|1.||When the Way prevails below the sky|
|2.||Disbanded chargers dung the land;|
|3.||But when the Way the world deserts|
|4.||War horses breed outside the towns.|
|5.||No crime exceeds desire sanctioned, 1|
|6.||No woe is worse than discontent,|
|7.||No omen more dire than desire gained.|
|8.||Truly with few wants content,|
|9.||Contentment lasts as long as life.|
COMMENT The first four lines of this stanza are not found in the Guodian text. The complete stanza form is in the Mawangdui text, with the first four lines set off in the A text. Apparently, the Mawangdui editor wanted to link the antiwar theme with the theme of controlling desire. Thus the desires of the ruler—ambitious expansion and acquisition—become the focus of the stanza. But in fact desire is a broad category of which military ambition is only a subsection.
The most common interpretation of line 4 is that meeting increasing demand for horses requires bringing female horses into field camp and battleground—once good farmland—to breed. Jiao (suburb, countryside) is contrasted to the administrative center in the Book of Odes. The Heshang gong commentary says that the female horses give birth in the war camps because the war has kept them from returning home for so long.