Note: This post is part of a series where I reproduce random sources that I find interesting, with minimal annotation and commentary. Punctuation and translation (if given) are done by me unless otherwise stated. Corrections and comments are greatly appreciated.
I recently came across the collected writings of Zhang Xuan 張選 (1494-1568; jinshi 1529), native of Wuxi, who served as magistrate of Xiaoshan County 蕭山縣 (Shaoxing Prefecture, Zhejiang) during 1529-31. He is said to have been extremely able and upright, to the extent that a crowd of several tens of thousands gathered to send him off upon the conclusion of his three-year term. In addition to the usual collection of official documents, letters, and poems, Zhang’s collected writings contain an intriguing set of poems that were supposedly sung by people of Xiaoshan in praise of Zhang’s extraordinary governance. Among other accomplishments, Zhang is said to have equalized tax assessments, buried abandoned bodies, made locusts disappear, and turned tigers away.
Transcribed below are four out of the fourteen songs that appear in the appendix of Zhang’s collected writings. I do not assume that they reflect the voices of the ordinary people as claimed by preface writers, but the first poem does contain complaints that are quite specific to the Ming tax situation. Also interesting are some plain expressions that are likely not to be found in poems of more literary types (eg. 子孫了公事 睡到日頭升).
Source: Zhang Xuan 張選, Zhongjian Jingsi Zhang gong yiji 忠諫靜思張公遺集. Printed edition prefaced Kangxi 33 (1694), reproduced in Siku quanshu cunmu congshu. 9.13a-20b.