News & Events

“To go against the grain”

A Chinese carpenter Liù Sheng once said: “Wood with excellent fine grain is a guarantee of splendid poems.”

“Grain” in English has different meanings, but here it refers to the pattern of lines on the surface of the wood (“la venatura”). An expert carpenter (“falegname”) smoothes or planes (“spiana”) the wood following the direction of the grain to bring out the wood’s natural beauty and poetry! If the wood was planed in the wrong direction, against the grain, it might become rough (“ruvido”) because the carpenter wouldn’t be respecting the wood’s natural direction. So, if you go against the grain you do something which is not conventional or something which seems unnatural, even rebellious.

  • Last week President Trump went against the grain and withdrew from the Paris accord on climate change.
  • Helping children learn through play may seem to go against the grain, but it is still effective.
  • I think some of the best artists had to go against the grain to challenge our way of seeing things.
  • Getting up early to go to the gym really goes against my grain!

What goes against your grain? Write a comment on our facebook page and let us know!

Have a good week!

The English Tree Team