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Ye Shengtao’s Essay: A Place Without Autumn Insects — modern chinese literature 叶圣陶《没有秋虫的地方》

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没有秋虫①的地方

◎ 叶圣陶

阶前看不见一茎绿草,窗外望不见一只蝴蝶,谁说是鹁鸽②箱里的生活,鹁鸽未必这样趣味干燥呢。秋天来了,记忆就轻轻提示道:“凄凄切切的秋虫又要响起来了。”可是一点影响也没有③,邻舍儿啼人闹,弦歌杂作的深夜,街上轮震石响,邪许④并起的清晨,无论你靠着枕儿听,凭着窗沿听,甚至贴着墙角听,总听不到一丝的秋虫的声息。并不是被那些欢乐的劳困的宏大的清亮的声音淹没了,以致听不出来,乃是这里本没有秋虫这东西。呵,不容留秋虫的地方!秋虫所不屑留的地方⑤!

若是在鄙野的乡间,这时令满耳是虫声了。白天与夜间一样地安闲;一切人物或动或静,都有自得之趣;嫩暖的阳光或者轻淡的云影覆盖在场上,到夜呢,明耀的星月或者徐缓的凉风看守着整夜,在这境界这时间唯一的足以感动心情的就是虫儿们的合奏。它们高、低、宏、细、疾、徐、作、歇,仿佛曾经过乐师的精心训练,所以这样地无可批评,踌躇满志⑥,其实他们每一个都是神妙的乐师;众妙毕集⑦,各抒灵趣,那有不成人间绝响的呢。虽然这些虫声会引起劳人⑧的感叹,秋士⑨的伤怀,独客⑩的微喟,思妇⑪的低泣;但是这正是无上的美的境界,绝好的自然诗篇,不独是旁人最欢喜吟味的,就是当境者也感受一种酸酸的麻麻的味道,这种味道在一方面是非常隽永的。

大概我们所蕲求的不在于某种味道,只要时时有点儿味道尝尝⑫,就自诩为生活不空虚了。假若这味道是甜美的,我们固然含着笑意来体味它;若是酸苦的,我们也要皱着眉头来辨尝它;这总比淡漠无味⑬胜过百倍。我们以为最难堪而亟欲逃避的,惟有这一个淡漠无味!

所以心如槁木不如工愁多感,迷蒙的醒不如热的梦,一口苦水胜于一盏白汤,一场痛哭胜于哀乐两忘。但这里并不是说愉快乐观是要不得的,清健的醒是不须求的,甜汤是罪恶的,狂笑是魔道的。这里只说有味总比淡漠远胜罢了⑭。

所以虫声终于是足系恋念的东西。又况劳人、秋士、独客、思妇以外还有无量的人,他们当然也是酷嗜味道的,当这凉意微逗的时候,谁能不忆起那妙美的秋之音乐?

可是没有,绝对没有!井底似的庭院,铅色的水门汀地,秋虫早已避去惟恐不速了。而我们没有它们的翅膀与大腿,不能飞又不能跳,还是死守在这里。想到“井底”与“铅色”,觉得象征的意味丰富极了。

A Place Without Autumn Insects

Ye Shengtao

Not a single blade of green grass beyond the doorsteps, nor a single butterfly outside the window. It is a place even more dry and dull than a pigeon house. The advent of autumn has vaguely reminded me of the season’s insects once again chirping plaintively. However, so far none of it is heard. All I hear late at night is the din from the houses in the neighbourhood — crying of babies, hubbub of grown-ups and confused noise of music and song. And all I hear in the early morning is the rumble of vehicles on the stone pavements and the simultaneous yo-ho of labourers on the streets. You hear no insects chirping however you try, by leaning your head on the pillow, over the window, or against the wall. Not because, drowned by the overwhelming din of merry-making or suffering, it has thus become inaudible, but because this place is utterly devoid of autumn insects. O a place leaving no room for autumn insects! Or rather a place where the insects themselves disdain to stay!

At a time like this, if I were in the lowly countryside, I would hear insects all around me. There peace and tranquillity prevail day and night. All living beings, whether moving or at rest, stand to enjoy life in their own way. In the daytime, the sun shining warm and cozy with thin clouds floating over the fields, while during the night, the moon and stars hanging bright in the sky with soft breezes cooling the air. The only thing capable of affecting our mood then and there is the chorus by insects. Their performance, with a voice high or low, sonorous or piping, quick or slow, sustained or suspended, is flawless and skilful, as if they had undergone thorough training under a music master. In fact, each and every one of them is a consummate music master all by itself. As a constellation of fine artists, they each give full play to their unique talent. No wonder their performance has reached the peak of artistic perfection. It makes toilers sigh with feeling, old forgotten scholars grieve over their luckless past, lonely travellers murmur moodily and solitary women weep silent tears. All that makes for the highest state of beauty on earth and natural poetry of super excellence. Not only does it intrigue onlookers, but also brings a bitter feeling to the party concerned. Such a feeling is, to a certain extent, of profound significance.

Perhaps what we seek for is not a specific feeling, but just a bit of any feeling now and then, so that we can praise ourselves for living a life free from spiritual barrenness. If it happens to be a sweet feeling, let’s savour it with a smile. If it happens to be a bitter feeling, we should still try to taste it, albeit with knitted brows, for it is a hundred times better than absence of any feeling, which is most unbearable and should be avoided by all means.

Therefore, being sentimental is better than apathetic, having a warm dream is better than becoming a living corpse, drinking a bitter cup is better than a cup of insipid water, having a good cry is better than being insensitive to both sorrow and happiness. This does not mean, however, that happiness and optimism are no good, healthy wakefulness is undesirable, sweets of life are evil and hearty laughter is vicious. What I mean here is that susceptibility is always preferable to insensibility.

Hence, the insects’s song is something we always long for. In addition to the above-mentioned toilers, old forgotten scholars, lonely travellers and solitary women, innumerable other people are equally susceptible. With a chill in the air, who wouldn’t think of the beautiful music of autumn?

But none of it exits. Absolutely none! The courtyard is as still as the bottom of a well, the cement ground is leaden. Insects have long been keeping clear of a place like this. Without their wings and legs, we cannot fly or leap as they do. We have to stick to this place. How pregnant with meaning are the two expressions — “the bottom of a well” and “leaden”!

《没有秋虫的地方》是叶圣陶早期的一篇散文。文章通过描写秋虫汇集的乡间,来衬托没有秋虫的都市庭院生活的枯燥乏味。作者夹叙夹议,倾谈“心如槁木不如工愁善感”的哲理。

注释

①“秋虫”主要指“蟋蟀”(crickets),现直译为autumn insects,取其广义。

②“鹁鸽”为“传书之鸽”,本应译为carrier pigeon或homing pigeon,现笼统译为pigeon即可。

③“一点影响也没有”意即“一点鸣声也没有”,故译none of it is heard,其中it指前面的insects once again chirping plaintively。

④“邪许”的读音为yéhǔ,乃拟声词,指劳动时众人一齐用力所发出的呼声,英语的对等词为yo-ho。

⑤“秋虫所不屑留的地方”译为Or rather a place where the insects themselves disdain to stay,其中Or rather是成语,作“更确切地说”解,为译文中的添加成分,使全句成为前面一句的补充。

⑥“踌躇满志”的意思是“心满意足”或“从容自得的样子”,现结合上下文按“娴熟自如”之意译为skilful。

⑦“众妙毕集”意即“一群灿烂的艺术家”或“群芳齐集”,故译a constellation of fine artists。

⑧“劳人”意即“劳苦的人”,译为toilers。

⑨“秋士”指“士之暮年不遇者”,结合上下文译为old forgotten scholars。

⑩“独客”指“孤独的旅人”,译为lonely travellers。

⑪“思妇”指“怀念丈夫远行的妇女”,译为solitary women即可。

⑫“……不在于某种味道,只要时时有点儿味道尝尝……”中的“味道”指“感触”,故译为feeling。

⑬“淡漠无味”意即“缺乏感触”或“麻木不仁”,故译为absence of any feeling。

⑭“这里只说有味总比淡漠远胜罢了”的意思是“我的意思是,敏感远比麻木可取”,故译为What I mean here is that susceptibility is always preferable to insensibility。

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