说马

<說馬> 韩愈
世有伯樂,然後有千里馬。千里馬常有,而伯樂不常有。故雖有名馬,祇辱於奴隸人之手,駢死於槽櫪之間,不以千里稱也。
馬之千里者,一食或盡粟一石。食馬者,不知其能千里而食也。是馬也,雖有千里之能,食不飽,力不足,才美不外見,且欲與常馬等不可得,
安求其能千里也。
策之不以其道,食之不能盡其材,鳴之而不能通其意,執策而臨之,曰:「天下無馬。」嗚呼!其真無馬耶?其真不知馬也!

this short ‘essay’, written during the tang dynasty by a well-known scholar was based on a chinese fable. according to the fable, there’s this guy (let’s call him bob for simplicity) who’s an excellent horse breeder. he was especially esteemed for being able to consistently breed top-notch horses that could gallop at top speeds for long distances without tiring. hence the name: thousand-league horse.

said  scholar was trying to draw an analogy between bob and his thousand-league-horses-talents. thus he explained:

firstly, you will need bob. then you will get your “thousand-league horses”. to be sure, there’s probably many “thousand-league horses”available, but it is hard to find a sterling horse breeder like bob who knows how to spot the potential in the horses and turn them into winners. in the hands of mediocre breeders, even horses from excellent stock will be ruined and their potential never fulfilled.

for example, the breeder needs to know how much feed to give to the horses. if he underfeed them, the horses will be hungry and sallow. even a “thousand league” horse will be weak; its mane will not have a healthy sheen and it will be no different from an ordinary horse. how then can one expect it to gallop a thousand leagues?!?!

so, by not giving them the proper training, feeding them well, and not being able to communicate with the horses at all, the mediocre breeder exclaims: there’s no such thing as a thousand-league horse! is there really none? only it is because he cannot recognise them!

in very few words, the author had summarised the dilemma of his generation: there’s no lack of talents, only a lack of sponsors who are able to effectively spot and nurture talents. a dilemma we still face today.

 

 

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