Three Character Classic
hau2 ji4 zung6, sam1 ji4 wai4, ziu1 jyu1 si1, zik6 jyu1 si1
Recite them with the mouth,
and ponder over them in your hearts.
Do this in the morning;
do this in the evening.
sik1 zung6 nei4, si1 hong6 tok3, gu2 sing3 jin4, soeng6 kan4 hok6
Of old, Confucius
took Xiang Tuo for his teacher.
The inspired men and sages of old
studied diligently nevertheless.
ziu6 zung1 ling6, duk6 lou5 leon6, bei2 gei3 si6, hok6 ce2 kan4
Zhao, president of the Council,
studied the Lu text of the Lun Yu.
He, when already an official,
studied, and moreover with diligence.
pei1 pou4 pin1, soek3 zuk1 gaan2, bei2 mou4 syu1, ce2 zi1 min5
One opened out rushes and plaited them together;
another scraped tablets of bamboo.
These men had no books,
but they knew how to make an effort.
tau4 jyun4 loeng4, zeoi1 ci3 gu2, bei2 bat1 gaau3, zi6 kan4 fu2
One tied his head to the beam above him;
another pricked his thigh with an awl.
They were not taught,
but toiled hard of their own accord.
jyu4 nong4 jing4, jyu4 jing2 syut3, gaa1 seoi1 pan4, hok6 bat1 zeoi3
Then we have one who put fireflies in a bag.
and again another who used the white glare from snow.
Although their families were poor,
these men studied unceasingly.
jyu4 fu6 san1, jyu4 gwaa3 gok3, san1 seoi1 lou4, jau4 fu2 coek3
Again, there was one who carried fuel,
and another who used horns as pegs.
Although they toiled with their bodies,
they were nevertheless remarkable for their application.
sou1 lou5 cyun4, ji6 sap6 cat1, ci2 faat3 fan5, duk6 syu1 zik6
at the age of twenty-seven,
at last began to show his energy
and devote himself to the study of books.
bei2 gei3 lou5, jau4 fui3 ci4, ji5 siu2 sang1, ji4 zou2 si1
Then when already past the age,
he deeply regretted his delay.
You little boys
should take thought betimes.
joek6 loeng4 hou6, baat3 sap6 ji6, deoi3 daai6 ting4, fui1 do1 si6
Then there were Liang Hao,
who at the age of eighty-two,
made his replies in the great hall,
and came out first among many scholars.
bei2 gei3 sing4, zung3 cing1 ji6, ji5 siu2 sang1, ji4 lap6 zi3
When thus late he had succeeded,
all men pronounced him a prodigy.
You little boys
should make up your minds to work.
jing4 baat3 seoi3, nang4 wing6 si1, bat6 cat1 seoi3, nang4 fu3 kei4
Ying, at eight years of age,
could compose poetry.
Bi, at seven years of age,
could make an epigram on wei-qi.
bei2 wing6 ng6, jan4 cing1 kei4, ji5 jau3 hok6, dong1 haau6 zi1
These youths were quick of apprehension,
and people declared them to be prodigies.
You young learners
ought to imitate them.
coi3 man4 gei1, nang4 bin6 kam4, ze6 dou6 wan3, nang4 wing6 jam4
was able to judge from the sound of a psaltery.
was able to compose verses.
bei2 neoi5 zi2, ce2 cung1 man5, ji5 naam4 zi2, dong1 zi6 ging2
They were only girls,
yet they were quick and clever.
ought to rouse yourselves.
tong4 lau4 ngaan3, fong1 cat1 seoi3, geoi2 san4 tung4, zok3 zing3 zi6
Liu Yan of the Tang dynasty,
when only seven years of age,
was ranked as an "inspired child,"
and was appointed a Corrector of Texts.
bei2 seoi1 jau3, san1 ji5 si6, ji5 jau3 hok6, min5 ji4 zi3, jau5 wai4 ze2, jik6 joek6 si6
He, although a child,
was already in an official post.
You young learners
strive to bring about a like result.
Those who work
will also succeed as he did.
hyun2 sau2 je6, gai1 si1 san4, gau2 bat1 hok6, hot3 wai4 jan4
The dog keeps guard by night;
the cock proclaims the dawn.
If foolishly you do not study,
how can you become men?
caam4 tou3 si1, fung1 joeng6 mat6, jan4 bat1 hok6, bat1 jyu4 mat6
The silkworm produces silk,
the bee makes honey.
If a man does not learn,
he is not equal to the brutes
jau3 ji4 hok6, zong3 ji4 hang4, soeng5 zi3 gwan1, haa6 zaak6 man4
Learn while young,
and when grown up apply what you have learnt;
influencing the sovereign above;
benefiting the people below.
joeng4 ming4 sing1, hin2 fu6 mou5, gwong1 jyu1 cin4, jyu6 jyu1 hau6
Make a name for yourselves,
and glorify your father and mother,
shed lustre on your ancestors,
enrich your posterity.
jan4 wai4 zi2, gam1 mun5 jing4, ngo5 gaau3 zi2, wai4 jat1 ging1
Men bequeath to their children
coffers of gold;
I teach you children
only this one book.
kan4 jau5 gung1, hei3 mou4 jik1, gaai3 zi1 zoi1, ji4 min5 lik6
Diligence has its reward;
play has no advantages.
Oh, be on your guard,
and put forth your strength.