塞翁失馬

Prosody appreciation through a short classical Chinese piece of writing.  This is the story behind the idiom, 塞翁失馬, 焉知非(禍)福.

小時候,父親教過我幾篇文言文的文章,讓我有最基本的認識。雖自己小五後就全家移民,現為人父,也用ㄧ短篇成語的文言文典故來教女兒們朗讀的技巧。

原文

近塞上之人,有善術者,馬無故亡而入胡,人皆吊之。其父曰:『此何遽不福乎?』居月,其馬將駿馬而歸,人皆賀之。其父曰:『此何遽不禍乎?』家富良 馬,其子好騎,墮而折其髀,人皆吊之。其父曰:『此何遽不福乎?』

居一年,胡人大入塞,丁壯者引弦而戰,近塞之人,死者十九,此獨以跛之故,父相保。 故福之禍,禍之福,化可極,深可測也。」

English explanation from Wikitionary

“It can be difficult to foresee the twists and turns which compel misfortune to beget fortune, and vice versa. There once was a old man, skilled in divination, who lived close to the frontier (with his son). One of his horses accidentally strayed into the lands of the Xiongnu, so everyone consoled him. (But) the old man said, “Why should I hastily (conclude) that this is not fortunate?” After several months, the horse came back from the land of the Xiongnu, accompanied by another stallion, so everyone congratulated him. (But) the father said, “Why should I hastily (conclude) that this can not be unfortunate?”. One day (the son) fell off the stallion, and broke his leg, so everyone consoled (the father). (But) the father said, “Why should I hastily (conclude) that this is not fortunate?”

One year later, the Xiongnu invaded the frontier, and all able-bodied men took up arms and went to war. Of the men from the frontier (who volunteered), nine out of ten men perished (from the fighting). It was only because of (the son’s) broken leg, that the father and son were spared (this tragedy). Therefore misfortune begets fortune, and fortune begets misfortune. This goes on without end, and its depths can not be measured. (Wiktionary translation)”

 

Definition:

(1)塞上:長城一帶。塞,邊塞。

(2)善術者:精通術的人。善:擅長。術,術,推測人事吉凶禍福的法術,如看,占卜等。

(3)故:緣故。亡:逃跑。

(4)吊:對其不幸表示安慰。

(5)何遽:怎麼就,表示反問。

(6)居:過了。在表示時間的詞語前面,指經過的時間。

(7)將:帶領。

(8)為:是。

(9)富:很多。

(10)好:喜歡。

(11)墮:掉下來。

(11)髀:大腿。

(12)大:大舉。

(13)引弦:拿起弓箭去打仗。引弦,拉開弓弦。。

(14)近塞:靠近長城邊境。

(15)十九:十分之九;指絕大部分。

(16)跛:名詞,指腿腳不好,走路失去平衡,一拐一拐的;瘸腿。

(17)保:保全。

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