Wild Goose Pass
Introduction 前集

Introduction 前集

The Neglected Events of the Xuanhe Era

(Read the original here.)


Let me put down my drum and qin for a moment
So that we might leisurely consider the past.
And sigh in admiration at the noble deeds of honest rulers
And grieve at the missteps and wanton acts of petty kings.

Peace originates with our families and honest men,
while chaos stems from the words of silver-tongued officials.
Of death and destruction, how much there is to say!
For those who know the true sound of tall peaks and flowing streams
it is for you I sing.


History flows like a vast and boundless river up to the present moment. Over the past three thousand years, myriad phenomena have come and gone, and one hundred thousand events have taken place. Looking back, it seems that times of peace and prosperity have been rare, while times of darkness and despair have been frequent. The times when men have worn scholars’ gowns and made use of progress have been few, while the times when men have dressed as soldiers and fought each other with spears and swords have been many.

To understand why there is order and why there is chaos, one must understand that there are two paths, which are similar to the principles of yin and yang. The Middle Kingdom, the Way of Heaven—both of these belong to those things that are yang. The tribes from the northern steppes, small-minded people, greed and envy—all of these belong to those things that are yin.

When yang’s brightness holds sway, the Middle Kingdom is at peace and noble-minded men sit on the throne and in the magistrate’s office. Auspicious signs of honeyed dew and celebratory clouds can be seen in Heaven, while sweet-tasting springs, numinous mushrooms, and fragrant grasses can be found on Earth. When this is so, people enjoy peaceful rule.

When yin’s darkness holds sway, the northern tribes invade the land and small-minded men get their way. Calamitous signs such as comets and eclipses appear in Heaven, while plagues of locusts, ruined fields, and widespread famine can be found on Earth. During these times of misfortune and suffering, no person is spared.

The way of yin and yang all depends on one thing: the emperor, and whether or not he harbors evil intentions.

Next: The Emperor and the Courtesan