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Frank Trippett-A Season for Hymning and Hawing 汉译

2014-05-23    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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A Season for Hymning and Hawing

Frank Trippett

Technically, it begins next week. Actually, it began with the epic sigh of relief that could be sensed all over the U.S. right after Labor Day. Even before it arrives, Americans always manage to get into autumn. And no wonder. It is easily the most habitable season of the year.

Indeed, autumn deserves a hymn—and it has received far less tribute than it deserves. True, some mixed notices have come in over the centuries. Horace slandered autumn as a “dread” period—“harvest-season of the Goddess of Death.” He was dead wrong, of course, for as Ovid noted, once he got his mind off sex, autumn is “cum formossisimus annus”—”the fairest season of the year.” Had he lived a little later, Horace might have found out from the U.S. Census Bureau that the death rate is usually lower in autumn than in winter and spring. Why? Science doesn’t know, but it is quite possible that the will to live is stronger in the fall. Conversely, the will to mayhem weakens: nobody has ever worried about a Long Hot Autumn.

So autumn is a blatantly vital season, contrary to the allegations of sorrowful poets who misconstrue the message of dying leaves. A more realistic poet, Archibald MacLeish, says that “Autumn is the American season. In Europe the leaves turn yellow or brown and fall. Here they take fire on the trees and hang there flaming. Life, too, we think, is capable of taking fire in this country; of creating beauty never seen.”

Autumn is also the authentic season of renewal. Yale Lecturer William Zinsser hit the nail squarely: “The whole notion of New Year’s Day as the time of fresh starts and bold resolutions is false.” In truth that time is autumn. Popular pleasure shows itself in those hastening steps and brightened smiles encountered as the air grows nippier. Some psychiatrists have patients who grow almost alarmed at how congenial they suddenly feel. Autumn is a friendlier time.

The rejuvenating ambience of autumn is immeasurably more ancient than even the calendar. The Creation itself was achieved in the autumn, according to a tradition of Judaism—whence the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at summer’s end or the start of fall. The suspicion that even God is partial to autumn has overwhelmed others, including John Donne, who enthused: “In Heaven, it is always Autumn.”

No, autumn is not always heaven on earth. The season does induce a quickening of the blood and a heightening of human kind’s sensual pleasures. Yet the very jubilant excesses that ensue often lead, at last, to the well-known post-Thanksgiving “holiday blues.” In darker ways still, fate and tragedy have made some American Novembers seem more cruel than April.

Autumn is honest; it does not pretend to be heaven. Yet almost everybody recognizes that the season’s character transcends those familiar bracing days, crystal nights, bigger stars, vaulted skies, fluted twilights, harvest moons, frosted pumpkins and that riotous foliage that impels whole traffic jams of leaf freaks up into New England (even though Columnist Russell Baker has reminded them that “if you’ve seen 1 billion leaves, you’ve seen them all”). What is not widely recognized is that autumn is richly enhanced simply by what it is not. Specifically, it is not summer, winter or spring.
Take winter. It is basically uninhabitable. Whenever it shows its true nature, real life bogs to a standstill. Almost no one sincerely likes winter except the oil cartel and the cough-syrup magnates. True, everybody pretends that real life actually goes on. This very effort has inspired some of mankind’s most desperate inventions—curling and skiing, to name two. To help foster the illusion of life happening, the Constitution requires Congress to convene each January—and the illusion is sometimes convincing even if the Capitol is often the scene of more commotion than movement. Winter is, in a word, unacceptable.

Then there is spring, the season for simpering adolescents, May flies and impressionable poetasters. Listen to a typical springophile, Poet George Herbert: “Sweet Spring, full of sweet days and roses, / A box where sweets compacted lie; / My music shows ...” Hold! Enough! His muse-ack provides sufficient cause to reflect—coolly—on the hard fact that spring was the time when our ancestral tribes built festivals around the rites of blood sacrifice. Moreover, did not Eve accomplish the Fall of Man in the eternal spring of Eden? In cool weather, serpents do not tempt; they grow diffident, recede and hibernate.

Summer? If any abomination so current needs to be reprised, think of it. Drought. Crowded beaches. Sunburn. Poison ivy. McDonald’s. Summer is sand between the toes, fleafestations on the cats, movies like New York, New York. Every so-called joy of summer—whether getting wet, beering up or fleeing to the mountains—consists, in its essence, of escaping the suffocating reality of the season. August is so horrible that even dedicated psychiatrists abandon posts and patients for the entire month. Mosquitoes love summer. They hate autumn.

In short, winter is a tomb, spring is a lie, and summer is a pernicious mirage. Thus, if only by some crude law of relativity, autumn is the preferred stock of seasons. Autumn is the truth. It had to be autumn (unless the fabled apple fell unseasonably) that inspired Newton to discover the law of gravity. More books and most of the best come forth in the autumn. In theatrical circles, autumn is spoken of as the season. Autumn is for stamping on ripe grapes. Even now the vintners are prowling the prodigal vines.

No hymning—or hawing—in behalf of autumn should neglect to note that the coming season is a self-contained climactic cycle. It offers every weather—at its end, days icy enough for any sane person, and along the way, those indefinite Indian summers that put the real ones to shame. Fittingly enough, autumn delivers us to Christmas.

Admittedly, the season has imperfections. Yet even some of these—such as pro football and TV premieres—have become popular. On the other hand, autumn’s few blemishes tend to be offset, for civilized folk, by that man-made miracle, the World Series. Maybe the saddest defect of autumn in America is the fact the country is so large that some regions do not get to experience it—Southern California, for one. Inhabitants of such deprived places should be encouraged to make-believe. That sort of thing comes easy to any folk not brought firmly back to earth once a year by a fall.




秋天的确值得赞颂。但它所得到的赞颂与它应该得到的却相差甚远。多少个世纪以来,人们对秋天就褒贬不一。贺拉斯诽谤秋天,说它是“可怕的”时期,是“死亡女神丰收的季节”。当然他是大错特错了。正如奥维德所说的,一旦摒弃了性的念头,秋天便是“cum formossisimus annus”——“一年中最美丽的季节”。要是贺拉斯晚出生那么几年,他可以从美国人口普查局发现,秋天的人口死亡率一般低于冬、春两季。为什么呢?科学难以回答这个问题。不过很可能是因为秋天里人们生存的愿望更强。而相反,戕害的愿望更弱:谁也不会担心有一个漫长而炎热的秋天。












(陈春发 译)

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