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“The Pity of Zhongyong”: The Story about a Child Prodigy Posted by on Dec 17, 2018 in Art

Wang Anshi was a Song Dynasty (960–1279 AC) scholar, who advocated for education. He wrote an article about a child prodigy from his hometown to display the importance of education.

Image via Pixabay

His essay – 《伤仲永》 (Shāng Zhòngyǒng, “The Pity of Zhongyong”) – tells the story of a boy named 方仲永 (Fāng Zhòngyǒng). Born to a family of farmers, at the age of five, Zhongyong never (不曾bù céng) saw stationery. One day he suddenly asks his father for paper, brush and ink. They don’t have these tools at home, so his father has to borrow (借jiè) it from a neighbor (邻居lín jū). Zhongyong writes a poem on the spot and signs his name.

仲永长到五岁时,不曾认识书写工具。

Zhòng yǒng zhǎng dào wǔ suì shí, bùcéng rènshì shūxiě gōngjù.

他的父亲就向邻居那里把那些东西借来给他。

Tā de fùqīn jiù xiàng línjū nàlǐ bǎ nàxiē dōngxī jiè lái gěi tā.

Zhongyong’s well written poem (诗 shī) receives many compliments and his literary talent generates admiration among the entire town. From now on, he was able to complete eloquent poems about any subject. People start to treat his father with respect and even pay money to buy Zhongyong’s poems. His father seizes the opportunity, and instead of sending Zhongyong to school, takes him to visit the town’s people every day.

有的人花钱求取仲永的诗。

Yǒu de rén huā qián qiú qǔ zhòng yǒng de shī.

仲永父亲认为这样有利可图,就每天带领着仲永四处拜访同县的人,不让他学习。

Zhòng yǒng fùqīn rènwéi zhèyàng yǒulì kě tú, jiù měitiān dàilǐngzhe zhòng yǒng sìchù bàifǎng tóng xiàn de rén, bù ràng tā xuéxí.

A couple of years later, Zhongyong was already twelve or thirteen years old when Wang Anshi returns to his hometown. At his uncle’s house he meets Zhongyong and asks him to write a poem. His poetry, though, doesn’t live up to his reputation (名声míng shēng). Seven years later, Wang Anshi visits his uncle again and asks about Zhongyong. His uncle tells him that Zhongyong lost his talent, he has no special skill now.

写出来的诗已经不能与从前的名声相称。

Xiě chūlái de shī yǐjīng bùnéng yǔ cóngqián de míngshēng xiāngchèn.

他的才能消失了,和普通人没有什么区别了。

Tā de cáinéng xiāoshīle, hé pǔtōng rén méiyǒu shé me qūbiéle.

Wang Anshi explains that even a gifted ability can wither without proper education. Natural talent should be appreciated, and nurtured as well. Even a child prodigy should be educated.  Don’t neglect your natural aptitude and 好好学习! (hǎo hào xuéxí, “study well”).

Watch the animated version of the story:

Text vocabulary

不曾bù céng = never

借jiè = to borrow

邻居lín jū = neighbor

诗 shī = poem

有利可图yǒu lì kě tú = profitable

学习xué xí = to study

名声míng shēng = reputation

消失xiāo shī = to vanish

区别qū bié = difference

 
好好学习,天天向上!



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