Liu Ji:Gong Ziqiao Making a Lute ~ 《工之侨为琴》 刘基 with English Translations

《工之侨为琴》是浙江青田人刘基所著的寓言故事,作于元朝末年。文章用“托物讽喻”的手法,揭露了当时的封建统治者崇古非今的不良风气,寄喻了盲目守旧,势必阻碍改革,摧残人才,扼杀社会生机的道理。


《工之侨为琴》 刘基

工之侨得良桐焉,斫而为琴,弦而鼓之,金声而玉应,自以为天下之美也,献之太常。使国工视之,曰:“弗古!”还之。工之侨以归,谋诸漆工,作断纹焉;又谋诸篆工,作古窾焉;匣而埋诸土,期年出之,抱以适市。贵人过而见之,易之以百金,献诸朝。乐官传视,皆曰:“希世之珍也!”工之侨闻之,叹曰:“悲哉,世也!岂独一琴哉?莫不然矣!而不早图之,其与亡矣。”遂去,入于宕冥之山,不知其所终。

Gong Ziqiao Making a Lute
Liu Ji

Gong Zhiqiao, having come by a piece of excellent paulownia wood, cut it into a lute and furnished it with strings. A pluck at it would produce a harmony of the ring of gold and the tinkle of jade. He thought it to be the best in the world. So he presented to the ritual office. The latter had it examined by the prominent musicians of the country, who, nevertheless, commented: “Not ancient!” And the lute was returned to him.
Gong took the lute back and contrived with a painter to make some cracks on it and then with a calligrapher to carve some hieroglyphs on it. Afterwards he put it in a case, which he buried in the earth. One year later he took out the lute and brought it for sale in the market. A dignitary who saw it bought it for a hundred taels of gold and presented it to the Court. The original official musicians passed it around, looking at it with great admiration, exclaiming, “It is indeed a marvelous rarity on earth!”
Hearing this, Gong said with a sigh, “Alas, this deplorable world! Is that only the unhappy experience of a lute? The same is true of all and sundry. If I do not devise my escape sooner, I shall suffer misfortune in the same way.” So he went into the Dangming Mountains, and no one knew how he ended his life.

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