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生活的一课

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小编摘要:她像英国小说里的女子——她们在荒野上散步,她们忠实的小狗跟在身后奔跑,并恭敬地与主人保持着一定的距离。她像坐在炉火熊熊的壁炉前的女人,从放满司康饼和松脆饼的银托盘里不停地端茶来喝。

A Lesson in Living
 

 For nearly a year, I sopped around the house, the store, the school and the church. Then, I met, or rather—got to know, the lady who threw me my first lifeline.

  差不多有一年,我都泡在家、店铺、学校和教堂里。然后我遇到了,或者更确切地说,认识了扔给我第一根救生索的那位夫人。

  Mrs. Bertha Flowers was the aristocrat of Black Stamps. She had the grace of control to appear warm in the coldest weather, and on the Arkansas summer day it seemed as if she had her own private breeze, swirling around her, cooling her. Her skin was a rich black, creating the impression that it would peel off like a plum if snagged.

  贝莎·弗劳尔斯太太是斯坦普斯黑人居住区里的佼佼者。她举止优雅,在最冷的天气里也给人一种温暖的感觉;而在阿肯色州的夏日,她的举止让人觉得仿佛有阵阵微风围绕着她,使她凉爽。她的皮肤黝黑发亮,让人觉得,要是她的皮肤被什么东西刮破了,就会像李子皮一样剥落下来。

  She was one of the few gentlewomen I have ever known, and has remained throughout my life the measure of what a human being can be. She appealed to me because she was like people I had never met personally. Like the women in English novels who walked the moor with their loyal dogs racing at a respectful distance; like the women who sat in front of roaring fireplace incessantly drinking tea from silver trays full of scones and crumpets. It would be safe to say that, just by being herself, she made me feel proud to be Negro.

  她是我认识的少数几位有教养的妇女之一。在我的一生中,她一直是我衡量一个人的标准。她对我很有吸引力,因为她像是我从来没有亲自遇到过的人。她像英国小说里的女子——她们在荒野上散步,她们忠实的小狗跟在身后奔跑,并恭敬地与主人保持着一定的距离。她像坐在炉火熊熊的壁炉前的女人,从放满司康饼和松脆饼的银托盘里不停地端茶来喝。可以很肯定地说,正是她本色的举止使我为自己是个黑人而骄傲。

  One summer afternoon, she stopped at the store to buy provisions. Any other Negro woman of her health and age would have been expected to carry the paper sacks home in one hand, but Momma said, “Sister Flower I’ll send Bailey up to your house with these things.”

  一个夏日的午后,她到我们店里来买食品。换作是其他身体状况和年龄与她一样的黑人妇女,一般都要她们自己提着纸袋回家。可是妈妈对她说:“弗劳尔斯大姐,我让贝利把这些东西送到你家里去吧。”

  “Thank you, Mrs. Henderson. I’d prefer Marguerite, though.” My name sounded so beautiful when she said it. “I’ve been meaning to talk to her, anyway.” They gave each other age group looks.

  “谢谢你,亨德森太太,不过我想让玛格丽特送去。”她把我的名字念得很好听。“反正我一直想和她聊聊。”她们互相交换了一下只有她们那个年龄的人才懂的眼色。

  There was a little path beside the rocky road, and Mrs. Flowers walked ahead of me, swinging her arms and picking her way over the stones.

  石头路旁有一条小路,弗劳尔斯太太摆动着手臂走在前面,小心地躲过石头。

  Without turning her head, she spoke to me, “I hear you’re working very well in school, Marguerite, but only in written assignments. The teachers report that they have trouble getting you to talk in class.” We passed the triangular farm on our left and the path widened to allow us to walk together.

  她没有回头,只对我说道:“玛格丽特,我听说你在学校功课很好,可是那只是笔头作业。老师说他们很难让你在课堂上发言。”我们走过了左手边那个三角形的农场,小路宽了起来,开始容得下我们并排走。  

  “Come and walk along with me, Marguerite.” I couldn’t have refused even if I wanted to. She pronounced my name so nicely.

  “过来和我并排走,玛格丽特。”即使我想拒绝也不可能,她把我的名字念得那么好听。

  “Now, no one is going to make you talk—possibly no one can. But bear in mind, language is mankind’s way of communicating with our fellow men, and it is language alone, which separates us from the lower animals.” That was a totally new idea to me, and I would need time to think about it.

  “现在,没有人要强迫你说话——可能也没有人做得到。可是你得记住,语言是人与人进行交流的方式,而且唯有语言,把人和低等动物区分开来。”这对我来说是个全新的概念,我需要时间来思考一下。

  “Your grandmother says you read a lot—every chance you get. That’s good, but not good enough. Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

  “你奶奶说你看了很多书。一有机会就看,这很好,但还不够。文字的意义不仅是写在纸上的那些,还需要人的声音赋予它们更深层意义的细微差别。”

  I memorized the part about the human voice infusing words. It seemed so valid and poetic.

  我记住了有关人的声音赋予文字更深层意义的细微差别的那句话。我觉得它是那么正确,那么富有诗意。

  She said she was going to give me some book and that I must not only read them, but I must read them aloud. She suggested that I should make a sentence sound in as many different ways as possible.

  她说她要借给我一些书,我不仅要阅读它们,还必须大声朗读。她建议我尽可能地用多种不同的方式来朗读同一句话。

  “I’ll accept no excuse if you return a book to me that has been badly handled.” My imagination boggled at the punishment I would deserve if in fact I did abuse a book of Mrs. Flower’s.

  “如果你草草读完一本书就还给我的话,我是不会原谅你的。”我很难想象如果我真的没有认真读弗劳尔斯太太的书,我该受到什么样的惩罚。

  The odors of her house surprised me, as the sweet scent of vanilla met us when she opened the door.

  当她打开门时,一阵香草的芳香扑面而来,她家里的这种气味使我感到很惊讶。

  “You see, I had planned to invite you for cookies and lemonade, so we could have this little chat. Have a seat, Marguerite.” She carried a platter covered with a tea towel.

  “你看,我已安排好了请你来吃点心,喝柠檬水,这样我们俩可以聊聊。坐吧,玛格丽特。”她端来一个大浅盘,上面盖着茶盘盖布。

  As I ate, she began the first of what we later called “my lessons in living.” She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance, but understanding of illiteracy; that some people, though unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than some college professors. She encouraged me to listen carefully to what country people called “Mother Wit”, because in those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations.

  我吃点心的时候,她开始讲授我们后来称之为“我生活的一课”的第一部分。她对我说永远不要容忍无知,但应理解文盲。有些人没机会上学,却比一些大学教授更有学识,甚至比他们更聪明。她鼓励我要仔细倾听乡下人称为“天生智慧”的话语,她说那些朴实的话语表达了世代相传的集体智慧。

  When I finished the cookie she brushed off the table and brought a thick, small book from the bookcase—A Tale of Two Cities. She opened the first page and, for the first time in my life, I heard poetry.

  我吃完点心后,她把桌子擦干净。从书柜里拿出来一本厚厚的小书,是《双城记》。她打开书的第一页,于是我平生第一次听到了诗的韵律。

  “It was the best of times and the worst of times…” Her voice slid in and curved down, through and over the words. She was nearly singing. Then her sounds began cascading gently. I knew that she was nearing the end of her reading.

  “这是最好的时代,也是最糟的时代……”她的声音滑行着,随着词句抑扬顿挫。她几乎是在吟唱。接着,她的声音开始逐渐降低。我知道她快要读完了。

  “How do you like that?”

  “你喜欢吗?”

  It occurred to me that she expected a response. The sweet vanilla flavor was still on my tongue, the sound of her reading voice was magic to my ears. But now I had to say something.

  我这才想到她希望我能有所反应。我的舌头上还留有香草的甜味,耳中回响着她朗诵时具有魔力的声音。但此刻,我不能不说点什么。

  I said, “Ye ma’am.” It was the least I could do.

  我说:“喜欢,夫人。”我最起码可以这样回答。

  “There’s one more thing. Take this book of poems and memorize one for me. Next time you pay me a visit, I would like you to recite it to me.”

  “还有一件事。你把这本诗集拿去,要背下来一首,下次你来我这儿的时候,我想要你背给我听。”

  I have often tried to search behind the sophistication of years for the enchantment I so easily found in those gifts. The essence may escape but its aura remains. To be allowed (No—invited!) into the private lives of strangers to share their joys and fear was a chance to exchange the southern bitter wormwood for a cup of mead with Beowulf, or a hot cup of tea and milk with Oliver Twist. When I said aloud, “It is a far, far better thing, than anything I have ever done…” tears of love filled my eyes at my selflessness.

  在经历了那些复杂的成年生活后,我常常试图寻找那种陶醉感——当年我很容易地就从那些礼物中体会到一种陶醉感。陶醉感本身也许已从记忆中消失了,但那种气氛依然存在。得到允许——不,是得到邀请——进入陌生人的私人生活,去分享他们的欢乐与忧虑,这意味着得到机会用南方很苦的苦艾去换得和贝奥武甫共饮蜂蜜酒或者和奥利弗·特威斯特一起喝上一杯加奶的热茶。当我大声说“我现在做的,是比我做过的一切要好很多、很多的事情……”时,我眼里充满爱的泪水,心中涌起忘我的感觉。

  I was liked, and what a difference it made. I was respected—not as Mrs. Henderson’s grandchild, or Bailey’s sister, but for just being Marguerite Johnson.

  有人喜欢我,这是多么重要啊!我受到尊重,不是作为亨德森太太的孙女或贝利的姐姐,而仅仅因为我是玛格丽特·约翰逊。

  The logic of childhood never asks to be proved—all conclusions are absolute. I didn’t ask why Mrs. Flowers had singled me out for attention; nor did it occur to me that Momma might have asked her to give me a little talking to. All I cared about was that she had made tea cookies for me, and read to me from her favorite book. It was enough to prove that she liked me…

  童年时的逻辑永远不求得到证实——一切结论再明显不过了。我并没有询问弗劳尔斯太太为什么单单选中了我来关心,也没有想到妈妈也许曾请她开导我一下。我所关心的只是她为我做了茶点,给我朗诵她最喜爱的书中段落。这就足以证明她喜欢我……

标签:美文欣赏
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2012-02-09 20:16 编辑:pliny
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