Wild Horses

1796452_10202490321915848_283704833_n

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! As you’ve probably heard or already know, it’s the Year of the Horse (not my year yet), and festivities are underway all across the globe to celebrate the occasion. And while we’re talking about horses, I decided to re-post this little Chinese fable about horses and the (mis)fortunes that come with having them. Enjoy, and 恭喜發財!

 

近塞上之人有善術者,馬無故亡而入胡,人皆弔之。

Among the people of the border region (near the Great Wall), there was one who was skilled at divination. A horse, for reasons unknown, ran off and entered the land of the Hu (胡). The people lamented their loss.

其父曰:[此何遽不為福乎?]居數月,其馬將胡駿馬而歸,人皆賀之,其父曰:[此何遽不能為禍乎?]

The owner of the horse said, “How could this not be good fortune?” A month later, his horse returned, leading a fine horse of the Hu, and the people congratulated him. But the old man asked, “How do we know that this is not a sign of misfortune?”

家富良馬,其子好騎,墜而折其髀,人皆弔之。其父曰:[此何遽不為福乎?]

The man’s household was supplied with good horses. His son enjoyed riding, but one day he fell from his horse and broke his thighbone, and the people lamented his injury. But the old man said, “How could this not be good fortune?”

居一年,胡人大入塞,丁壯者引弦而戰。近塞上之人,死者十九。此獨以跛之故,父子相保。

One year later, the people of Hu invaded the border region in great numbers. The able-bodied men frontier men fought with bow and arrow. But among the people of the border region, nine out of ten died. Yet because his son was crippled by his fall, the old man and the son were able to take care of each other.

故福之為禍,禍之為福,化不可極,深不可測也。

As to good fortune becoming misfortune, and misfortune becoming good fortune: such transformations are boundless, and their depths are unfathomable.

The moral of the story? Take everything in stride, or to put it another way…hold (on to) your horses!

Source: The Huainanzi (淮南子 · 人間訓). Those of you who are well-versed in classical Chinese can find the full text here.

 

Advertisements

About csquaredetc

I'm a graduate student in English at the University of Pennsylvania (or "Penn" for short). My most prolific writing is on The Hong Kong Project, a blog about my former experience as an exchange student: thehkproject.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Books, Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Wild Horses

  1. Pingback: Bookmarks: 1/20/14 – 2/16/14 | Shelf Reflections

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s