(gong1 bai4 chui2 cheng2)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
failure within sight of success
《晉書》第七十九章〈謝安列傳〉中，對謝玄如此評論：「廟算有遺，良圖不果，降齡何促，功敗垂成」（朝廷失算了，謝玄的計畫未能有結果，老天賜給謝玄的年歲何其短暫，使他還未取得成功，便英年早逝）。最後一句話「功敗垂成」，即演變為一句成語，意指「成功在望，卻失敗了」；其意同英文的「falling at the last hurdle」（在最後一道障礙失敗），或「snatching defeat from the jaws of victory」（出乎意料地由勝轉敗；煮熟的鴨子飛了）。
(The newly developed rocket was sent to Mars, but contact was lost before it reached the planet, so the Mars landing program failed within sight of success.)
(He has been proactively trying to manoeuver himself into position within the industry, but in the end fell short, and failed to get any orders this time.)
(He had boasted how he would excel in all subjects, but when the results were announced, he had failed one course, so he fell at the last hurdle.)
falling at the last hurdle;
snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
When Fu Jian (337–385) of the Former Qin launched his campaign to unify China, he boasted that his army was so huge, “if my men threw their weapons into the river, it would stem the flow.”
The campaign ultimately failed due to a rout of the Former Qin army at the hands of the — much smaller — elite Northern Garrison army of the Eastern Jin at the Battle of Feishui in 383.
The Battle of Feishui is regarded as one of the most consequential in Chinese history. The river itself no longer exists: some scholars believe that the battle never actually happened, either, but it does carry several persuasive themes: it shows how a well-trained, professional army of soldiers with a vested interest in victory could overcome an army with a far superior numerical advantage. It also represents the victory of a Han Chinese army over a force consisting of “barbarian” warriors — of the Di, Xian Bei, Jie, Rong, Xiong Nu, Qiang and others — many of whom were from defeated armies, conscripted to the Former Qin cause. Ironically, the general leading the Northern Garrison to victory has become associated with a Chinese idiom meaning failure within sight of success.
According to the jin shu (Book of Jin), the official history of the Jin Dynasty (265 to 420), when the Jin army met the Former Qin forces on the banks of the Feishui River, General Xie Xuan (343–388) sent a messenger to Fu Jian and suggested that he have his forces withdraw from the northern bank, to allow the Jin army to cross the river and engage them in battle. Fu Jian agreed. In this, he was following the advice found in the xing jun (Army on the March) chapter of the ancient military treatise sunzi bingfa (Sunzi’s the Art of War): “When an advancing enemy crosses water do not meet him at the water’s edge. It is advantageous to allow half his force to cross and then strike.” Unfortunately for him, he had also disregarded a core principle found in the same treatise: “Know yourself, and know your enemy.” The Jin army was an elite force fighting for its own existence; Fu Jian’s men were conscripted soldiers with disparate loyalties, cobbled together and led by inexperienced commanders. When the order to withdraw was given, the Former Qin forces fell into confusion and disarray, Fu Jian himself fell from his horse and was wounded, a cry went up that the Former Qin had already lost, and panic set in. Xie Xuan’s forces took advantage of the ensuing chaos and went in for the kill.
Despite Xie Xuan’s decisive victory on this occasion, his plans to follow through and seize further territories were foiled when certain Jin court officials, envious of his success, called him back to Jin before he could capitalize on his momentum. On the way home, he contracted an illness from which he would never fully recover: It would prevent him from leading further military campaigns, and ultimately killed him, at the young age of 46.
Chapter 79 of the xie an liezhuan (Biography of Xie An) of the Book of Jin, it says of Xie Xuan: 廟算有遺，良圖不果，降齡何促，功敗垂成 (the court miscalculated, his plans failed to bear fruit, and he died at a young age, before he could achieve success). The final phrase 功敗垂成 comes to us as an idiom, meaning failure within sight of success; falling at the last hurdle; or snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
I was pretty confident we would win the cup, but we fell at the last hurdle. The final slipped through our fingers.
I was so close to persuading him not to resign, but then I said something stupid, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Three adopted Japanese shibas — eight-year-old male Hero, three-year-old female Wish and the latest addition to the family in 2017, a male named Tiger — are the main protagonists of a Facebook page created by their owner, called Hero&Wish, which has over 5,000 followers. Tiger was originally a stray, although it is unclear what caused him to be homeless. Fortunately, he tramped onto a school campus in southern Taiwan. While classes were underway, the forlorn sound of feeble footsteps reverberated in the corridor outside. A teacher went out to investigate and discovered Tiger, with an astonishing trail of bloody paw prints
A: It’s difficult to know what we will need for a two-week quarantine. So far I’ve ordered bread, vegetables, meat — and a large box of Korean-style spicy instant noodles. B: Um, if we have a fever, we will want to eat plain food, like rice porridge or chicken soup. A: That’s true. I’ll add a bag of rice to the order and we can make some chicken soup, divide it into individual portions and freeze it. A: 很難想得到我們隔離兩個星期會需要些什麼。到目前為止，我訂了麵包、蔬菜、肉類──還有一大盒韓式辣泡麵。 B: 呃，如果我們發燒的話，應該會想吃清淡的食物吧，像是稀飯或是雞湯。 A: 這倒是真的。我再加一袋米到訂單裡面好了，然後我們可以做一些雞湯，把它分裝以後拿去冷凍。 English 英文: Chinese 中文:
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