Feet of clay, tongue of wood

Mouth of gold; break the mold


Literally: gold / metal – mouth – tree / wood – tongue

Alternately: Someone who leads the people through skillful (spoken) expression. A guide or leader of public opinion. The image is of a metal bell with a wooden clapper, as was apparently used in ancient China as notice of official pronouncements.

Notes: 木 may also be pronounced moku, although this seems to be less common.

This phrase comes to us from the Fayan, (『法言』, Hougen in Japanese) a.k.a. the Model Sayings, a 2000-year-old collection of writings in the form of, let us say, Socratic dialogues, except the Socrates is actually poet Yang Xiong (揚雄, You Yuu).


The original social-media influencer

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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