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A bird startled by the mere twang of a bow-string

During the time of the Warring States (475-221 BC), there lived a well-known archer named Geng Ying whose art in shooting was excelled by none at his time.

战国时期,有个杰出的弓箭手,叫做更赢。他的射箭本领在当时可称是举世无双。

One day, as he was standing by the side of the King of Wei, a flock of swan geese were flying over. With confidence, Geng Ying said to the king, "The twang of my bow-string might bring down a bird." The King doubted much. Just then a solitary swan goose appeared, low and slow in its flight, sad and dolorous in its cry. Instantly Geng Ying bended his bow and forcibly pulled the bowstring. Twang! High up went he shrilling sound into the air and down fell the bird to the ground. The king admired with bewilderment. Gang Ying then explained: "The bird was flying low and slow, because it was already hurt; it was crying in a bitter tone, because it had lost its companions. Due to the fact that it was already hurt and sad at heart, the twang of my strong bow, that birds dreaded most, startled it. The shrilling sound made its heart beat fast, its wings weak, its balance uneven. Thus it fell down just as commonly as a man drops his chop-sticks, at the thunder-stroke, at a dinner table."
有一天,他和魏王并肩站着,天空中忽然飞过一群鸿雁。更赢很自信的对魏王说:"我可以用弓声就把飞鸟给打下来。"魏王很怀疑。正在那是,一只孤雁很低很慢的飞过。鸣声凄惨。更赢见了,就张着弓,扣着弦,砰的一声,直入云宵。那孤雁果然应声落地。魏王惊叹之余,不明白这是怎么回事。更赢解释说:"那孤雁飞得低且慢,因为它已经受过伤;它鸣叫的声音悲而哀,因为它离了群。身伤心碎,使它心跳加速,两翼无力,体重失去平衡,正如人们吃饭时,突然听见雷声,筷子落地的情况一样自然而平常。

Henceforth comes the idiom "A bird startled by the mere twang of a bow-string", illustrating a case where a man who had been previously and repeatedly frightened became numb and stupefied by a new thing of the same nature not knowing how to face the new situation.
后人根据上面的故事,做成了 "惊弓之鸟"这个成语,形容先前多次受过惊吓的人,忽然遇到同样可怕的事物,就吓得魂飞魄散,惊惶失措,不知如何去应付新的环境。

2016-06-24

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