毛姆《河之歌》 -经典英译-中英双语赏析

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THE SONG OF THE RIVER

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.

Notes

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.

Questions

  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?

参考译文

【作品简介】

《河之歌》一文选自毛姆所著《在中国的屏风上》,纽约乔治·H.多兰公司1922年出版,129—130页。

3 河之歌

沿着河流一路都可以听到这歌声。这是桨手的歌声,响亮有力。他们奋力地划着木船,顺急流而下,船尾翘得老高,桅杆猛烈地摆动。这是纤夫的号子声,他们在拼尽全力逆流拉船时,声音会更加急促,让人透不过气来。如果拉的是乌篷船,那可能有十几个人;如果拉的是扬着横帆的华丽大木船过急流,那就得有几百人。船中央站着一个汉子不停地击鼓,给他们助威,让他们使劲。于是纤夫们使出浑身气力,就像被魔咒驱使般,腰弯成了九十度。有时在极度费力的情况下,他们就全身趴地匍匐前进,像地里的牲口。顶着河水无情的阻力,他们拉呀,拉呀,拼命地拉。领头的在队伍前后来回奔走,看到有人没有拼尽全力,就用劈开的竹条抽打他们裸露的脊梁。每个人都必须全力以赴,否则所有的努力就白费了。就这样他们还唱着激昂又热切的号子,这是汹涌澎湃的河水的号子。我不知道如何用言语来描述这股劲儿,这里面带着心脏的拉扯,肌肉的撕裂,还有人们克服无情大自然时所表现出的不屈不挠的精神。虽然绳子可能断开,大船可能又会被荡回,但他们最终能涉过湍流,在疲惫的一天结束后,热闹地吃上一顿饱饭,也许还可以抽一枪鸦片,舒服地幻想一番。然而最令人揪心的是岸上的苦力唱的歌,他们得背着从船上卸下的大包,沿着陡峭的台阶,一直走到城墙那里。他们不停地上上下下,伴随着无尽的劳役响起有节奏的呐喊:嘿,哟——嗨,哟。他们赤着脚,光着膀子,汗水顺着脸颊直流。歌声里渗透着痛苦的呻吟。这是一种绝望的叹息,撕心裂肺,惨绝人寰。这是灵魂在极度痛苦中的呐喊,只不过带着音乐的节奏罢了。那最后的音符是对人性的终极哭诉。生活太难,太残酷,这是最后的绝望的反抗。那就是河之歌。

 

(罗选民 译)

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