Saturday, August 23, 2014

The elderly oil peddler - a Song Dynasty fable

陳康肅公堯咨善射,當世無雙,公亦以此自矜。嘗射於家圃,有賣油翁釋擔而立,睨之,久而不去。見其發矢十中八九,但微頷之。 康肅問日:「汝亦知射乎?吾射不亦精乎?」翁曰:「無他,但手熟爾。」康肅忿然曰:「爾安敢輕吾射!」翁曰:「以我酌油知之。」乃取一葫蘆置於地,以錢覆其口,徐以杓酌油瀝之,自錢孔入,而錢不濕。因曰:「我亦無他,惟手熟爾。」康肅笑而遣之。

賣油翁: 宋歐陽脩 。

My translation of the fable "The elderly oil peddler"  (aka: "Nothing great") - written by famous writer Ouyang Xiu of Song Dynasty:

Honorable Chan was proficient in the art of archery, came second to none, himself proud of this too. Once when he practised at his back yard, an elderly peddler of edible oil rested down his shoulder-pole, stood there and looked askance at him, for a long time. Having seen Chen hit the mark eight or nine times out of ten, yet he only slightly nodded his head. Chan confronted him, "Do you know the art of archery? Did I shoot badly?" "Nothing great, simple practice." Chan was angry, "You dare to look down upon my shooting skill!" The old man said, "I understand it through pouring oil". He then took out a bottle gourd and put it on the ground, the he put a coin to cover its mouth. Slowly he poured oil through the center hole of the coin into it. He did it without wetting the coin. He said, "It's also nothing great for me, simple practice." Chan laughed and bid him farewell.

Paul's comment:.....(and keep on writing).

1 comment:

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