首页 用英语讲中国故事 基础级 第一章 中国风物


The plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum were called by the ancient Chinese the “Four Gentlemen.” The plum blossom was especially appreciated. 


“The plum blossom sprigs in the corner of the wall/ 

Alone bloom in the frosty chill/ 

Seen from afar I know it is not snow/ 

For a hint of the fragrance to come.” 


These verses were written by the Song Dynasty (960-1279) statesman Wang Anshi (王安石), in praise of plum blossoms. But what are the special characteristics of plum blossoms? “Alone bloom in the frosty chill” points out the difference between plum blossoms and other flowers. Other flowers bloom only in spring and summer; only the plum blos¬som has the hardihood to withstand the bone-piercing cold of winter; in fact, the colder it is the more luxuriantly the plum blossom blooms, and the sturdier its spirit. 

这是宋代政治家王安石写的一首诗。这首诗的主角就是梅花。那么梅花有什么特点呢?“凌寒独自开 ”是梅花与其他花最大的不同点。别的花都是春夏开放,只有梅花能够忍耐冬天刺骨的寒冷,而且越是寒冷,花开得越饱满,越精神!

Legend has it that every flower and every month have an official patron. The official guardian of the plum blossom in January is Wang Zhaojun (王昭君). As one of the Four Great Beauties of ancient China, her appearance was said to be strikingly like that of the plum blossom. But apart from this, what other similarities were there between Wang Zhaojun and the plum blossom? 


During the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-25 AD) there was constant warfare between the Han and the northern tribe of the Xiongnu. When finally both sides wanted peace be¬tween them, the Xiongnu leader Khan Huhanye visited the Han capital Chang’an three times to pay his respects to Emperor Yuan of the Han Dynasty and ask for a marriage al¬liance. This was a political arrangement whereby two countries could become related by marriage. Emperor Yuan valued highly such a connection with the Xiongnu, and decided to select a palace maid to go and marry the Xiongnu leader. 

西汉年间,汉朝和北方民族匈奴之间征战不断,双方都希望能和平相处。匈奴首领呼韩邪单于三次到长安拜见汉朝皇帝,并向汉元帝请求和亲。“和亲 ”就是两国通过婚嫁实现交好。汉元帝十分重视与匈奴的关系,决定从后宫中选出一位女子远嫁匈奴。

However, the distant land of the Xiongnu was a bleak place, and all of the palace maids were reluctant to go there except Wang Zhaojun, who bravely volunteered to marry the Xiongnu chief for the sake of ending her people’s suffering. She said, “Finally, the leader of the Xiongnu desires peace with us. Whoever of us is willing to marry him will be a peace envoy. This is the great significance of such a step. I used to think of myself as be¬ing no more than a weak woman, who would never have the opportunity of serving my country like a man would. Now I have such a splendid opportunity!” 


Emperor Yuan, hearing of her words, thought to himself: “The courage of this woman is really deserving of respect.” He hurriedly summoned Wang Zhaojun to his throne room. 


Wang Zhaojun was extremely beautiful, had a lofty character, and was dignified and graceful. She captivated the whole court, from the emperor to his ministers. Moved by both her beauty and her nobility of character, Emperor Yuan gave Wang Zhaojun rich rewards, and allowed her to go and marry the leader of the Xiongnu. 


After she had done so, Wang Zhaojun not only devoted herself to maintaining peace between the Han and the Xiongnu, she also actively introduced the civilization of the Central Plain to the latter. There followed over half a century during which there were no more clashes between the two countries. Wang Zhaojun dedicated all her efforts to peace between the Han and the Xiongnu. 


Such is the story of Wang Zhaojun. Do you feel that there was a difference between her and the other palace ladies? In order to benefit her country, Wang Zhaojun braved the harsh life of a far-off land, conquering her own fears about leaving home and making a choice the other palace ladies had refused. This was the embodiment of the plum blossom spirit – a “noble character fearless of hardship.” The legend goes that after her death, Wang Zhaojun returned to the Han court in the form of a plum blossom. 

昭君的故事讲完了。你是否觉得昭君和其他宫女很不同呢?她能从家国利益出发,不怕塞外艰苦的生活环境,也克服了自己对远离家乡的恐惧,做出了和其他宫女不一样的选择。这正是梅花精神 “不惧艰难,质本高洁 ”的体现!传说她死后灵魂回到了汉朝化成了梅花。

Chinese history contains many accounts of staunch figures as unyielding as plum blossoms. They were the backbones of our people. That is probably the reason why the Chinese people cherish plum blossoms so much. 





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  • 第一章 中国风物
    • 梅:魂归故里化作梅
      The Plum Blossom: Returning Home as a Plum Blossom
    • 兰:屈原与九畹溪的兰花
      The Orchid: Qu Yuan and the Orchids of Jiuwan Stream
    • 竹:湘妃竹的传说
      The Bamboo: The Legend of Mottled Bamboo
    • 菊:品性高洁的秋菊
      The Chrysanthemum: Aspiration for Uprightness
    • 泰山:孔子登泰山
      Mount Tai: Confucius Climbs Mount Tai
    • 黄河:有关黄河的一则日记
      The Yellow River: A Yellow River Diary Entry
    • 长城:冰道上的石条
      The Great Wall: Blocks of Stone on the Ice Road
    • 故宫:建在中轴线上的皇宫
      The Forbidden City: Imperial Palace with a Central Axis
    • 石拱桥:千年不倒赵州桥
      The Arched Bridge: Zhaozhou Bridge Towering for over 1,000 Years
  • 第二章 中国习俗
    • 过年:合家团圆过大年
      Celebrating the Lunar New Year: Family Gathering
    • 元宵节:天帝女儿的善意
      The Lantern Festival: The Goodwill of the Daughter of the Lord of Heaven
    • 祭祖:祖先,家永远的牵挂
      Memorializing the Ancestors: Eternal Concern of the Family
    • 端午:端午源说
      The Dragon Boat Festival: The Origin of the Dragon Boat Festival
    • 七夕:牛郎织女的传说
      The Double-Seventh Day: The Legend of Herdboy and Weaving Maid
    • 中秋:嫦娥奔月
      The Mid-Autumn Festival: Chang'e Flies to the Moon
    • 尊师重道:程门立雪
      Respect for One's Teacher: Standing in the Snow
  • 第三章 中国人物
  • 第四章 中国成就
  • 第五章 中国艺术
  • 第六章 中国精神