Chinese Idiom Story – Sai Weng Shi Ma

Chinese Idiom Story Sai Weng Shi Ma

Today we are reading an Idiom story called 塞翁失馬, which can mean "a blessing of disguise" or "bad luck disguised as good luck". This idiom is commonly used to point out the hidden positives or negatives in a situation, so you might say it means “there are two sides to every circumstance”.


以前,有一位老人,名叫塞翁。他养了许多马。有一天,塞翁的马从馬廄里跑走了。邻居们听到了这件事,都来安慰他不必太着急,年龄大了,要多注意身体。


塞翁见有人劝慰,笑笑说:「我的马虽然跑走了,但这说不定是件好事呢?」邻居听了塞翁的话,心里觉得好笑。马跑走了,明明是件坏事,还说这也许是好事,是不是在自我安慰而已?


过了没几天,这匹马自己跑回来了,还带回一匹骏马。邻居听到马自己回来了,非常佩服塞翁的预见。塞翁听了邻人的祝贺,皱起眉头对大家说:「白白得了这匹骏马恐怕不是好事啊!」


塞翁有个独生子;他非常喜欢骑马。他发现带回来的那匹马是匹好马,高兴的不得了。他每天都骑马出游,心中洋洋得意。到了一天,他从马背上跌下来,摔断了腿。邻居听到,纷纷来慰问。塞翁却说:「我的儿子虽然摔断了腿,但是说不定是件好事呢!」邻居每个人都莫名其妙。他们想不出,摔断腿会带来什么好事?


过了不久,胡人大举入侵,所有的青年男子都被应征入伍。因为胡人非常的剽悍,大部分的年轻男子都战死沙场;塞翁的儿子因为摔断了腿不用当兵,反而因此保全了性命。这个时候邻居们才知道,当初塞翁所说的话真是有智慧。



以前,有一位老人,名叫塞翁。他養了許多馬。有一天,塞翁的馬從馬廄裡跑走了。鄰居們聽到了這件事,都來安慰他不必太著急,年齡大了,要多注意身體。


塞翁見有人勸慰,笑笑說:「我的馬雖然跑走了,但這說不定是件好事呢?」鄰居聽了塞翁的話,心裡覺得好笑。馬跑走了,明明是件壞事,還說這也許是好事,是不是在自我安慰而已?


過了沒幾天,這匹馬自己跑回來了,還帶回一匹駿馬。鄰居聽到馬自己回來了,非常佩服塞翁的預見。塞翁聽了鄰人的祝賀,皺起眉頭對大家說:「白白得了這匹駿馬恐怕不是好事啊!」


塞翁有個獨生子;他非常喜歡騎馬。他發現帶回來的那匹馬是匹好馬,高興的不得了。他每天都騎馬出遊,心中洋洋得意。到了一天,他從馬背上跌下來,摔斷了腿。鄰居聽到,紛紛來慰問。塞翁卻說:「我的兒子雖然摔斷了腿,但是說不定是件好事呢!」鄰居每個人都莫名其妙。他們想不出,摔斷腿會帶來什麼好事?


過了不久,胡人大舉入侵,所有的青年男子都被應徵入伍。因為胡人非常的剽悍,大部分的年輕男子都戰死沙場;塞翁的兒子因為摔斷了腿不用當兵,反而因此保全了性命。這個時候鄰居們才知道,當初塞翁所說的話真是有智慧。


English translation:

In the past, there was an old man named Sai Weng. He raised many horses. One day, Sai Weng's horse ran away from the stable. The neighbors heard this and came to comfort him not to be too anxious, as he is old-aged, he should pay more attention to his body.

Seeing someone comforting him, Sai Weng smiled and said, "My horse has run away, but maybe this is a good thing?" The neighbor listened to Sai Weng's words and felt funny. The horse ran away, it is obviously a bad thing, yet he said that this may be a good thing. Is he comforting himself?

After a few days, the horse returned and brought back a fine horse. The neighbors heard the horse coming back and admire Sai Weng's prediction. Sai Weng listened to the congratulations from his neighbors and frowned and said to everyone: "Getting this fine horse for nothing, is probably not a good thing!"

Sai Weng has an only child; he likes horse riding very much. He found that the horse Sai Weng brought back was a good horse and he was very happy. He travels on horseback every day, and his heart is full of pride. One day, he fell from the horse and broke his leg. The neighbors heard and expressed condolences. Sai Weng said: "My son broke his leg, but maybe it is a good thing!" Everyone in the neighborhood is baffled. They cannot think of an answer, what's good about breaking their legs?

Soon after, the barbarians invaded and all the young men were enlisted to the army. Because the barbarians are very swift and fierce, most of the young men were killed in battle; Saiweng's son, who didn't need to be a soldier due to his broken leg, had his life saved instead. At this time, the neighbors knew that the words Sai Weng had said at the beginning were really wise.


Special notes:

  • 洋洋得意 - yángyáng déyì - immensely pleased with oneself
  • 莫名其妙 - mòmíngqímiào - unable to make head or tail of it; feels weird and confusing
  • 摔斷 - shuāi duàn - to break (bones) by falling
  • 胡人 - húrén - barbarian 
  • 戰死沙場 - zhànsǐshāchǎng

The photo is taken from here.   

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