现代英文选评注 | The Duck 鸭 B. Priestley

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本文作者普里斯特莱(B. Priestley,1894—1984)生于英国约克郡之Bradford,第一次大战时从军,曾作战受伤,欧战结束后就读剑桥大学。从军时即常有作品发表,在剑桥时写作更勤,毕业以后即以写作为生。作品极多,最著名者为长篇小说The Good Companions(1929),Angel Pavement(1930)。Festival?at Farbridge(1951)亦颇获赞誉。

普里斯特莱文章明快健朗,小说中充满人情温暖与生命活力,实为继承英国Fielding,Dickens等“阳刚”作风的一大作家。本文选自《普里斯特莱自选集》(The Priestley Companion,1951年英国企鹅丛书版),原为作者于第二次大战时的一篇广播文稿。全文极短(此处全引原文,未加节删),然颇含深意;普氏于第二次大战时,曾应英国广播公司之邀,担任长期广播,所谈虽大多身边琐事,然因其取材精当,含意深远,据说对于鼓励英人抗敌士气,贡献颇大。本文尤宜朗诵。

It was rather late the other night, and we were coming home to Highgate Village by way of High Street, Hampstead, and the Spaniards Road, which run, you might say, on the roof of London. We had to pass the Whitestone Pond. Now I like the Whitestone Pond. On fine afternoons, boys sail their toy boats on it, and when there's a wind blowing across the Heath the toy boats have to battle with enormous waves—about three inches high. At night, this pond is like a little hand-mirror that the vast, sprawling, yawning London still holds negligently; and you see the stars glimmering in it. Well, the other night was one of those mysterious nights we've had lately when there seems to be a pale light coming from nowhere, and the sky has a pure washed look. The dim lights of a few cars could be seen in the dusk round the pond, and some people, late as it was, were standing and staring.

  • the other day:最近某一天。the other night:最近某天的晚上。日落以后,即可算是night;那天是黄昏以后,时候已经很晚(rather late)。
  • we没有指明是什么人,应该是作者自己和另外一些人。Highgate Village:伦敦附近的一个村子。Hampstead:伦敦西北郊区的一个镇,属伦敦市。High Street即大街之意。英国小市镇主要的街道都以此名,美国普通称为Main Street,此处是Hampstead镇的大街。the Spaniards Road:公路之名。我们是走(by way of)某某街和某某路回家的。伦敦西北区地势较高,那条街和公路好像是(you might say)在伦敦屋顶上走过。(注意:run是复数形式,表示which代表street和road两样东西。)
  • pond:水池。toy boats:玩具小船。Heath:荒原;伦敦西北的荒原即名Hampstead Heath。enormous:巨大的;池狭船小,浪高三英寸已经可以算是巨大的了。
  • hand-mirror:有柄可握的小镜子。把水池比作镜子,诗文中已屡见不鲜,本文作者的幻想,更进一步,把伦敦比作一个庞然(vast)巨人,伸臂舒腿地躺在那里(sprawling),打着呵欠(yawning:“夜伦敦”是不是该打呵欠呢?),疏疏懒懒地(negligently),手里还握着这面镜子:镜子里面隐约可见点点繁星。glimmering:发朦胧微光。
  • Well为转换语气之词,正式文章中避用,本文原系供广播之用,当可尽量模仿家常闲谈口吻。第三句的Now意义相仿。
  • 平常日子池畔景色,已经约略描写,接着就描写那天晚上:那是我们最近(lately)所常有的一个神秘的晚上,四周似乎有一层不知是哪里来的淡淡的光辉,天空是洁净得好像有一种洗涤过了的神气。“长空如洗”这样的说法在中文里已经用得滥俗了,放在英文里还是很新鲜的。
  • dim:昏暗的。lights:车头灯。(池边有公路通过,通行汽车。)dusk:黄昏时之薄暗。late as it was:天虽然很晚了,还有人站在池边凝目而视。

We stopped, and heard a solicitous quacking and a great deal of faint squeaking. Then we saw on the pond, like a tiny feathered flotilla, a duck accompanied by her minute ducklings, just squeaking specks of yellow fluff. We joined the fascinated spectators; we forgot the war, the imminence of invasion, the doubts about the French Fleet, the melancholy antics of the Bordeaux Government.

  • solicitous:表示关切的(父母对于子女的关切)。quacking:鸭鸣声。squeaking:啾啾声。faint:微弱的。
  • flotilla:小型船只之队伍。tiny:极小的。母鸭与小小雏鸭,列阵浮于水面,犹如小小船队,唯船身均披有羽毛(feathered)耳。minute义同tiny,唯tiny较通俗,近于白话;minute较正式,近于文言。
  • ducklings后有一同位语说明之:雏鸭形体尚未长成,从岸上望去,只是啾啾会叫的点点粒粒(specks)黄色绒毛(fluff)而已。
  • fascinated spectators:入了迷的看客;看得出神的人。
  • the war:时为1940年6月,法国西线崩溃,法国政府迁至西南部的波尔多(Bordeaux)后再迁至维希(Vichy),希特勒陈兵英伦海峡,侵英(invasion)之举,迫在眉睫(imminence),法国舰队(the French Fleet)谁属,与战局影响极大,英人疑虑(doubts)自深;而波尔多政府倡议求和,行动颇多乖谬,殊为昔日盟友所心痛,故作者称之为“令人伤心的反常行为”(melancholy antics)。时局严重若此,而作者看见池中群鸭之后,竟然将国家大事浑然忘却。

Our eyes and ears, and our imagination were caught and held by those triumphant little parcels of life. This duck hadn't hatched her brood here; she'd hatched them in some hidden corner—nobody knows where—and had then conveyed them—and nobody knows how—to swim happily in the dusk on the summit of the city. She hadn't asked anybody's advice or permission; she hadn't told herself it was too late or too difficult; nobody had told her to "go to it" and that "it all depended on her." She had gone to it, a triumphant little servant of that life, mysterious, fruitful, beautiful, which expresses itself as a man writes a poem—now in vast galaxies of flaming suns, now in a tiny brood of ducklings squeaking in the dusk.

  • imagination:想象力,比耳目更进一步,不限于当前的所见所闻。caught:一把抓住。held:抓住不放。那时我们的全副注意力都为群鸭所摄,非但目不转瞬,耳不他闻,而且心中杂念顿息,如有所思,亦无非受此“奇观”之启发而已。
  • parcel此处不解作“包裹”,而解作“部分”(此字与part同源)。life:宇宙全体之生命。任何生物都只是“一条生命”,只可以算是“大生命”里的一部分。鸭子虽小,亦足表示天地间的生机流行,我们看见了群鸭嬉水得意(triumphant)之状,似乎看见了宇宙生物的神秘,无怪看得目定神往,把国事都忘了。(其实作者所忘的只是暂时战局的进退,他对于宇宙人生的信念,由于那天晚上的经验当更形增强。这样一个人将成为一个更坚定、更有决心的斗士。)hatched:孵化(用过去完成式,表示时间在前)。brood:一次所孵出之雏鸭(或其他鸟类)。conveyed:搬运。母鸭在哪里孵的蛋,没有人知道;孵出以后,如何把小鸭带到这里来游水,也没人知道。summit:最高点;那地方居于伦敦最高处。advice:劝告。permission:准许。她把小鸭带到这里来,既未向人求教,亦未得人准许,只是凭了生物的本能,把小鸭孵了出来,再带它们来教它们游水(池边可能并无养鸭人家,此鸭恐是野鸭)。
  • it was too late之it恐是代表孵小鸭等等的事情。母鸭决不自馁,不怕时间太晚,或者是困难太多,她要做的事情还是要做好。
  • 她并不自馁,可是也没有人给她鼓励怂恿,没有人对她说:“你去做吧”(go to it)或是“事情全靠着你呢”。
  • 她所以这样做,因为她是受宇宙间生命力的支配;她是那个大生命(that life)属下的一个兴高采烈的小仆人。triumphant表示任务完成以后的得意。
  • that life后跟着三个形容词:神秘、美丽、孕育丰富(fruitful)。那个大生命随时表现自己,就同诗人之写诗以表现自己一样,表现的方式大小不一,有时如星河(galaxies)横空,一颗星就是一颗太阳似的火球(flaming:火焰炽盛的);有时则如今夕所见的池中啾啾雏鸭也。

(本文摘自《现代英文选评注》:京东正版购买链接

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