英译中国现代散文选 | 何其芳 雨前


Praying for Rainfall

The last flock of pigeons have also gone out of sight after doing their final circling in the soft breeze, the sound of their whistles barely audible. They are hastening back to their warm wooden dovecote earlier than usual perhaps because they have mistaken the bleak leaden sky for nightfall or because of their presentiment of a storm.

The willow twigs, daubed with a light green by several days of sunshine, are now covered all over with dust and look so sickly that they need to be washed. And the parched soil and tree roots have likewise been dying for rainfall. Yet the rain is reluctant to come down.

I can never forget the thunderstorm we often had in my home town. Over there, whenever the rumble of thunder reverberated across the valley, the buds of spring would seem to sprout freely after being disturbed and roused up from their slumber in the frozen soil. Then tenderly stroked by the soft hands of fine rain, they would put forth bright green leaves and pink flowers. It makes me nostalgic and melancholy to think about old times and my mind is as depressed as the vast expanse of North China is thirsty. A tear stands in my dull eye and, like the rain lingering in the murky sky, is slow to roll down.

White ducks have also become somewhat impatient. Some are sending out irritated quacks from the turbid waters of an urban creek. Some keep swimming leisurely and tirelessly like a slow boat. Some have their long necks submerged headfirst in the water while sticking up their webbed feet behind their tails and splashing them desperately so as to keep their balance. There is no knowing if they are searching for tiny bits of food from the bottom of the creek or just enjoying the chill of the deep water.

Some of them stagger out of the water and, to relieve their fatigue, begin to saunter up and down with a gentleman-like swagger in the shade of the willow trees. Then, they stand about to preen their white plumage carefully. Occasionally they give themselves a sudden shake or flap their long wings to let off water drops from among their feathers. One of them, after grooming itself, turns round its neck to rest on the back, then buries its long red beak under its wings and quietly closes its small black eyes tucked away among the white fine hair. Apparently it is getting ready to sleep. Poor little creature, is that the way you sleep?

The scene recalls to my mind the duckling raiser in my home town. With a long bamboo pole in hand, he would look after a large flock of gosling-yellow ducklings moving about on the limpid water of a shallow brook flanked on both sides by green grass. How the little creatures jig-jigged merrily! How they obediently followed the bamboo pole to scamper over field after field, hillside after hillside! When night fell, the duckling raiser would make his home in a tent-like bamboo shed. Oh, that is something of the distant past! Now, in this dusty country of ours, what I yearn for is to hear the drip-drip of rain beating against leaves.

When I look up at a gray misty pall of a low-hanging sky, some dust particles feel chilly on my face. A hawk, seemingly irked by the gloomy sky, swoops down sideways out of nowhere, with wings wide-spread and immovable, until it almost hits the hillock on the other side of the brook. But it soars skywards again with a loud flap. I am amazed by the tremendous size of its wings. And I also catch sight of the grizzled feathers on its underside.

Then I hear its loud cry — like a powerful voice from the bottom of its heart or a call in the dark for its comrades in arms.

But still no rain.




①此文题目本可译为Before the Rain,现按久旱盼甘霖的主题把它译为Praying for Rainfall,其中Praying for的意思是“求”或“渴望”等。

②“带着低弱的笛声”译为the sound of their whistles barely audible,其中barely audible的字面意思是“勉强能听到”或“几乎听不到”,在此作“低弱的”解。此短语也可译为with the faint sound of their whistles。如译为the sound of their whistles trailing off也无不可,只是trailing off(逐渐减弱)与原意稍有差别。

③“几天的阳光在柳条上撒下的一抹嫩绿,被尘土埋掩得有些憔悴色了,是需要一次洗涤”译为The willow twigs, daubed with a light green by several days of sunshine, are now covered all over with dust and look so sickly that they need to be washed。也可按“经过几天的日晒,柳树上出现的嫩叶被尘土……”译为The light green willow leaves brought on by several days of sunshine now, covered all over with dust, look so sickly and hence need to be washed,其中to bring on是成语,作“使出现”或“使发展”解。

④“我心里的气候也和这北方大陆一样缺少雨量”不宜按字面直译。现按“我的心情抑郁,和北方大地干旱,达到同样的严重程度”译为my mind is as depressed as the vast expanse of North China is thirsty。

⑤“有几几个已上岸了”译为Some or them stagger out of the water,比Some of them come out of the water可取,因stagger能表达鸭子走动时摇摇晃晃的样子。

⑥“天空低垂如灰色的雾幕”译为a gray misty pall of a low-hanging sky,等于a low-hanging sky resembling a gray misty pall。可参考用同样结构表达的例子:a toy of a house = a toy-like house; a dwarf of a man = a dwarf-like man。

⑦“远来的”译为out of nowhere(不知从哪儿来),比from afar传神。

⑧“伴侣”在文中有“战友”的含义,故译comrades in arms,比companions或partners确切。