冰心《我的童年》 -经典散文英译-中英双语赏析

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◎ 冰 心 Bing Xin

我的童年

◎ 冰心

提到童年,总使人有些向往,不论童年生活是快乐,是悲哀,人们总觉得都是生命中最深刻的一段①;有许多印象,许多习惯②,深固的刻画在③他的人格及气质上,而影响他的一生。

我的童年生活,在许多零碎的文字里,不自觉的已经描写了许多,当曼瑰对我提出这个题目的时候,我还觉得有兴味,而欣然执笔。

中年的人,不愿意再说些情感的话④,虽然在回忆中充满了含泪的微笑,我只约略的画出我童年的环境和训练,以及遗留在我的嗜好或习惯上的一切,也许有些父母们愿意用来作参考。

先说到我的遗传⑤:我的父亲是个海军将领,身体很好,我从不记得他在病榻上躺着过⑥。我的祖父身体也很好,八十六岁无疾而终。我的母亲却很瘦弱;常常头痛,吐血——这吐血的症候,我也得到,不是肺结核,而是肺气枝涨大,过劳或操心,都会发作——因此我童年时代记忆所及的母亲,是个极温柔,极安静的女人,不是作活计,就是看书,她的生活是非常恬淡的。

虽然母亲说过,我在会吐奶的时候,就吐过血,而在我的童年时代,并不曾发作过,我也不记得我那时生过什么大病,身体也好,精神也活泼,于是那七八年山陬海隅的生活,我多半是父亲的孩子,而少半是母亲的女儿⑦!

在我以先,母亲生过两个哥哥,都是一生下就夭折了,我的底下,还死去一个妹妹。我的大弟弟,比我小六岁。在大弟弟未生之前,我在家里是个独子。

环境把童年的我,造成一个“野孩子”,丝毫没有少女的气息。我们的家,总是住近海军兵营,或海军学校。四围没有和我同年龄的女伴,我没有玩过“娃娃”,没有学过针线,没有搽过脂粉,没有穿过鲜艳的衣服,没有戴过花⑧。

反过来说,因着母亲的病弱,和家里的冷静,使得我整天跟在父亲的身边,参加了他的种种工作与活动,得到了连一般男子都得不到的经验。为一切方便起见,我总是男装,常着军服。父母叫我“阿哥”,弟弟们称呼我“哥哥”,弄得后来我自己也忘其所以了。

父亲办公的时候,也常常有人带我出去,我的游踪所及,是旗台,炮台,海军码头,火药库,龙王庙。我的谈伴是修理枪炮的工人、看守火药库的残废兵士、水手、军官,他们多半是山东人,和蔼而质朴,他们告诉我以许多海上新奇悲壮的故事。有时也遇见农夫和渔人,谈些山中海上的家常。那时除了我的母亲和父亲同事的太太们外,几乎轻易见不到一个女性。

四岁以后,开始认字。六七岁就和我的堂兄表兄们同在家里读书。他们比我大了四五岁,仍旧是玩不到一处,我常常一个人走到山上海边去。那是极其熟识的环境,一草一石,一沙一沫,我都有无限的亲切。我常常独步在沙岸上,看潮来的时候,仿佛天地都飘浮了起来!潮退的时候,仿佛海岸和我都被吸卷了去!童稚的心,对着这亲切的“伟大”,常常感到怔忡⑨。黄昏时,休息的军号吹起,四山回响,声音凄壮而悠长,那熟识的调子,也使我莫名其妙的要下泪,我不觉得自己的“闷”,只觉得自己的“小”。

因着没有游伴,我很小就学习看书,得了个“好读书,不求甚解”的习惯。我的老师很爱我,常常教我背些诗句,我似懂似不懂的有时很能欣赏。比如那“前不见古人,后不见来者,念天地之悠悠,独怆然而涕下”。我独立山头的时候,就常常默诵它。

离我们最近的城市,就是烟台,父亲有时带我下去,赴宴会,逛天后宫,或是听戏。父亲并不喜听戏,只因那时我正看《三国》,父亲就到戏园里点戏给我听,如《草船借箭》,《群英会》,《华容道》等。看见书上的人物,走上舞台,虽然不懂得戏词,我也觉得很高兴。所以我至今还不讨厌京戏。

再大一点,学会了些精致的淘气⑩,我的玩具已从铲子和沙桶,进步到蟋蟀罐同风筝,我收集美丽的小石子,在磁缸里养着,我学作诗,写章回小说,但都不能终篇,因为我的兴趣,仍在户外,低头伏案的时候很少。

父亲喜欢种花养狗,公余之暇,这是他唯一的消遣。因此我从小不怕动物,对于花木,更有普遍的爱好。母亲不喜欢狗,却也爱花,夏夜我们常常在豆棚花架下,饮啤酒,汽水,乘凉。母亲很早就进去休息,父亲便带我到旗台上去看星,他指点给我各个星座的名称和位置。他常常说:“你看星星不是很多很小,而且离我们很远么?但是我们海上的人一时都离不了它。在海上迷路的时候看见星星就如同看见家人一样。”因此我至今爱星甚于爱月。

父亲又常常带我去参观军舰,指点给我军舰上的一切,我只觉得处处都是整齐,清洁,光亮,雪白;心里总有说不出的赞叹同羡慕。我也常得亲近父亲的许多好友,如萨镇冰先生,黄赞侯先生。他们都是极严肃,同时又极慈蔼,生活是那样纪律,那样恬淡,他们也作诗,同父亲常常唱和,他们这一班人是当时文人所称为的“裘带歌壶,翩翩儒将”。我当时的理想,是想学父亲,学父亲的这些好友,并不曾想到我的“性”阻止了我作他们的追随者⑪。

这种生活一直连续到了十一岁,此后我们回到故乡——福州——去,生活起了很大的转变。我也不能不感谢这个转变!十岁以前的训练,若再继续下去,我就很容易变成一个男性的女人,心理也许就不会健全。因着这个转变,我才渐渐的从父亲身边走到母亲的怀里,而开始我的少女时期了。

童年的印象和事实,遗留在我的性格上的,第一是我对于人生态度的严肃,我喜欢整齐,纪律,清洁的生活,我怕看怕听放诞,散漫,松懈的一切。

第二是我喜欢空阔高远的环境,我不怕寂寞,不怕静独,我愿意常将自己消失在空旷辽阔之中。因此一到了野外,就如同回到了故乡,我不喜城居,怕应酬,我没有城市的嗜好。

第三是我不喜欢穿鲜艳颜色的衣服,我喜欢的是黑色,蓝色,灰色,白色。有时母亲也勉强我穿过一两次稍为鲜艳的衣服,我总觉得很忸怩,很不自然,穿上立刻就要脱去,关于这一点,我觉得完全是习惯的关系,其实在美好的品味之下,少女爱好天然,是应该“打扮”的!

第四是我喜欢爽快,坦白,自然的交往。我很难勉强我自己做些不愿意做的事,见些不愿意见的人,吃些不愿意吃的饭!母亲常说这是“任性”之一种,不能成为“伟大”的人格⑫。

第五是我一生对于军人普遍的尊敬,军人在我心中是高尚,勇敢,纪律的结晶。关系军队的一切,我也都感到兴趣。

说到童年,我常常感谢我的好父母,他们养成我一种恬淡,“返乎自然”的习惯,他们给我一个快乐清洁的环境,因此,在任何环境里都能自足,知足。我尊敬生命,宝爱生命,我对于人类没有怨恨,我觉得许多缺憾是可以改进的,只要人们有决心,肯努力。

我不但常常感念我的父母,我也常常警惕我们应当怎样做父母。

My Childhood

Bing Xin

People are generally inclined to cherish the memory of their childhood.Be it happy or sad, it is always regarded as the most significant part of one’s life. Many early impressions and habits are so deeply etched in one’s character and temperament that they will affect him all through his life.

I have often inadvertently touched upon my childhood life here and there in my previous writings. Now that Man Gui suggested that I write exclusively on the topic of my childhood, I thought it worth a try and hence set pen to paper without reluctance.

As a middle-aged woman, I try to keep from being sentimental again in writing about the old days. Though I often smile with tears in my eyes while reminiscing, I choose only to sketch out my childhood environment and upbringing as well as the hobbies and habits that have since remained with me — things which may perhaps serve as reference for some parents of today.

Let me begin with my family background. My father was a high-ranking naval officer. He was very healthy and strong and I do not remember ever to have found him confined to bed by sickness. My grandfather, also very healthy and strong, died without illness at the age of 86. My mother, however, was very thin and weak, often suffering from headaches and blood-spitting — an illness I was once also liable to. It was caused not by pulmonary tuberculosis, but by the enlarged bronchial tubes or overwork and care. In short, as I remember, my mother was a very gentle and quiet woman. She spent her time either working or reading. She lived a very calm life.

According to my mother, I used to spit blood when I was a suckling baby, but this trouble never recurred in my childhood. Nor do I remember ever to have suffered from any serious illness during those days. On the contrary, I was in perfect condition both mentally and physically. Therefore, during those seven or eight years when moving about with my folks far away from our home town Fuzhou, I was, in terms of physical health, more than 50 per cent like my father and less than 50 per cent like my mother.

I had two elder brothers who died soon after they were born. I had a younger sister who died young. My eldest younger brother is six years my junior. Therefore, before he was born, I was the only child of the family.

Under the circumstances, I became much more like a “naughty little boy” than a young girl. My home was always situated near a naval barracks or naval academy. I found in the neighborhood no female companions of my age group. I never played with a doll, never learned how to do needlework, never used cosmetics, never wore colours or flowers.

What with my mother’s ailing health and what with the loneliness I felt at home, I was compelled to seek the company of my father all day long. I was with him while he was going about his work and various other activities, thus acquiring experience beyond the reach of even an average male adult. I was often dressed, for convenience’ sake, boy-fashion or in military uniform. So my parents would call me “Ah Ge”⑬ and my younger brothers would call me “Elder Brother” until I almost forgot what I really was.

Often, while my father was attending to his official duties, somebody would take me out on visits to such places as naval ship bridges, batteries, naval wharves, powder magazines and Temple of the Dragon King. I would chat with workers repairing guns, disabled servicemen looking after powder magazines, sailors and naval officers. Being mostly from Shandong Province, they were very amiable and unsophisticated. From them I heard many a strange story about tragic and stirring incidents at sea. Sometimes farmers and fishermen whom I met would talk about their daily life in the mountains and at sea respectively. In those days, apart from my mother and wives of my father’s colleagues, I seldom met with any womenfolks.

I began to learn to read after I was four years of age. At about seven I took private lessons at home together with some male cousins of mine. Being four or five years older than I, they never became my playmates. So I often went alone to enjoy myself in the mountains or by the seaside. I was very familiar with the surrounding country, and over there I loved every blade of grass, every pebble, every grain of sand and every drop of water. I would stroll along the seashore by myself. When the tide was coming in, I felt as if the whole universe were afloat in the air. When the tide was ebbing, I felt as if I were being carried away by the receding waves along with the seashore. Faced with the endearing grandeur of nature, I often felt my young heart palpitating with awe. At dusk, when the bugle announced the end of the day’s duty, its long-drawn-out sound, at once melancholy and stirring, reverberated throughout the surrounding mountains. And its familiar tunes would inexplicably call forth tears in my eyes. At the moment, instead of ennui, I had the feeling of being so small myself.

For lack of playmates, I often spent my time in learning to read and in time formed the habit of reading avidly without bothering to understand everything thoroughly. My tutor, who was very affectionate towards me, wanted me to learn by heart some poems. I appreciated some of them very much though they were beyond my full comprehension. One of them is as follows:

I fail to see the ancients before my time,

Or after me the generations to come.

Thinking of the eternity of Heaven and Earth,

All alone, sadly I shed tears.

I often recited it silently while standing on top of a mountain.

The town nearest to our home was Yantai. My father sometimes took me there to attend a banquet, visit Tian Hou Palace or see an opera. He was not fond of Beijing opera, but since he knew I was then reading the classical novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, he took me to a playhouse where he selected for performing some pieces based upon the episodes of the novel, such as “Arrows and the Straw-laden Boat”, “A Meeting of Heroes”, “Hua Rong Path”, etc. Although I couldn’t understand a line of them, I was nevertheless very much amused to see actors on the stage impersonating different characters of the novel. That’s why even to this day I have no aversion at all to Beijing opera.

As I grew older, I upgraded my juvenile pursuits. Crickets and kites took the place of shovels and sand pails as more advanced toys. I collected colourful pebbles and kept them in a porcelain bowl. I tried my hand at writing poems and novels, but always left them unfinished because I was more interested in outdoor activities than sedentary work at home.

My father was fond of planting flowers and keeping a dog, which was his only pastime in his after-office hours. Because of that, I’ve never been afraid of animals and always loved flowers and trees. My mother also loved flowers, but she didn’t like dogs. In summer we often sat under the bean or flower trellises to enjoy the evening cool and drink beer or soda water. My mother kept early hours, so, after she went indoors, my father would take me to the naval ship bridge to watch the stars. He would point out various constellations and tell me their names and positions. He often said, “Look, the numerous stars are far away from us, but we sailors can’t for a single moment go without them. When we get lost a sea, we’ll look to them like they were our dear folks.” Hence my lifelong preference of the stars over the moon.

My father often took me to a naval ship and showed me around. It aroused in me an inexpressible feeling of admiration to see everything on board so spick-and-span, and so glossy and spotlessly white. I also often had the opportunity of meeting many good friends of my father’s, among them Mr. Sa Zhenbing⑭ and Mr. Huang Zanhou⑮. They were as grave as kind, self-disciplined, and calm and modest. Sometimes, they also wrote poems, often in response to those by my father, on the same theme and using the same rhyme pattern. They were among those described as “scholar-generals” by the literati of those days. It was my ardent dream then to make a “scholar-general” of myself by following in the footsteps of my father and his friends, unaware that being a female, I was disqualified from becoming their disciple.

All that lasted until I returned with my folks to my home town Fuzhou at the age of eleven. I cannot help feeling grateful now for the drastic change it brought to my life. Had I continued the training I had been undergoing before I was eleven, I might have become very masculine and mentally unhealthy. Thanks to this change, I gradually moved away from my father’s side and back to my mother’s embrace, thus living the life of a young girl.

The experience I gained in childhood has impressed the following on my character:

First, I keep an earnest attitude towards life. I love orderliness, discipline and cleanliness. I hate to see or hear of things absurd, undisciplined or slack.

Secondly, I love an open and high environment. I’m not afraid of loneliness and seclusion. I’m willing often to get myself lost in wide open spaces. Therefore, the moment I’m in an open country, I’ll immediately feel like being back in my old home. I don’t like to live in a city. I’m afraid of socializing. I don’t crave for things urban.

Thirdly, I always prefer to be dressed in black, blue, grey and white rather than gay colours. On a couple of occasions, I did wear bright-coloured dresses at my mother’s insistence, which made me feel so awkward and uncomfortable that I had soon to take them off. However, I think all that is just a matter of habit. In fact, it’s quite all right for young girls to be “decked out” to follow their natural inclination for beauty so long as it is in good taste.

Fourthly, I like to be straightforward, frank and unaffected in associating with other people. I never force myself to do what I’m unwilling to do, meet people I don’t want to meet or eat meals I dislike. Hence my mother said I was sort of a wilful child destined to get nowhere.

Fifthly, I respect soldiers all my life. To me, they are the embodiment of nobility, courage and discipline. I am interested in everything associated with the armed forces.

Talking of my childhood, I’m forever grateful to my good parents. To them I owe my habit of living a quiet and simple life and my “back to nature” propensity. They gave me a happy and clean environment so that I am now able to feel content under any circumstances. I have a deep respect and love for life. I have no grievances against humanity. I think many human failings can be remedied so long as people strive with firm determination.

Not only do I always remember my parents with gratitude, I also always bear in mind how we should behave ourselves as parents.

《我的童年》是著名女作家冰心(1900—1999)1942年3月写于重庆歌乐山的一篇散文。作者出生于福州一个温馨慈爱之家,父亲是海军军官,母亲知书达理。她童年时期曾随父母多年居住在渤海之滨的烟台,直到11岁才回福州。文章就是对这一段海边生活的深情回忆,笔调率真坦诚,语言清新典雅。

注释

①“生命中最深刻的一段”译为the most significant part of one’s life。“最深刻的”的意思是“具有深长意义的”,应译the most significant,不应按字面译为the deepest等。

②“许多印象,许多习惯”如仅仅译为many impressions and habits是不够的,须在many后面加early一词,或把全文译为many impressions and habits one has acquired in this period等。

③“深固的刻画在……”除译为deeply etched in …外,也可译为deeply engraved in …或deeply embedded in …。

④“不愿意再说些情感的话”意即“写时不再溺于柔情”,故译为I try to keep from being sentimental again in writing about the old days或I’ll refrain from writing in a sentimental way again,其中to keep from的意思是“避免”;in writing about the old days是增益成分。

⑤“先说到我的遗传”不宜照字面直译,应按“先谈谈我的家庭背景”译为Let me begin with my family background。

⑥“在病榻上躺着过”译为confined to bed by sickness。也可译成lying on a sickbed。

⑦“我多半是父亲的孩子,而少半是母亲的女儿”译为I was, in terms of physical health, more than 50 per cent like my father and less than 50 per cent like my mother,其中in terms of physical health是增益成分,原文虽无其词而有其意。此句也可用意译法处理:I was, in terms of physical health, more like my father than my mother。

⑧“没有穿过鲜艳的衣服,没有戴过花”译为never wore colours or flowers,其中colours作“彩色衣服”解,相当于bright-coloured dresses。

⑨“童稚的心,对着这亲切的‘伟大’,常常感到怔忡”意即“面对这亲切的大自然,我的幼小心灵常为之颤动”,故译为Faced with the endearing grandeur of nature, I often felt my young heart palpitating with awe,其中with awe(带着敬畏的心情)是增益成分。此句也可译成My young heart would often palpitate under the spell of the endearing grandeur of nature,其中spell作“魅力”、“吸引”等解。

⑩“学会了些精致的淘气”意即“有了更高级的玩具”或“获得了更高尚的消遣”,故译为I upgraded my juvenile pursuits。

⑪“不曾想到我的‘性’阻止了我作他们的追随者”译为unaware that being a female, I was disqualified from becoming their disciple。“我的‘性’意即“作为一个女性”,故译being a female;“阻止了我……”意即“没有资格……”,故译was disqualified from …。又,“追随者”译成disciple或follower皆可。

⑫“不能成为‘伟大’的人格”意即“注定无所作为”、“注定没出息”,故译destined to get nowhere或destined to be a good-for-nothing,其中destined作“注定”、“必将”解。

⑬ A pet name in the Fuzhou dialect meaning “Elder Brother”.

⑭ Sa Zhenbing (1858-1952), a native of Fuzhou, received naval training in Great Britain at an early age and later held important navel and government posts until he resigned in 1927 to show his displeasure at the dictatorial rule of Chiang Kai-shek. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, he was assigned to key government positions.

⑮ Huang Zanhou. alias Huang Zhongying, also from Fuzhou, was the first Naval Minister of the Republic of China.

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