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Chinese Idioms - 望洋兴叹

Posted by vann0000 February 11, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: idiom, , , , , size, ocean, river

Lamenting One's Littleness before the Vast Ocean (望洋兴叹, wang yang xing tan)

望洋兴叹Lamenting One's Littleness before the Vast Ocean

Tradition has it that many,many years ago,there lived on the Yellow River a river god known as He Bo.  One day , He Bo stood on the riverbank and watched the turbulent waves from the west surging forward to the east.  He said both excitedly and conceitedly: "How big the Yellow River is !No other river on earth can compare with it.And therefore I am the greatest river god."

One man said to him,"You are wrong.  There is a place to the east of the Yellow Rivers called the North Sea.  The North Sea is really big."

He Bo said,"I don't believe it .  Big as the North Sea is, can it be bigger than Yellow River?

The man replied, "Should the water of several Yellow River flow into the North sea, it could not fill the North Sea, let alone one Yellow River. "

He Bo said obstinately, "I don't believe it, for I have never been to the North Sea."

Having no alternative,the man said, "You will not be able to understand what I mean until you have a chance to see the North Sea for yourself."

Winter came,and torrential rain had been falling for days on end.  Rivers big and small emptied themselves into the Yellow River, making the Yellow River even broader.  Standing on one side of the river, people could hardly tell what animals the oxen and horses on the other side of the river were.  Thus He Bo was even more proud, thinking that all the magnificent sights were accumulated here.  Then , remembering the North Sea which had been mentioned to him before, he decided to go there and have a look.

He went downstream, and arrived at the river mouth to the sea.  Suddenly,the god of the North Sea,whose name was Biennia Ruo, appeared before his eyes.

With a smile,Beihai Ruo was welcoming He Bo to the North sea.

He looked ahead,and saw that the North Sea, with its vast expanse of water, was boundless.  With a dull look in his eyes, He Bo stood there for a while.  Finally he said to Beihai Ruo with deep feeling, "As the common saying goes,some people go so far as to think that they are more knowledgeable than anybody else when they have got some knowledge.  Actually I am one of such people.  If I had not seen with that the Yellow River is matchless in the world.  If I remained like that, I would be laughed at for ever by sensible people."

wang4     yang2     xing4     tan4
望     洋     兴     叹










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