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Visitors3

2006-07-29 00:32

  As for men, they will hardly fail one anywhere.  I had more visitors while I lived in the woods than at any other period in my life; I mean that I had some.  I met several there under more favorable circumstances than I could anywhere else.  But fewer came to see me on trivial business.  In this respect, my company was winnowed by my mere distance from town.  I had withdrawn so far within the great ocean of solitude, into which the rivers of society empty, that for the most part, so far as my needs were concerned,only the finest sediment was deposited around me.  Beside, there were wafted to me evidences of unexplored and uncultivated continents on the other side.

  Who should come to my lodge this morning but a true Homeric or Paphlagonian man —— he had so suitable and poetic a name that I am sorry I cannot print it here —— a Canadian, a woodchopper and post-maker, who can hole fifty posts in a day, who made his last supper on a woodchuck which his dog caught.  He, too, has heard of Homer, and, "if it were not for books," would "not know what to do rainy days," though perhaps he has not read one wholly through for many rainy seasons.  Some priest who could pronounce the Greek itself taught him to read his verse in the Testament in his native parish far away; and now I must translate to him, while he holds the book, Achilles' reproof to Patroclus for his sad countenance. ——

  "Why are you in tears, Patroclus, like a young girl?" "Or have you alone heard some news from Phthia?

  They say that Menoetius lives yet, son of Actor,And Peleus lives, son of AEacus, among the Myrmidons,Either of whom having died, we should greatly grieve."

  He says, "That's good."  He has a great bundle of white oak bark under his arm for a sick man, gathered this Sunday morning.  "I suppose there's no harm in going after such a thing to-day," says he.  To him Homer was a great writer, though what his writing was about he did not know.  A more simple and natural man it would be hard to find.  Vice and disease, which cast such a sombre moral hue over the world, seemed to have hardly any existance for him.  He was about twenty-eight years old, and had left Canada and his father's house a dozen years before to work in the States, and earn money to buy a farm with at last, perhaps in his native country.  He was cast in the coarsest mould; a stout but sluggish body, yet gracefully carried, with a thick sunburnt neck, dark bushy hair, and dull sleepy blue eyes, which were occasionally lit up with expression. He wore a flat gray cloth cap, a dingy wool-colored greatcoat, and cowhide boots.  He was a great consumer of meat, usually carrying his dinner to his work a couple of miles past my house —— for he chopped all summer —— in a tin pail; cold meats, often cold woodchucks, and coffee in a stone bottle which dangled by a string from his belt; and sometimes he offered me a drink.  He came along early, crossing my bean-field, though without anxiety or haste to get to his work, such as Yankees exhibit.  He wasn't a-going to hurt himself.  He didn't care if he only earned his board.  Frequently he would leave his dinner in the bushes, when his dog had caught a woodchuck by the way, and go back a mile and a half to dress it and leave it in the cellar of the house where he boarded, after deliberating first for half an hour whether he could not sink it in the pond safely till nightfall —— loving to dwell long upon these themes.  He would say, as he went by in the morning, "How thick the pigeons are!  If working every day were not my trade, I could get all the meat I should want by hunting-pigeons, woodchucks, rabbits,partridges —— by gosh!  I could get all I should want for a week in one day."

  至于人,哪里都少不了人的。林中的访客比我这一生中的任何时期都多;这是说,我有了一些客人。我在那里会见几个客人,比在别的场合中会见他们更好得多。可很少是为小事情而来找我的人。在这方面,由于我住在离城较远的乡下,仅仅我那一段距离便把他们甄别过了。我退入寂寞的大海有这样深;社会的河流虽然也汇流到这海洋中,就我的需要来说,聚集在我周围的大多是最优秀的沉积物。而且还有另一面的许多未发现、未开化的大陆,它们的证物也随波逐浪而来。

  今天早晨来我家的,岂非一位真正荷马式的或帕菲拉戈尼亚的人物吗,——他有个这样适合于他身份的诗意的名字,抱歉的是我不能在这里写下来,——他是一个加拿大人,一个伐木做柱子的人,一天可以在五十个柱子上凿洞,他刚好吃了一顿他的狗子捉到的一只土拨鼠。他也听到过荷马其人,说“要不是我有书本”,他就“不知道如何打发下雨天”,虽然好几个雨季以来,他也许没有读完过一本书。在他自己那个遥远的教区内,有一个能念希腊文的牧师,曾经教他读《圣经》里的诗;现在我必须给他翻译了,他手拿着那本书,翻到普特洛克勒斯满面愁容,因而阿基里斯责怪他的一段,“普特洛克勒斯,干吗哭得像个小女孩?”————-“是不是你从毕蒂亚那里得到什么秘密消息?

  阿克脱的儿子,伊苦斯的儿子,还是好好儿地活在玛密同;除非他俩死了,才应该悲伤。“

  他对我说,“这诗好。”他手臂下挟了一大捆白橡树皮,是这星期日的早晨,他收集来给一个生病人的。“我想今天做这样的事应该没有关系吧,”他说。他认为荷马是一个大作家,虽然他写的是些什么,他并不知道。再要找一个比他更单纯更自然的人恐怕不容易了。罪恶与疾病,使这个世界郁忧阴暗,在他却几乎不存在似的。他大约二十八岁,十二年前他离开加拿大和他父亲的家,来到合众国找工作,要挣点钱将来买点田产,大约在他的故乡买吧。他是从最粗糙的模型里做出来的,一个大而呆板的身体,态度却非常文雅,一个晒焦了的大脖子,一头浓密的黑头发,一双无神欲睡的蓝眼睛,有时却闪烁出表情,变得明亮。他身穿一件肮脏的羊毛色大衣,头戴一顶扁平的灰色帽子,足登一双牛皮靴。他常常用一个铅皮桶来装他的饭餐,走到离我的屋子几英里之外去工作,——他整个夏天都在伐木,——他吃肉的胃口很大;冷肉,常常是土拨鼠的冷肉;咖啡装在一只石瓶子中间,用一根绳子吊在他的皮带上,有时他还请我喝一口。他很早就来到,穿过我的豆田,但是并不急急乎去工作,像所有的那些北方佬一样。他不想伤自己的身体。如果收入只够吃住,他也不在乎。他时常把饭餐放在灌木丛中,因为半路上他的狗咬住土拨鼠了,他就口头又

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