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HomeModern Chinese EssaysShen Congwen: Chest Precipice (Excerpt)~《箱子岩(节选)》(沈从文)with English Translations

Shen Congwen: Chest Precipice (Excerpt)~《箱子岩(节选)》(沈从文)with English Translations

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箱子岩(节选)

Chest Precipice (Excerpt)

文/沈从文

译/戴乃迭

十五年以前,我有机会独坐一只小篷船,沿辰河上行,停船在箱子岩脚下。一列青黛崭削的石壁,夹江高矗,被夕阳烘炙成为一个五彩屏障。石壁半腰约百米高的石缝中,有古代巢居者的遗迹,石罅隙间横横的悬撑起无数巨大横梁,暗红色长方形大木柜尚依然好好的搁在木梁上。岩壁断折缺口处,看得见人家茅棚同水码头,上岸喝酒下船过渡人也得从这缺口通过。那一天正是五月十五,河中人过大端阳节。箱子岩洞窟中最美丽的三只龙船,早被乡下人拖出浮在水面上。船只狭而长,船舷描绘有朱红线条,全船坐满了青年桨手,头腰各缠红布。鼓声起处,船便如一支没羽箭,在平静无波的长潭中来去如飞。河身大约一里路宽,两岸皆有人看船,大声呐喊助兴。且有好事者,从后山爬到悬岩顶上去,把“铺地锦”百子边炮从高岩上抛下,尽边炮在半空中爆裂,形成一团团五彩碎纸云尘,彭彭彭彭的边炮声与水面船中锣鼓声相应和。引起人对于历史回溯发生一种幻想,一点感慨。

Fifteen years ago I chanced to charter a little boat with a bamboo canopy to sail up the River Chen. We stopped at the foot of Chest Precipice. The river here was flanked by looming black cliffs irradiated by the setting sun into a prismatic screen. In crevices half way up the cliffs, a hundred metres or so above the river were the remains of the men of old who had lived here. Countless huge beams spanned the crevices, and on these still rested big oblong wine-red chests. By an inlet in the cliff for a drink or going down to the ferry all had to pass this way. It happened to be the fifth day of the fifth month, so everyone was out on the river celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival. Three beautiful dragon boats had been lowered to the water from the cave in Chest Precipice which served as boat-house. These long narrow boats had vermilion designs on their prows; their young oarsmen wore red girdles and red turbans. When drums sounded, the boat shot out like featherless arrows to the middle of the stream, unruffled by waves. The river was about one li across, and the banks were packed with spectators, shouting to spur on the rowers, some enterprising youngsters had climbed up the back of the mountain to the cliff top, to throw down fire-crackers which went off in mid air, discharging whorls of confetti and luminous dust, their explosions an antiphony to the gonging and drumming on the boats. This made me recall the past and ruminate over history.

 

当时我心想:多古怪的一切!两千年前那个楚国逐臣屈原,若本身不被放逐,疯疯癫癫来到这种充满了奇异光彩的地方,目击身经这些惊心动魄的景物,两千年来的读书人,或许就没有福分读《九歌》那类文章,中国文学史也就不会如现在的样子了。在这一段长长岁月中,世界上多少民族皆堕落了,衰老了,灭亡了。即如号称东亚大国的一片土地,也已经有过多少次被来自西北方沙漠中的蛮族,骑了膘壮的马匹,手持强弓硬弩,长枪大戟,到处践踏蹂躏!(辛亥革命前夕,在这苗蛮杂处的一个边镇上,向土民最后一次大规模施行杀戮的统治者,就是一个北方清朝的宗室!辛亥以后,老袁梦想做皇帝时,又有两师北老在这里和滇军作战了大半年。)然而这地方的一切,虽在历史中照样发生不断的杀戮,争夺,以及一到改朝换代时,派人民担负种种不幸命运,死的因此死去,活的被逼迫留发,剪发,在生活上受新朝代种种限制与支配。然而细细一想,这些人根本上又似乎与历史毫无关系。从他们应付生存的方法与排泄感情的娱乐看上来,竟好象今古相同,不分彼此。这时节我所眼见的光景,或许就和两千年前屈原所见的完全一样。

I thought: How fantastic everything is! If Qu Yuan, a minister of the kingdom of Chua, had not been banished two thousand years ago and wandered in his frenzy to a fabulous place like this, to see such stirring sights, the scholars coming after him might not have had his glorious Nine Odes to read, and the history of Chinese literature might have been different. In those two thousand years, many races declined, grew moribund or were wiped out. This great country in the Far East was often invaded by barbarians from distant deserts in the northwest, who ran amok on sturdy horses, armed with bows, spears and halberds. (On the eve of the 1911 Revolution, it was a prince of the Manchu imperial house from the north who launched the last massacre of the Miao and other national minority people in a border town here. And after the establishment of a republic, when Yuan Shikai dreamed of making himself emperor, two more divisions from the north fought here for more than half a year with troops from Yunnan.) And yet despite all this, the endless contention and slaughter throughout history and the dynastic changes which inflicted such calamities on the people, killing some off and forcing the survivors to grow queues or cut their queues, subject to the restrictions imposed by their new rulers, on careful consideration the people here seem basically to have had no connection with history. Judging by their methods of survival and the distractions with which they work off their feelings, there appears to be no difference between past and present. The scene before me that day may have been exactly the same as that seen by Qu Yuan two thousand years ago.

 

那次我的小船停泊在箱子岩石壁下,附近还有十来只小渔船,大致打渔人也有玩龙船竞渡的,所以渔船上妇女小孩们,无不十分兴奋,各站在尾梢上或船篷上锐声呼喊。其中有几个小孩子,我只担心他们太快乐兴奋,会把住家的小船跳沉。

My boat moored at the foot of Chest Precipice near a dozen small fishing-boats. As the fishermen had gone to join in the boat race, there were only excited women and children on board, standing at the stern or on the canopy cheering. I was afraid some of the children, who were dancing with excitement, might capsize the little houseboats.

 

日头落尽云影无光时,两岸渐渐消失在温柔暮色里。两岸看船人呼喝声越来越少,河面被一片紫雾笼罩,除了从锣鼓声中尚能辨别那些龙船方向,此外已别无所见。而岩壁缺口处却人声嘈杂,且闻有小孩子哭声,有妇女们尖锐叫唤声,综合给人一种悠然不尽的感觉。天已经夜了,吃饭是正经事。我原先尚以为再等一会儿,那龙船一定就会傍近岩边来休息,被人拖进石窟里,在快乐呼喊中结束这个节日了。谁知过了许久,那种锣鼓声尚在河面飘扬着,表示一班人还不愿意离开小船,回转家中。待到我把晚饭吃过后,爬出舱外一望,呀,天上好一轮圆月。月光下石壁同河面,一切如镀了银,已完全变换了一种调子。岩壁缺口处水码头边,正有人用废竹缆或油柴燃着火燎,火光下只见许多穿白衣人的影子移动。问问船上水手,方知道那些人正把酒食搬移上船,预备分派给龙船上人。原来这些青年人白日里划了一整天船,看船的已慢慢散尽了,划船的还不尽兴,并且谁也不愿意扫兴示弱,先行上岸,因此三只长船还得在月光下玩个上半夜。

After sunset the light faded. By degrees both banks were swallowed up in the soft dusk. The shouts of the spectators subsided too. A purple mist covered the river and the dragon boats were lost from sight, though gonging and drumming disclosed their whereabouts. Still a babel of voices could be heard from the inlet, the crying children and vociferous women combing to induce a sense of infinitude. It was dark now, tome for a meal. I had intended to wait till the dragon boats came back to rest and were hauled up into the cave as the festival ended amidst jubilant shouts. But although a long time went by, gonging and drumming still floated over the river, showing that most people were not yet willing to leave their boats and go home. By the time I finished supper and crawled out of my cabin to look round, why, a fine full moon had risen! Moonlight had silvered the cliffs and everything on the river, transforming the scene. By the wharf, fires of old hawsers or firewood had been lit. the firelight showed shadowy white figures milling around. I learned from the boatmen that they were carrying food and liquor aboard to deliver to the crews of the dragon boats. The young oarsmen had rowed all day, yet now that the spectators were scattering they wanted to keep it up, no crew willing to give up or be the first to go ashore. So those three boats would go on racing till midnight.

 

提起这件事,使我重新感到人类文字语言的贫俭。那一派声音,那一种情调,真不是用文字语言可以形容的事情。要一个长年身在城市里住下,以读读《楚辞》就“神王意移”的人,来描绘那月下竞舟的一切,更近于徒然的努力。我可以说的,只是自从我把这次水上所领略的印象保留到心上后,一切书本上的动人记载,全看得平平常常,不至于发生任何惊讶了。这正象我另外一时,看过人类许多不同花样的愚蠢杀戮,对于其余书上叙述到这件事情时,同样不能再给我如何感动。

Mention of this brings home to me again the poverty of human language. For the truth is that no words can describe those sounds or that atmosphere. Townsfolk may be exhilarated by reading the Songs of the South, but to describe that moonlight boat race to them would be virtually labour lost. I confess that since retaining my impression of the river that night, any exciting descriptions in books strike me as nondescript, nothing to marvel at. Just as, at a different period, I witnessed so many kinds of senseless slaughter that no accounts of such things in other books can stir me.

–(整理自网络)

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