现代英文选评注 | Rosie 露西姑娘 William Van Buskirk

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本文选自《新声:美国新作选》(New Voices: American Writing Today,1953年出版。《新声》收美国新作家约六十人,大多皆无藉藉名,然就其一般成绩观之,实可代表美国文坛之新作风。此数十作家皆态度谨严,刻意求精,其忠于艺术,敢于尝试之精神,大致盖秉承Flaubert、Henry James、Conrad诸大师之遗教规范。书中所收各篇,皆正视人生,取材现实,故事自不落窠臼;慧心妙悟,无遮无隔,描写亦必多奇句。全书文字,大多可读,其运思之精,功力之深,比之世界名作,亦无愧色。虽曰后生可畏,实亦文章正宗也。《露西姑娘》一文,寥寥数段(此处未加节删),而意味深长,精心之作也。作者范·勃斯寇克(William Van Buskirk)生于美国纽约市,为会计师之子,第二次大战时,随美国空军第十三大队转战所罗门群岛、菲律宾一带,战后执业广告设计。写作虽非其专业,然其文字造诣之深,读本文便知。

I am remembering now my small Filipina, Rosie, in the far away, long ago islands of wartime. Perhaps it was only because she had few English words, and I had no Tagalog, that we spoke so little together. Certainly she chattered freely enough with her sisters. But because I could not understand their lilting, exotic jargon, the sound was more of music than of talk, their gentle voices rising and falling, tinkling yet sibilant, like the sound of distant bells borne on a rushing wind. The gossiping sisters were as restful and as little distracting as the playful splashings in a park.

  • Filipina:菲律宾人(阴性;阳性为Filipino)。far away, long ago:此四字当形容词来形容islands,用法颇特别。作者大致但求表达方式的简单经济,顾不得习惯的用法了。
  • Tagalog:菲律宾之一种方言。
  • chattered:喋喋而谈,但闻其声,不明其义。
  • lilting:轻快含糊而多起伏的。exotic:异国(情调)的。jargon:(令人难懂的)语言。
  • the sound was more of music than of talk:她们的声音与其说是像说话,不如说是像音乐。rising and falling:起伏。tinkling:轻脆叮当。sibilant:丝丝作响。两字形容,恐犹有未足,接着又用一譬喻:“如疾风飘来远处铃声”。铃声叮当,即为tinkling;疾风之声嘘嘘然,亦为一种hissing sound,正好衬托前面的sibilant。borne(bear之过去分词):(风把声音)带来。
  • 她们姊妹间的闲谈,并不(little有否定的意义)乱人心意(distracting),反而有使人安静的作用(restful),犹如公园里(喷水泉?)的水珠溅落之声(splashings)。playful原义“嬉戏的”,这里作“忽快忽慢,时东时西”解。

The last time I saw Rosie (we knew it was the last), she wore her pale Mestiza gown, with its sheer high-shouldered sleeves like wings of butterflies. Among the boles of a grove of palms—a tranquil, timeless colonnade in the moonlight—we built a diminutive fire. Then through long night hours we watched its embers blacken, die, and fall to ashes. My memory of those hours is sharply clear, and only a little sweetened by time, but I can remember no spoken words.

  • Mestiza为Mestizo(菲律宾人之杂有华人血统者)之女性形式。Mestiza gown当为菲律宾混血女儿所惯穿之女式长衣,是“土装”并非“美式”服装也。sheer:绝薄的(衣料)。sleeves:袖。high-shouldered:衣袖在肩部耸起的。
  • grove of palms:一片棕林。棕树干直无枝,叶生干端,人居林中,但见有干(boles),不见枝叶。群树矗立拱卫,犹如柱廊(colonnade)。tranquil:安静的。timeless:终古常存的。diminutive:很小的。fire:堆木柴而生之火。
  • embers:火烬。接着用三个不加to的不定式动词:blacken(由红变黑),die(火熄成炭),fall to ashes(炭碎为死灰)。
  • sweetened by time约相当于中文“愈陈愈香”之意。当时情境,犹历历如在目前,所不同者,唯因岁月推移,回忆益觉甜蜜耳。
  • I can remember no spoken words:两人言语本不通,今别离在即,相对黯然,更没有话可说。自然也记不起说过什么话了。

I remember well the yellow and mellow Manila cigar that I gently puffed and rolled between my fingers. I recall how I stretched on the dark, springy earth as the night's gauzy warmth caressed me. I can see the ivory of Rosie's cheek and Rosie's arms that glowed here and there orange-red in the firelight. Her eyes were black and sad like a spaniel's eyes. Her soft lips smiled and smiled.

  • mellow:烟味醇和的。puffed:以口喷烟。rolled:搓卷。
  • stretched:伸臂舒腿地躺下。springy:有弹性如弹簧的。gauzy:轻薄如纱的。夜间暖气,轻如薄纱,来抚我身。ivory:象牙。彼女脸颊双臂之色本如象牙,今火光照处,其肌肤乃发桔色红光。here and there:东一处西一处的。火焰跳跃无定,火光有及有不及,明暗亦不一致。orange-red乃形容词,用作subjective complement。
  • spaniel:西班牙狗,其眼乌黑而有忧郁之表情。
  • Her soft lips smiled and smiled:连用两smiled,而妙在仍不说话。

She sang me a song whose words I did not understand, and she danced a little round the fire, a lonely slow Lindy with empty arms, hopping barefoot and awkward in the dust.

  • whose words=the words of which。song:为无生命之物,照有些语法书规定,这里应该用of which,但有时为求句法紧凑起见,常有用whose来代替of which的。
  • Lindy:即Lindy Loo,是一种黑人舞蹈。hopping:跳跃,为现在分词,形容主语she。barefoot(赤脚的)可作形容词或副词,但awkward(拙劣的)只可作形容词,如为形容词,当系形容主语she。露西姑娘的舞姿并不美妙,作者照实写来,似亦无伤其人之可爱。一个菲律宾姑娘,连英文都不会说的,想必非摩登人物,作者描写,亦在其朴质处着眼。她的歌喉似乎也没有什么了不起。初学作文者描写美人,往往美得“过火”,结果赞叹多而描写少,读此当可悟作文之道。

Then she came to my side and was quiet. She faintly smelled of unscented soap, and her hair was full of wood-smoke. So quaint and small was this odd brown girl, my throat congealed, and had there been anything to say, I could not have said it. But there was nothing to say, and in this deepening night we were happy and sad together.

  • smelled of=had the smell of。unscented soap:未加香料之素净肥皂。美人身上,何必一定要发什么“兰麝之香”?这里据实写来,不加夸张,而彼女之朴素洁净,不言自明。wood-smoke:木柴烟味,想是生火时所沾上。
  • quaint:别致,别具风味。congealed原意“冻结”转作“僵化”。这位古怪的棕肤女郎,如此别有风味,又如此娇小玲珑,以致我的喉咙僵住,说不出话来了。她的娇小,她的风味,和他的说不出话有何相干?还不是因为别离在即,愈觉其美,便愈不忍离之耶?
  • had there been…为一conditional clause,义同if there had been…。本来就无话可说,要是有话可说,此情此境,我也说不出口来。
  • deepening night:夜色渐深。用一现在分词deepening,表示时间进行,便觉长夜漫漫,缠绵无穷。第二段已说:Then through long night hours we watched its embers blacken, die, and fall to ashes。看烟消火灭,相对无语,竟夕相共,黯然神伤,尽在不言中矣。

(本文摘自《现代英文选评注》:京东正版购买链接

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