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2007-04-14 Zou Ma Guan Hua
    2007-04-14 10:07:39     CRIENGLISH.com
A: Welcome back to Listeners' Garden. It's time now for our Chinese idiom.

B: Today we will have a look at the story behind 走马观花,meaning "to look at the flowers while galloping on horseback," or give a hurried glance at things.

A: uh-hum. Here is Shanshan to tell us the story.

走马观花:to look at the flowers while galloping on horseback, or give a hurried glance at things.

Noted Tang Dynasty poet Meng Jiao was outspoken and upright and hated to associate with corrupt officials. This attitude did not help his official career at all. He had taken the highest imperial examination twice, but failed both times. In the year 796, when he was nearly 50 years old, he passed the imperial examination at last! He was so happy, he wrote a poem called "After Passing the Imperial examination." A rough translation goes like this:

"My lousy old days were nothing to boast of, But royal bounties are now bestowed upon me like a golden shower. Galloping on horseback and stroked by the spring breeze. I have seen, in one day, all the capital's flowers."

Later, men of letters condensed the last two lines of the poem into the idiom 走马观花. The implication of the idiom is one gains only a superficial understanding through limited observation.

Another story about the phrase tells the story of a young lad named Gui Liang. Gui Liang was a cripple. He wanted to marry a beautiful girl, so he asked his resourceful friend, Hua Han, to be his matchmaker.

A young girl also approached Hua Han and asked him to serve as her go-between. The girl's name was Ye Qing. She had an ugly nose, but she wanted to marry a handsome young man.

The matchmaker decided these two would make a fitting couple and resolved to arrange a match. He told Gui Liang, the crippled young lad, to ride on horseback past Ye Qing's home. He asked Ye Qing, the ugly-nosed girl, to stand by the road and hold a bouquet of flowers to cover her nose.

After the meeting, the two young people were satisfied with what they saw. Gui Liang was intrigued with the girl and her elegant gesture of modesty. He murmured, "How beautiful she is! This is the very woman I want to marry."

Ye Qing was ecstatic to see the young man riding so high in the saddle, carrying himself as if he were a general. She said to herself, "This is the very man I want to marry!"

This unusual story has a happy ending. The satisfied young man and woman were soon married and lived together happily.
This is another version of the idiom "走马观花."

A: Thank you, Shanshan, for the two stories behind this Chinese idiom, both of which I think are very interesting.

B: Yes. From the second story I think we can learn that sometimes it might not be too bad to simply look on the bright side of all things.

A: Maybe. But still, if you have enough time and energy, you should take a good hard look at everything you undertake. That way, you'll gain a deep understanding of all your tasks and not just focus on the surface, especially in work and study.


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