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W. S. Maugham-The Song of the River 汉译

2014-05-16    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

The Song of the River

W. S. Maugham

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 chant, 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 crawl 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 labour of all in vain. And still they sing a vehement, eager chant, the chant 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...

But the most agonising 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 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.

河之歌

沿河上下都可以听见那歌声。它响亮而有力,那是船夫,他们划着木船顺流而下,船尾翘得很高,桅杆系在船边。它也可能是比较急促的号子,那是纤夫,他们拉纤逆流而上,如果拉的是小木船,也许就只五六个人;如果拉的是扬着横帆的大船过急滩,那就要200来人。船中央站着一个汉子不停地击鼓助威,引导他们加劲。于是他们使出全部力量,像着了魔似的,腰弯成两折,有时力量用到极限就全身趴在地上匍匐前进,像田里的牲口。他们使劲,拼命使劲,对抗着水流无情的威力。领头的在纤绳前后跑来跑去,见到有人没有全力以赴,竹板就打在他光着的背上。每个人都必须竭尽全力,否则就要前功尽弃。就这样他们还是唱着激昂而热情的号子,那汹涌澎湃的河水号子。我不知道词语怎样能描写出其中所包含的拼搏,它表现的是绷紧的心弦,几乎要断裂的筋肉,同时也表现了人类克服无情的自然力的顽强精神。虽然绳子可能扯断,大船可能倒退,但最终险滩必将通过,在筋疲力尽的一天结束时可以痛快地吃上一顿饱饭……

然而最令人难受的却是苦力的歌,他们背负船上卸下的大包,沿着陡坡爬上城墙。他们不停地上上下下,随着无尽的劳动响起有节奏的喊声:嗨,哟—嗬,哟。他们赤着脚,光着背,汗水不断地从脸上流下。他们的歌是痛苦的呻吟,失望的叹息,听来令人心碎,简直不像是人的声音。它是灵魂在无尽悲戚中的呼喊,只不过有着音乐的节奏而已。那终了的一声简直就是人性泯灭的低泣。生活太艰难,太残酷,这喊声正是最后绝望的抗议。这就是河之歌。

(陈文伯 译注)



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