Han Yu: On Horses ~ 《马说》 韩愈 with English Translations

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《马说》 韩愈




On Horses
Han Yu

Only after Bole came into the world were there horses able to gallop one thousand li. Such horses are common, but a Bole is rare. So even fine steeds, if mishandled by slaves, will perish in their stables without being known as good horses.

A thousand-li horses may eat one bushel of grain at a meal, but if its groom does not know that this is what enables it to gallop a thousand li and fails to feed it enough, so that it lacks strength, it will not display its ability and natural gifts. Indeed, it may be no match for common horses; so how then can it gallop a thousand li?

If it is whipped and goaded on in the wrong way, too underfed to reveal its full worth, or if it neighs and the trainer treats it without understanding, then the rider may hold his whip over it exclaiming: “There are no good horses in the word!” But does this mean there are truly no good horses, or that he does not understand horses?

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