七八天以前我曾对一个初次见面的朋友说：“在朋友们面前我只感到惭愧 〔16〕 。你们待我太好了，我简直没法报答你们。”这并不是谦虚的客气话，这是真的事实。说过这些话，我第二天就离开了那个朋友，并不知道以后还有没有机会再看见他。但是他给我的那一点点温暖至今还使我的心颤动 〔17〕 。
朋友是暂时的，家庭是永久的。在好些人的行为里我发见了这个信条。这个信条在我实在是不可理解的。对于我，要是没有朋友，我现在会变成怎样可怜的东西，我自己也不知道 〔18〕 。
然而朋友们把我救了。他们给了我家庭所不能给的东西。他们的友爱，他们的帮助，他们的鼓励，几次把我从深渊的边沿救回来。他们对我表示了无限的慷慨 〔19〕 。
我的生活曾经是悲苦的，黑暗的。然而朋友们把多量的同情，多量的爱，多量的欢乐，多量的眼泪分了给我，这些东西都是生存所必需的。这些不要报答的慷慨的施舍，使我的生活里也有了温暖，有了幸福 〔20〕 。我默默地接受了它们。我并不曾说过一句感激的话，我也没有做过一件报答的行为。但是朋友们却不把自私的形容词加到我的身上。对于我，他们太慷慨 〔21〕 了。
有人相信我不写文章就不能够生活。两个月以前，一个同情我的上海朋友寄稿到《广州民国日报》的副刊，说了许多关于我的生活的话。他也说我一天不写文章第二天就没有饭吃 〔22〕 。这是不确实的。这次旅行就给我证明：即使我不再写一个字，朋友们也不肯让我冻馁。世间还有许多慷慨的人，他们并不把自己个人和家庭看得异常重要，超过一切。靠了他们我才能够活到现在，而且靠了他们我还要活下去。
朋友们给我的东西是太多、太多了 〔23〕 。我将怎样报答他们呢？但是我知道他们是不需要报答的。
◎ Ba Jin
On my recent travels, I came to realize still more fully the significance of the word “friend”.
Seven or eight days ago, I said to a friend whom I had just come to know, “I can’t help feeling embarrassed before my friends. You’re all so nice to me. I simply don’t know how to repay your kindness.” I did not make this remark out of mere modesty and courtesy. I truly meant what I said. The next day, I said goodbye to this friend, not knowing if I could ever see him again. But the little warmth that he gave me has been keeping my heart throbbing with gratitude.
The length of my days will not be unlimited. However, whenever I look back on my brief past life, I find a beacon illuminating my soul and thereby lending a little brightness to my being. That beacon is friendship. I should be grateful to it because it has helped me keep alive up to now and clear away the shadow left on me by my old family.
Many people forsake their friends in favour of their own families, or at least draw a line of demarcation between families and friends, considering the former to be many times more important than the latter. That seems to be a matter of course. I have also seen with my own eyes how some people abandon their friends as well as their own careers soon after they get married …
Friends are transient whereas families are lasting — that is the tenet, as I know, guiding the behaviour of many people. To me, that is utterly inconceivable. Without friends, I would have been reduced to I don’t know what a miserable creature.
Friends are my saviours. They give me things which it is beyond my family to give. Thanks to their fraternal love, assistance and encouragement, I have time and again been saved from falling into an abyss while on its verge. They have been enormously generous towards me.
There was a time when my life was miserable and gloomy. My friends then gave me in large quantities sympathy, love, joy and tears — things essential for existence. It is due to their bountiful free gifts that I also have my share of warmth and happiness in my life. I accepted their kindnesses quietly without ever saying a word of thanks and without ever doing anything in return. In spite of that, my friends never used the epithet “self-centered” when referring to me. They are only too generous towards me.
I visited many new places and met many new friends on my recent trip. My time was mostly taken up by looking around, listening, talking and walking. But I never ran into any trouble because my friends had done their utmost to make sure that I would be short of nothing. Whatever new places I called at, I always felt at home as if I were back in my old residence in Shanghai which had already been raged to the ground by Japanese troops.
No matter how hard up and frugal my friends themselves were, they would unstintingly share with me whatever they had, although they knew I would not be able to repay them for their kindness. Some, whom I did not even know by name, showed concern over my health and went about inquiring after me. It was not until they saw my suntanned face and arms that they began to smile a smile of relief. All that was enough to move one to tears.
Some people believe that, without writing, I would lose my livelihood. One of my sympathizers, in an article published two months ago in the Guangzhou Republic Daily supplement, gives a full account of the conditions of my life. He also says that I would have nothing to live on once I should lay down my pen. That is not true at all. It has already been proved by my recent travels that my friends would never let me suffer from cold and hunger even if I should go without writing a single word. There are a great many kind-hearted people in the world who never attach undue importance to themselves and their own families and who never place themselves and their families above anything else. It is owing to them that I still survive and shall continue to survive for a long time to come.
I owe my friends many, many kindnesses. How can I repay them? But, I understand, they don’t need me to do that.
Recently I came across the following words in a book by a French philosopher:
One condition of life is consumption … Survival in this world is inseparable from generosity, without which we would perish and become dried-up from within. We must put forth flowers. Moral integrity and unselfishness are the flowers of life.
Now so many flowers of life are in full bloom before my eyes. When can my life put forth flowers? Am I already dried-up from within?
A friend of mine says, “If I were a lamp, I would illuminate darkness with my light.”
I, however, don’t qualify for a bright lamp. Let me be a piece of firewood instead. I’ll radiate the heat that I have absorbed from the sun. I’ll burn myself to ashes to provide this human world with a little warmth.
〔16〕 “在朋友面前我只感到惭愧”中的“惭愧”的意思是“不好意思”，不作“羞愧”解，因此不宜按字面译为ashamed等。可译为embarrassed或ill at ease等。
〔17〕 “使我的心颤动”译为keeping my heart throbbing with gratitude，其中with gratitude是添加的成分，原文虽无其字而有其意。
〔18〕 “我现在会变成怎样可怜的东西，我自己也不知道”译为I would have been reduced to I don’t know what a miserable creature，其中I don’t know作插入语用。
〔19〕 “无限的慷慨”译为enormously generous，其中enormously作extremely或exceedingly解，属强化修饰词（intensifying adjective）。
〔20〕 “这些不要报答的慷慨的施舍，使我的生活里也有了温暖，有了幸福”译为It is due to their bountiful free gifts that I also have my share of warmth and happiness in my life，其中bountiful的意思是“慷慨”或“大量”；my share of作“我（应有）的一份”解，用以表达原文中“也”的内涵。
〔21〕 “太慷慨”译为only too generous，其中only too是成语，作very或all too解。
〔22〕 “一天不写文章第二天就没有饭吃”中的“一天……第二天就……”在译文中用连接词once即可表达。又“没有饭吃”不宜按字面直译，现意译为have nothing to live on。
〔23〕 “朋友给我的东西是太多、太多了”中的“东西”主要指“帮助”，侧重在精神方面，虽然也可译为things，但在此不如kindnesses（＝kind acts）更为贴切。