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散文佳作108篇 第64期:A Visit with the Folks 探访故亲

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A Visit with the Folks

探访故亲
探访故亲

periodically i go back to a churchyard cemetery on the side of an Appalachian hill in northernVirginia to call on family elders. it slows the juices down something marvelous.

弗吉尼亚北部阿巴拉契亚山脉的一个小山坡上, 有一处教堂墓地。每隔一段日子,我都要回到那里探望先辈们。这种 探访有一种奇妙的力量,能让人的心境归于平静。

they are all situated right behind an imposing brick church with a tall square brick bell-towerbest described as honest but not flossy. some of the family elders did construction repair workon that church and some of them, the real old timer, may even have helped build it ,but icounldn't swear to that because it's been there a long, long time.

先辈们的墓地全都在一座庄严醒目的砖石教堂后面。高高耸立的方形钟楼也是砖石结构的,说它“朴实而不粗糙”在再合适不过了。家族先辈中有些参与过教堂的修缮工作,另一些人,那些真正的老祖宗们,或许还为教堂的建造出过力,但对此我可没有绝对把握,因为教堂建在那里毕竟已经很久很久了。

The view, especially in early summer, is so pleasing that it’s a pity they can’t enjoy it. Wildroses blooming on fieldstone fences, fields white with daisies, that soft languorous air turningthe mountains pastel blue out toward the West.

那儿的景色非常怡人,尤其是在初夏时节。石栅篱上的野蔷薇竞相开放,田野被雏菊染成一片白色,微醺的和风给群山抹上淡淡的蓝色,一直向西边延伸而去。先辈们无法欣赏这些美景,真是一桩憾事。

The tombstones are not much to look at. Tombstones never are in my book, but they do helpin keeping track of the family and, unlike a family, they have the virtue of never chafing at you.

那些墓碑倒是没什么看的。在我看来,墓碑从来就没有什么好看的。但它们确实有助于寻根问祖,而绝不会像现在的家人,总跟你唠叨个没完。

This is not to say they don’t talk after a fashion. Every time I pass Uncle Lewis’s I can hear itsay, “Come around to the barber shop, boy, and I’ll cut that hair.” Uncle Lewis was a barber. Heleft up here for a while and went to the city. Baltimore. But he came back after the end. Almostall of them came back finally, those that left, but most stayed right here all along.

但这儿并不是说他们总是“一声不吭”。每次走过刘易斯大叔的墓前,我都能听见这样的话:“回头到理发店来,孩子,我给你剪剪头。”刘易斯大叔是个理发的,有一段时间他曾离开家乡,到大都市巴尔的摩谋生,但最后还是回来了。几乎所有的人,我是说那些离开过的人们,最终都回来了,但大多数人——一辈子都呆在这里。

Well, not right here in the churchyard, but out there over the fields, two, three, four milesaway. Grandmother was born just over that rolling field out there near the woods the year theCivil War ended, lived most of her life about three miles out the other way there near themountain, and has been right here near this old shade tree for the past 50 years.

对了,“这里”当然不是指这片墓地,而是乡间那边,离墓地二三英里或三四英里的地方。内战结束那年,祖母就出生在树林子附近那片起伏不平的地头。她大半辈子都在离林子大约三英里的大山边生活,如今安躺在这棵绿荫如盖的老树下也有50年了。

We weren’t people who went very far. Uncle Harry, her second child, is right beside her. Acarpenter. He lived 87 years in these parts without ever complaining about not seeing Paris. Toget Uncle Harry to say anything, you have to ask for directions.

先辈们都不大出远门儿。就拿哈里大伯来说吧,他是祖母的二儿子,就葬在她的墓旁。他是个木匠,一辈子87年都在这一带度过,从未抱怨过自己没去过巴黎,见识见识外面的世界。要想让哈里大伯开口说点什么,你得向他问路才行。

“Which way is the schoolhouse?” I ask, though not aloud of course.

“去学堂走哪条路呀?”我问道,当然声音不大。

“Up the road that way a right good piece,” he replies, still the master of indefinite navigationwhom I remember from my boyhood.

“沿那条道一直走就行,还得走好一阵子呢。”他回答道。在我儿时的记忆中,他一直就是这个样子,总是那副好给别人之路却又指不清的含糊口气。

It’s good to call on Uncle Lewis, grandmother and Uncle Harry like this. It improves yourperspective to commune with people who are not alarmed about the condition of NATO orwhining about the flabbiness of the dollar.

像这样探访刘易斯大叔、祖母和哈里大伯,感觉真好。他们既不会因为北约现状而忧心忡忡,又不会因为美元疲软而牢骚满腹,同这样的人倾心交谈能使你更加明察事理。

The elders take the long view. Of course, you don’t want to indulge too extensively in thatlong a view, but it’s useful to absorb it in short doses. It corrects the blood pressure and putsthings in a more sensible light.

先辈们大都看得开,想得远。当然,你并不想沉迷于用太长远的目光去看问题,但偶尔合理地用上一次却大有裨益。这样可以使你心平气和,更加理智地看待各种事物。

After a healthy dose of it, you realize that having your shins kicked in the subway is not thegravest insult to dignity ever suffered by common humanity.

学会适当地把目光放开一点之后,你就会明白,在地铁里被人踹了一脚并不算是普通人所受的什么奇耻大辱。

Somewhere in the vicinity is my great-grandfather who used to live back there against themountain and make guns, but I could never find him. He was born out that way in 1817—JamesMonroe was President then—and I’d like to find him to commune a bit with somebody of bloodkin who was around when Andrew Jackson was in his heyday.

就在这附近哪个地方埋着我的一个曾祖父。生前他依山而居,还造过枪,但我一直没能找到他的墓。1817年他就出生在那里——当时的总统是詹姆斯·门罗——我极想找到他,好跟这位亲眼目睹了安德鲁·杰克逊鼎盛时期的亲人好好聊上几句。

After Jackson and Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, he would probably not be very impressedabout much that goes on nowadays, and I would like to get a few resonances off histombstone, a cool frisson of contempt maybe for a great-grandchild who had missed all thereally perilous times.

这位曾祖父生活在杰克逊、亚伯拉罕·林肯当政时期,又经历了内战,对时下发生的事儿可能不会有太大的感触。但我仍想从墓碑中听他讲上几句,哪怕他会对我这个没经历过真正危难时世的曾孙表示出冷漠和不屑,会令我不寒而栗。

Unfortunately, I am never able to find him, but there is Uncle Irvey, grandmother’s oldest boy.An unabashed Hoover Republican. “Eat all those string beans, boy,” I hear as I nod at histombstone.

遗憾的是,我始终没能找到他的墓,却碰到了祖母大儿子欧维大伯的墓。他是个铁杆胡佛派共和党人。“孩子,把那些菜豆全吃了。”我朝他的墓碑点头时,听见他这么说。

And here is a surprise: Uncle Edgar. He has been here for years, but I have never bumped intohim before. I don’t dare disturb him, for he is an important man, the manager of the baseballteam, and his two pitchers, my Uncle Harold and my Cousin-in-law Howard, have both beenshelled on the mound and Uncle Edgar has to decide whether to ask the shortstop if he knowsanything about pitching.

这可是个意外的发现:埃德加大叔的墓,他埋在这里已有好些年了。可今天还是我第一次看见他的墓。我没敢惊动他,因为他是个大人物,棒球队经纪人。记得有一次,他的两个投手——我的哈罗德大叔和霍华德表姐夫,在投球区被对方连连安打得分,他只得决定去找游击手,问他有没有信心上场充当投手去投球。

My great-grandfather who made guns is again not to be found, but on the way out I pass thetombstone of another great-grandfather whose distinction was that he left an estate of$3.87. It is the first time I have passed this way since I learned of this, and I smile his way, butsomething says, “In the long run, boy, we all end up as rich as Rockefeller,” and I get into thecar and drive out onto the main road, gliding through fields white with daisies, past fencesperfumed with roses, and am rather more content with the world.

造枪的曾祖父的墓还是没找到,但离开墓地的时候我却发现了另一个曾祖父的墓。他的与众不同之处就是只留下了3.87美元的遗产,这是我听说这桩事后第一次从这儿经过,我笑他的寒酸,却听见有个声音在说:“从长远看,孩子,到最后我们都会跟洛克菲勒一样有钱的。”于是我钻进汽车,穿过被雏菊染白的田野,经过蔷薇飘香的石栅篱,把车开到大路上。此刻,这对这个世界又多了几许满足。


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