毛姆《河之歌》 -经典英译-中英双语赏析



By W. Somerset Maugham

THE SONG OF THE RIVER, from On a Chinese Screen, by William Somerset Maugham, New York, George H. Doran Company, 1922, pp. 129-130.

You hear it all along the river. You hear it, loud and strong, from the rowers as they urge the junk with its high stern, the mast lashed alongside, down the swift running stream. You hear it from the trackers, a more breathless chaunt, as they pull desperately against the current, half a dozen of them perhaps if they are taking up a wupan, a couple of hundred if they are hauling a splendid junk, its square sail set, over a rapid. On the junk, a man stands amidships beating a drum incessantly to guide their efforts, and they pull with all their strength, like men possessed, bent double; and sometimes in the extremity of their travail they craw on the ground, on all fours, like the beasts of the field. They strain, strain fiercely, against the pitiless might of the stream. The leader goes up and down the line and when he sees one who is not putting all his will into the task he brings down his split bamboo on the naked back. Each one must do his utmost or the labor of all is vain. And still they sing a vehement, eager chaunt, the chaunt of the turbulent waters. I do not know how words can describe what there is in it of effort. It serves to express the straining heart, the breaking muscles, and at the same time the indomitable spirit of man which overcomes the pitiless force of nature. Though the rope may part and the great junk swing back, in the end the rapid will be passed; and at the close of the weary day there is the hearty meal and perhaps opium pipe with its dreams of ease. But the most agonizing song is the song of the coolies who bring the great bales from the junk up the steep steps to the town wall. Up and down they go endlessly, and endless as their toil rises their rhythmic cry. He, aw-ah, oh. They are barefoot and naked to the waist. The sweat pours down their faces and their song is a groan of pain. It is a sigh of despair. It is heart-rending. It is hardly human. It is the cry of souls in infinite distress, only just musical, and that last note is the ultimate sob of humanity. Life is too hard, too cruel, and this is the final despairing protest. That is the song of the river.


junk, Chinese sailing vessel with high poop and little or no keel.

trackers, boatmen who walk along the edge of the river and pull the boat up the river against the river current. They are called trackers because they track or follow the path along the shore.

chaunt, or chant, a short or simple melody characterized by the reciting of an indefinite number of syllables to one tone; the reciting of words in musical monotones.

current, the flow of water in the river.

wupan,literally wu pan or five planks, a boat the bottom of which is made up of five planks laid side by side; just as the sampan is literally san pan or three planks.

rapid, a swift running part of the river where the surface is usually broken up by obstructions of piles of rocks.

amidships, in or towards the middle of a ship especially with regard to her length.

incessantly, continuing or following without interruption; unceasing;uninterrupted.

like men possessed, like men influenced, controlled, dominated powerfully—said especially of demons and spirits that are evil.

bent double, with body bent over into stooping or curled-up position, into an inverted V position.

travail, labor; toil; severe exertion.

on all fours, crawling on hands and knees, the four alluding to the four limbs, the two arms and the two legs.

beasts of the field, animals that work in the field.

pitiless, because the stream shows no pity.

Why does the leader beat the man who is not putting all his will into the task?

vehement, acting with great force; furious; violent.

turbulent, in commotion; violently agitated or disturbed; tumultuous.

straining, pressed to extremes; doing its utmost; forced to exert itself to the greatest possible extent; making violent efforts.

breaking, ready to come apart, usually with suddenness and violence.

indomitable, not to be subdued; unconquerable; unyielding.

part, break apart.

their rhythmic cry, their chaunt.

barefoot, not wearing shoes on their feet.

naked to the waist, stripped to the waist; without any clothing down to the waist.

sweat or perspiration is moisture that comes out through the pores of the body due, in this instance, to the hard work that the laborers are doing.

despair, desperation; hopelessness; the giving up of all hope.

heart-rending, it tears our hearts apart; it twists sympathy out of us.

hardly, scarcely; barely; almost not.

infinite, vast; immense; inexhaustible; unlimited.

ultimate sob of humanity, the last, final sob of human beings, beyond which no other sob can be so distressing.

protest, solemn declaration of opinion against some act.


  1. Who sang the song of the river?
  2. Why is it called “the song of the river”? How does it resemble the river’s flow?
  3. What is the meaning of the song?




3 河之歌



(罗选民 译)

未经允许不得转载:帕布莉卡 » 毛姆《河之歌》 -经典英译-中英双语赏析

赞 (0)