Poem by Song Ruozhao
Harmoniously Presenting the Emperor's Meritorious Virtue at a Banquet of One Hundred Peers, by Imperial Order
In fulsome robes, facing the ends of the earth.
Solemn and respectful, passing through the four gates.
Naturally letting each thing take its own course.
Never meddling in the service of his ministers.
Elevating culture to attract hidden talent.
Promoting martial spirit to exterminate barbarians.
His bright virtue is beautiful and radiant.
His tears of kindness fall upon us all like rain.
As the ideal of a gentleman, he joins us at this banquet.
The rites and music prosper his ancestors.
We raise our cups, toasting his longevity and
Trusting, that for one thousand years we'll be together.
This is a work poem of Song Ruozhao, who is one of the five daughters of the Confucian scholar, Song Tingfen. She and her sister Ruoxin wrote the Nü Lunyü, which developed the four womanly virtues (virtue, speech, comportment, work) presented in Ban Zhao's Nü Jie in the Han dynasty. The sisters' book contains twelve chapters of advice for women on how to serve parents, parents-in-law, and husbands, and also how to devote themselves to their chores whole-heartedly. Sounds like a great book.... She and her sister Ruohua were at the imperial court as tutors to the throne in classics and history during Emperor Dezong's reign (779-805).
The poem is the kind of work one does as a poet in the palace. Some minor official or eunuch comes to her and says, "The emperor is throwing himself a congratulatory banquet. See that your poem praises him sufficiently." I'm happier with the title of this poem more than I was with the other two banquet work poems. It could still be wrong, though. One thing I wonder about is whether these poets both wrote and then later declaimed these poems at the banquets. Or whether they supplied them and someone else read them.