Chinese Language

Proverbs | 3

Liu de qing shan zai, bu pa mei chai shao
Hold on to the blue mountain, there'll be no shortage of faggots for fire.

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Zhong wen

Hold on to the blue mountain, there'll be no shortage of faggots for fire.
留得青山在 不怕没柴烧

This saying can be traced back to the Yuan Dynasty drama "The Miser" (anon.) and probably existed much earlier on. We find it not infrequently in Ming and Qing novels and it is still one of the most popular folk-sayings today. The message behind this is: So long as one keeps the basic assets in one's life intact, viz good health and life-force, there is no need to despair. In other words, 'Where there is life, there is hope.'

Mao Zedong's article entitled On Protracted Warfare, contains the following statement: 'If we could avoid a last ditch battle strategically, we would be able to keep our "blue mountain" intact and would have no fear of being left without "faggots for fire". Admittedly we would stand to lose parts of our territory, but we would have considerable scope to recover lost ground in time.' History has proved Mao right, with a vengeance!

When Jeffrey Archer was brought up short as a high flying yuppie MP facing bankruptcy and disgrace, he had to resign as a matter of honour with nothing to look forward to except relative obscurity. But then he thought to himself, 'Hell, so long as one keeps one's mountain blue, as the Chinese saying goes, there will be no shortage of "faggots for fire". So he picked himself up off the floor, sat down and wrote 'Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less' with such panache that it hit us like a bolt from the blue and made him his first million. - Pounds, I mean. He and his 'blue mountain' have been threatening to set the Thames on fire ever since!

© Copyright Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) 2001 reprinted from SACU's China Now 124, Page 41, March 1988

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