河之歌 The Song of the River

2021年1月24日
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河之歌 The Song of the River

You hear it all along the river. You hear it, loud and strong, from the rowers as they urge the junk with its high stern, the mast lashed alongside, down the swift running stream. You hear it from the trackers, a more breathless chant, as they pull desperately against the current, half a dozen of them perhaps if they are taking up sampan, a couple of hundred if they are hauling a splendid junk, its square sail set, over a rapid. On the junk, a man stands amid ships beating a drum incessantly to guide their efforts, and they pull with all their strength, like men possessed, bent double; and sometimes in the extremity of their travail they craw on the ground, on all fours, like the beasts of the field. They strain, strain fiercely, against the pitiless might of the stream. The leader goes up and down the line and when he sees one who is not putting all his will into the task he brings down his split bamboo on the naked back. Each one must do his utmost or the labour of all is vain. And still they sing a vehement, eager chant, the chant of the turbulent waters. I do not know words can describe what there is in it of effort. It serves to express the straining heart, the breaking muscles, and at the same time the indomitable spirit of man which overcomes the pitiless force of nature. Though the rope may part and the great junk swing back, in the end the rapid will be passed; and at the close of the weary day there is the hearty meal...

沿着整条河都可以听见歌声。它洪亮而有力,那是船夫,他们划着木船顺流而下,船尾翘得很高,船边系着桅杆。这也许是比较急促的号子。那些纤夫拉着纤逆流而上,如果拉的是小木船,也许就只要五六个人,如果拉的是要过急滩的扬着横帆的大船,就要两百多人。一个汉子站在船中央不停地击鼓助威,引导他们加劲。于是他们用尽全身的力量,像着了魔似的,腰弯成两折,有时力量要全部用完了就全身趴在地上匍匐前进,就像田里的牲口。他们用力,拼命用力,对抗着水流无情的威慑之力。领头的在纤绳前后不停地奔跑,见到有人没有用尽全力,就用竹板打他的光背。每个人都必须竭尽全力,否则就要前功尽弃。就这样他们还是唱着激昂热烈的号子,那汹涌澎湃的河水号子。我不知道用怎样的词语才能描写出这其中的拼搏,它除了体现紧绷的心弦,几乎要断裂的筋肉,同时也体现了人类以顽强的精神克服着无情的自然力。虽然绳子可能扯断,大船可能倒退,但险滩最终能通过,在结束筋疲力尽的一天之后,可以痛快地吃上一顿饱饭……

But the most agonizing song is the song of the coolies who bring the great bales from the junk up the steep steps to the town wall. Up and down they go, endlessly, and endless as their toil rises their rhythmic cry. He, aw —ah, oh. They are barefoot and naked to the waist. The sweat pours down their faces and their song is a groan of pain. It is a sigh of despair. It is heart-rending. It is hardly human. It is the cry of souls in infinite distress, only just musical, and that last note is the ultimate sob of humanity. Life is too hard, too cruel, and this is the final despairing protest. That is the song of the river.

然而最让人难受的却是苦力的歌,他们背着从船上卸下的大包,沿着陡坡爬上城墙。他们不停地来回上下,和着没有尽头的劳动响起有节奏的喊声:嗨,哟——嗨,哟。他们赤脚裸背,脸上的汗水不断地向下流。他们的歌是痛苦的呻吟,失望的叹息,让人听来心碎不已,简直不像是人的声音。这是在无尽的悲凉中的呼喊的灵魂,只不过配上了有节奏的音乐而已。那终曲简直就是人性泯灭的低泣。生活如此艰难、如此残酷,这喊声正是最后绝望的抗议。这就是河之歌。

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