Chinese Idiom Story – Zao Bi Tou Guang

Chinese Idiom Story - Zao Bi Tou Guang

Literally meaning "bore a hole on the wall to steal light", the idiom 鑿壁偷光 tells a story about a kid who dug a hole on the wall to make use of the neighbor’s light to study. This idiom story is used to describe someone who studies or works very hard.

This article will have basic vocabularies about “education" and "poverty". The unique word in this article is 卷, which is used as a measure word for 書 here. Why the 書 here is using 卷 not 本? The books on Ancient China are not book-shaped, but rather in scrolls. Therefore, the measure word 卷 is more suitable in this context.


西汉时候有一个孩子叫匡衡。他小时候很想读书,可是他没有钱上学。他家里贫穷,买不起书,只好借书来读。


那时候,书是非常贵重的。有书的人都不会轻易借给别人。但是因为匡衡非常好学,他就在农忙的时节,给有钱的人家打工。但他说他不要他们的钱,他只要他们借书给他看。


匡衡一天到晚去工作,只有在中午休息的时候,才有时间看一点书。因为时间很少,一卷书都需要半个月才能够读完。他很着急,心里想,如果白天没有时间看书,他可以晚上看书。可是匡衡很穷,买不起点灯的油。匡衡应该怎么办?


有一天晚上,匡衡躺在床上背着白天读过的书。突然墙壁上透过来一线亮光。他很好奇,这一线亮光是从哪里来的?他站起来,走到墙壁边一看,啊,原来从壁缝里透过来的是邻居的灯光。匡衡想到了个办法,他拿了一把小刀,把墙缝挖大了一些。


这样,透过来的亮光变成大了。他利用透过来的亮光,读起书来。匡衡就是这样刻苦地学习,后来成了个很有学问的人。



西漢時候有一個孩子叫匡衡。他小時候很想讀書,可是他沒有錢上學。他家裡貧窮,買不起書,只好借書來讀。


那時候,書是非常貴重的。有書的人都不會輕易借給別人。但是因為匡衡非常好學,他就在農忙的時節,給有錢的人家打工。但他說他不要他們的錢,他只要他們借書給他看。


匡衡一天到晚去工作,只有在中午休息的時候,才有時間看一點書。因為時間很少,一卷書都需要半個月才能夠讀完。他很著急,心裡想,如果白天沒有時間看書,他可以晚上看書。可是匡衡很窮,買不起點燈的油。匡衡應該怎麼辦?


有一天晚上,匡衡躺在床上背著白天讀過的書。突然牆壁上透過來一線亮光。他很好奇,這一線亮光是從哪裡來的?他站起來,走到牆壁邊一看,啊,原來從壁縫裡透過來的是鄰居的燈光。匡衡想到了個辦法,他拿了一把小刀,把牆縫挖大了一些。


這樣,透過來的亮光變成大了。他利用透過來的亮光,讀起書來。匡衡就是這樣刻苦地學習,後來成了個很有學問的人。



English translation:

In the Western Han Dynasty, there was a child named Kuang Heng. He wanted to study when he was a child, but he didn't have the money to go to school. His family is poor, therefore cannot afford books, and has to borrow books to read.

At that time, the book was very precious. People who have books will not easily lend their books to others. But because Kuang Heng was very eager to learn, he went to work for rich people in the busy farming season. However, he said that he did not want their money, he only wanted them to lend their books for him to read.

Kuang Heng went to work from day to night, and only had time to read a book when he had an afternoon rest. Because of the small amount of time, it took him half a month to finish reading a book He was very anxious and thought that if he didn't have time to read books during the day, then he could read at night. However, Kuang Heng was very poor and did not have the money to buy the lamp oil. What should Kuang Heng do?

One night, Kuang Heng was lying on the bed memorizing the book he had read during the day. Suddenly there was a ray of light shining through the walls. He was very curious, where did this ray of light come from? He stood up and walked over to the wall to see, ah, the light that shone through his wall was from his neighbor's lamp. Kuang Heng thought of a way. He took a small knife and dug the wall, making the hole bigger.

In this way, the light that was passing through became large. He used the light that came through to read his books. Kuang Heng continued studying hard like this, and later became a well-learned person.


The photo is taken from here.  

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