǔfāng Yīn, his appraisal of horses, is not below your servant, I request you meet him.” Duke Mù met him, and sent him to find a horse, in three moons he returned, and reported saying: “Already obtained a horse, at Shāqiū.” Duke Mù said: “What horse is it?” Replied saying: “Female and yellow.” Sent someone to go fetch it, and it was male and black. Duke Mù was not pleased, summoned Bó Lè and asked him saying: “Ruined, is the one you sent to seek horses! Even the color of hair and male or female he yet cannot understand, what horse can he understand?” Bó Lè sighed a great sigh and said: “What is this! It is what in ten million your servant yet is without count. One like Yīn sees Heaven’s mystery, obtains its vitality and forgets its coarseness, is at its inside and forgets its outside, sees what is to see and does not see what is not to see, observes what is to observe and omits what is not to observe, one like what he appraises, then is a noble horse.” The horse arrived, and indeed it was a horse Under Heaven.
- Huáinánzǐ also states: Bó Lè, Hán Fēng, Qín Yá, Gě Qīng, how they appraised was each different, their understanding of horses were the same; probably Jiǔfāng observed their vitality, Qín Yá examined their form.
- (4) Yuè Jué shū states: In the past King of Yuè Gōujiàn had treasure swords of five, famed through Heaven’s Under. Among the guest retainers was one able to appraises swords named Xuē Zhú, the King summoned him and asked him: “I have treasure swords of five, and request to show them to you.” Then he fetched Háocáo and Chénquē, Xuē Zhú said: “All are wrong.” Again fetched Chúngōu, Zhànlú, [Xuē] Zhú said: “Observing this sword’s edge, it shines like a row of stars, observing its light, it is mixed like water about to overflow a dyke, observing its inscriptions, it is dissipating like ice about to melt, is this what is called Chúngōu?” The King said: “It is.” The King said: “By your valuing it, would marketing it for three villages, a thousand fine horses, and two cities of a thousand households, be possible?” Xuē Zhú said: “Not possible. At the time of creating this sword, Chìjǐn’s mountain was destroyed to produce tin, Ruòxié’s creek was dried to produce copper, Yǔ Shī [rain god] swept and sprayed, Léi Gōng [thunder god] struck drum, Tài Yī [god] downward watched, Heaven’s vitality descended to it, Ōu Yě then answered Heaven’s vitality, used all his skill, the first called Chúngōu, the second called Zhànlú. Now Chìjǐn’s mountain is already gathered, Ruòxié’s creek is deep and immeasurable, Ōu Yě’s son is already dead, even overturning the city for all its gold, pearls and jade exhausting a river, would not be enough for this one thing. Marketing it for three villages, a thousand fine horses, two cities of a thousand households, how is it worth speaking of!”
- (5) Huáinánzǐ states: Hù Bā strummed zither and fish listened to it.
- Also states: Hù Liáng’s song could be sung-along, but the singers could not sing it.
- (6) Your Servant Sōngzhī states: According to this it says Mèngchángjūn Tián Wén’s subordinate retainer was able to make chicken calls to relieve his distress. Generally those making chicken calls certainly first slap their buttocks to imitate a chicken patting wings.
- (7) Huáinánzǐ states: Chǔ officer Zǐfā enjoyed seeking skilled Dào specialists. Chǔ had someone good at stealing, went to meet and said: “One hears you seek skilled Dào specialists, I your servant am a thief, and request to use my skills be a soldier.” Zǐfā heard this, his robes were not yet tied, his cap was not yet straight, and he went out to meet and pay respects to him. The left and right attendants remonstrated saying: “A thief is a bandit Under Heaven, why pay respects to him?” The lord said: “This does not have anything to do with you left and right” Later very soon, Qí raised troops to attack Chǔ. Zǐfā commanded the forces to resist them, the troops three times retreated. The Chǔ worthy grandees all exhausted their plans and all their devotion, the Qí forces were all the more strong. Therefore the soldier thief advanced and requested saying: “I your servant have meager skills, and request my lord to use it.” The lord said: “Accepted.” The thief at once in the night went out, untied the Qí General’s standard, and presented it to Zǐfā. Zǐfā sent a messenger to return it, saying: “Of my soldiers one went out to gather firewood, and obtained your standard General, and I send envoy to return it to you sir.” The next day again went to steal the pillow, Zǐfā again sent to return it. The next day again went to steal hairpin, Zǐfā again sent to return it. The Qí forces heard this and were greatly astonished, the General with his military officials planned saying: “If today we do not leave, I fear the Chǔ army will take my head!” At once turned the forces and left.
- (8) Huán Tán’s Xīnlùn states: Yōngmén Zhōu with a zither met, Mèngchángjūn said: “Is your playing of the zither able to make me sorrowful?” Replied saying: “Your servant’s ability to cause sorrow, is in the first noble and later lowly, in the past wealthy and now poor, rejected from destitute alleys, not interacting with the four neighbors; it is not like bodily figure high and clever, holding character and embracing the true, yet encountering slander and suffering defamation, blamed and not able to be trusted; it is not like interacting happily and joining love, without blame and yet producing alienation, distantly reaching to cut off states, without time to meet one another; it is not like an infant without father and mother, an adult without wife and child, going out taking fields and ponds as neighbors, going in using caves as a house, trapped morning and night, without pardon: one like these people, who yet hears the call of flying birds, autumn breeze rustling branches, then is pained in heart. Once I your servant for them plays zither and long sighs, never once have they not been sorrowful and weeping. Now if it is you sir, residing in a wide mansion and tall hall, of continuous doors and rooms, below curtains, with coming pure breezes; performers at the front, flattering attendants at the side, raising exciting Chǔ [music], dancing Zhèng women, flowing sounds to amuse the ear, refined sensuality to overflow the eyes; on the water playing on large dragon boats, setting feather banners, dropping hooks down into immeasurable depths, in the fields roaming on flat plains, galloping wide park, strong crossbows taking down high birds, valorous warriors blocking ferocious beasts; setting liquor for amusement, pouring intoxication and forgetting to return: at this time, to look at Heaven and Earth as not worth one finger, even if one is good at strumming zither, it is not able to move you sir.” Mèngchángjūn said: “Assuredly so!” Yōngmén Zhōu said: “However your servant humbly believes you sir do have a constant sorrow. The one fighting to be Emperor and is hard-pressed by Qín is you, the one joining five states to attack Chǔ is also you. Under Heaven there has not once been no problems, if not vertical then it is horizontal; if vertical succeeds then Chǔ is King, if horizontal succeeds then Qín is Emperor. To with Qín’s and Chǔ’s strength and yet avenge weak Xuē, is like sharpening dread axe and chopping morning mushrooms. Of servicemen with knowledge, none are not disillusioned with you sir. Heaven’s way does not constantly flourish, cold and hot cycle in advancing and withdrawing, after a thousand autumns and ten thousand years, the ancestral temples will certainly not enjoy sacrifices; high towers already overturn, bent ponds also already flatten, graves will produce thistles and thorns, foxes burrowing inside, roaming bows and herders will trample their feet and sing above it saying: “Mèngchángjūn’s honored nobility also was yet like this!” Therefore Mèngchángjūn sighed a great sigh, tears forming on eyelashes and not yet falling. Yōngmén Zhōu drew zither and strummed it, gently moving gōng and zhǐ [notes], knocking jué and yǔ [notes], in the end completing melody, Mèngchángjūn therefore sobbed and said to him: “Your strumming of zither, causes me to stand like a man of a destroyed state.”
- (9) Lǚshì Chūnqiū states: Hán Āi was a driver.
- Wáng Bāo’s Shèng zhǔ dé Xián chén sòng “Ode to a sagely ruler obtaining a worthy minister” states: Reaching to harness gnawing knee, joining ride at dawn, Wáng Liáng grasping board, Hán Āi attaching carriage, releasing gallop and rushing, sudden like a bright flash, passing cities and crossing states, trampling like trailing chunks, chasing lightning, pursuing wind, all around flowing eight extremities, ten thousand lǐ in one breath, such distances! It is from man and horse understanding one another.
- (10) Huáinánzǐ states: Lú Áo traveled to Běihǎi, crossing Tàiyīn, entering Xuánquè, reaching to above Ménggū, saw one man, deep eyes and dark nose, bent neck and wide shoulders, abundant top and weak bottom, laughing and facing the wind and dancing, looked back and saw Lú Áo, slowly lowered his arms, and fled below the stele. Lú Áo looked down and saw him, just rolling up turtle shell and eating a pear. Lú Áo then with him spoke saying: “I Áo turned back on the crowds and left the groups, exhaustively searched beyond the six directions, is it not Áo? I Áo as a youth enjoyed traveling, ever unable to explain, all around going to the four extremities, only the north Yīn not seen, now to suddenly see you here, you probably can befriend Áo.” The one appearing like a man scoffed and laughed and said: “Ha! You are the central province’s commoner, how can you travel far to here? This yet is the light of the soon and moon and the constellations of stars, where yīn and yáng travel, where the four seasons are produced, this is comparable to those unnamed lands, yet all the more mysterious. If I to the south travel to the network of fields, to the north rest in blackened countryside, to the west exhaust the darkest groups, to the east cross the vast drizzle light, this is to below be without earth and above be without heaven, listening and not hear, looking and in a daze, yet beyond here there is a torrential stream, the remaining one move of ten million lǐ, I yet cannot take. Now you have traveled only to here, and then speak of exhausting sights, how is it not also far? However you are here, I am with the vast time above the nine boundaries, I cannot stay long.” The one like a man raised arm and straightened body, and then entered into the clouds. Lú Áo looked up and watched him, did not see him and then stopped, saying: “Comparing me to him, is like a yellow swan and an earth worm, to the end of days going but not leaving the very near, but believing it to be far, is it not also sorrowful?”
Jǐngyào Sixth Year , Hòuzhǔ followed Qiáo Zhōu’s plan, and sent envoy to request to surrender to Dèng Ài. The letter was by Zhèng written. Next year Standard Moon, Zhōng Huì made chaos in Chéngdū, Hòuzhǔ moved east to Luòyáng, the times were disturbed and confused, Shǔ’s great ministers were without supporting attendants, only Zhèng and Palace Hall Internal Director Rǔnán’s Zhāng Tōng abandoned wives and children and alone followed in attendance. Hòuzhǔ depended on Zhèng’s guidance on suitable behavior, actions and movements were without deficiency, and so he sighed in regret of knowing of Zhèng too late. At the time discussions praised this. Bestowed noble rank as Marquis Within the Passes. During Tàishǐ sent out as Ānyáng Magistrate, promoted Bāxī Administrator. Tàishǐ Eighth Year  Imperial Order said: “Zhèng in the past at Chéngdū, in destitution held to righteousness, not violating loyal integrity, and when meeting with employment, was exhaustive in heart in enacting duties, having government accomplishments, thus appoint Zhèng as Bāxī Administrator.” Xiánníng Fourth Year  died. Altogether his written poems and discussions and rhapsodies were over a hundred piān.