Ten Years to Forge a Sword

Ji Dao’s (779–843) poem was quoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping to encourage Chinese athletes to do their best at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

十年磨一剑,霜刃未曾试。
今日把试君,谁为不平事

剑客, 贾岛

Shí nián mó yī jiàn, shuāng rèn wèicéng shì.
Jīnrì bǎ shì jūn, shéi wéi bùpíng shì

Ten years to sharpen a sword. Its sharp bright edge never tried.
Today I show it to you, For whom justice was denied.

Swordsman, Ji Dao (779–843)

Jia Dao was born near modern Beijing; served as a Buddhist monk, then went to the Tang capital of Chang’an to study poetry. Despite Ji Dao’s long study, he failed the Imperial examination (jinshi) on multiple occasions. Nor did his poems make it into the Anthology of 300 Tang Poems.

Chinese President Xi Jinping thought this one appropriate to demonstrate the amount of preparation necessary to compete in the Olympics. The sense of the poem is that the swordsman (athlete) will be tested and strive to do his or her very best in competition.

剑客, Swordsman

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