Mon, Jan 01, 2018 - Page 9 News List


La Recolte Des Foins (the Hay Harvest) by Julien Dupre.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chinese Practice


(wei4 yu3 chou2 mou2)

before the rains, bind with silk


Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.

Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.




都鐸王朝時期的英格蘭沒有現代的機器,農人得要花好幾天的時間才能夠把草曬乾,做成飼料用乾草,而且要預測天氣很難。農人不希望割下的乾草被打濕,因為水氣會讓乾草裡的養分流失。因此,趁出大太陽的時候製作乾草飼料是很重要的。此即為諺語「make hay while the sun shines」(趁有陽光時曬乾草)的由來。這也就是說,當條件合適的時候,應好好把握時機,不要等到後來情況有所改變。










(The government should prepare now for the aging population problem, and put measures in place as soon as possible, before it’s too late.)


(It makes sense to renovate the place now, otherwise it might get seriously damaged when the typhoons come.)


make hay while the sun shines

In John Heywood’s 1546 collection of English proverbs, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, there appears a rhyme:

“Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.

Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.”

In modern English, this is:

When the sun shines, make hay. Which is to say,

Take time when the time comes, in case the time goes away.

In Tudor England, before the availability of modern machinery, the task of making hay for livestock feed would have taken farmers several days, and it would have been difficult to predict weather days in advance. They would not have wanted the cut hay to get wet, as moisture can leach out many nutrients. It was important, then, to get to work making hay when the sun was shining. This gives us the proverb “make hay while the sun shines.” That is, when the conditions are right, make good use of the time; don’t wait until circumstances have moved on.

It is a concept that is found in — although it is by no means certain that the English proverb is derived from — Proverbs 10:5 of the Bible:

“He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.”

In other words, doing tasks at the proper time is prudent; allowing the perfect conditions for a task to pass is shameful.

Indeed, the idea of making adequate preparation before the rains arrive is found in a book older still than the Bible: The ancient Chinese classic the Book of Poetry or shi jing, which dates to the 11th to 7th centuries BC. In the Odes Of Bin of the Lessons from the States section of the shi jing there is the poem chi xiao, written from the perspective of a bird:



“Before the heavens were dark with rain,

I gathered the bark from the roots of the mulberry trees,

And wove it closely to form the window and door of my nest;

Now, I thought, ye people below,

Perhaps ye will not dare to insult me.”

The poem was also quoted in the Gong Sun Chou I chapter of the Warring States philosophical text the Mencius, and appeared in the form of the modern idiom 未雨綢繆, literally “before it rains, bind around with silk,” in chapter 258 of the History of Ming, printed in 1739 during the Qing Dynasty.

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