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Sounds3

2006-07-29 00:17

  The whistle of the locomotive penetrates my woods summer and winter, sounding like the scream of a hawk sailing over some farmer's yard, informing me that many restless city merchants are arriving within the circle of the town, or adventurous country traders from the other side.  As they come under one horizon, they shout their warning to get off the track to the other, heard sometimes through the circles of two towns.  Here come your groceries, country; your rations, countrymen!  Nor is there any man so independent on his farm that he can say them nay.  And here's your pay for them! screams the countryman's whistle; timber like long battering-rams going twenty miles an hour against the city's walls, and chairs enough to seat all the weary and heavy-laden that dwell within them.  With such huge and lumbering civility the country hands a chair to the city.  All the Indian huckleberry hills are stripped, all the cranberry meadows are raked into the city.  Up comes the cotton, down goes the woven cloth; up comes the silk, down goes the woollen; up come the books, but down goes the wit that writes them.

  When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion —— or, rather, like a comet, for the beholder knows not if with that velocity and with that direction it will ever revisit this system, since its orbit does not look like a returning curve —— with its steam cloud like a banner streaming behind in golden and silver wreaths, like many a downy cloud which I have seen, high in the heavens, unfolding its masses to the light —— as if this traveling demigod, this cloud-compeller, would ere long take the sunset sky for the livery of his train; when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils(what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don't know), it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it.  If all were as it seems, and men made the elements their servants for noble ends!  If the cloud that hangs over the engine were the perspiration of heroic deeds, or as beneficent as that which floats over the farmer's fields, then the elements and Nature herself would cheerfully accompany men on their errands and be their escort.

  I watch the passage of the morning cars with the same feeling that I do the rising of the sun, which is hardly more regular. Their train of clouds stretching far behind and rising higher and higher, going to heaven while the cars are going to Boston, conceals the sun for a minute and casts my distant field into the shade, a celestial train beside which the petty train of cars which hugs the earth is but the barb of the spear.  The stabler of the iron horse was up early this winter morning by the light of the stars amid the mountains, to fodder and harness his steed.  Fire, too, was awakened thus early to put the vital heat in him and get him off.  If the enterprise were as innocent as it is early!  If the snow lies deep,they strap on his snowshoes, and, with the giant plow, plow a furrow from the mountains to the seaboard, in which the cars, like a following drill-barrow, sprinkle all the restless men and floating merchandise in the country for seed.  All day the fire-steed flies over the country, stopping only that his master may rest, and I am awakened by his tramp and defiant snort at midnight, when in some remote glen in the woods he fronts the elements incased in ice and snow; and he will reach his stall only with the morning star, to start once more on his travels without rest or slumber.  Or perchance, at evening, I hear him in his stable blowing off the superfluous energy of the day, that he may calm his nerves and cool his liver and brain for a few hours of iron slumber.  If the enterprise were as heroic and commanding as it is protracted and unwearied!

  夏天和冬天,火车头的汽笛穿透了我的林子,好像农家的院子上面飞过的一头老鹰的尖叫声,通知我有许多焦躁不安的城市商人已经到了这个市镇的圈子里,或者是从另一个方向来到一些村中行商。它们是在同一个地平线上的,它们彼此发出警告,要别个在轨道上让开,呼唤之声有时候两个村镇都能听到。乡村啊,这里送来了你的杂货了;乡下人啊,你们的食粮!没有任何人能够独立地生活,敢于对它们道半个“不”字。于是乡下人的汽笛长啸了,这里是你们给它们的代价!像长长的攻城槌般的木料以一小时二十英里的速度,冲向我们的城墙,还有许多的椅子,城圈以内所有负担沉重的人现在有得坐了。乡村用这样巨大的木材的礼貌给城市送去了坐椅。所有印第安山间的越橘全部给采下来,所有的雪球浆果也都装进城来了。棉花上来了,纺织品下去了:丝上来了,羊毛下去了,书本上来了,可是著作书本的智力降低了。

  当我遇见那火车头,带了它的一列车厢,像行星运转似的移动前进,——或者说,像一颗扫帚星,因为既然那轨道不像一个会转回来的曲线,看到它的人也就不知道在这样的速度下,向这个方向驰去的火车,会不会再回到这轨道上来,——水蒸汽像一面旗帜,形成金银色的烟圈飘浮在后面,好像我看到过的高高在天空中的一团团绒毛般的白云,一大块一大块地展开,并放下豪光来,——好像这位旅行着的怪神,吐出了云霞,快要把夕阳映照着的天空作它的列车的号衣;那时我听到铁马吼声如雷,使山谷都响起回声,它的脚步踩得土地震动,它的鼻孔喷着火和黑烟(我不知道在新的神话中,人们会收进怎样的飞马或火龙),看来好像大地终于有了一个配得上住在地球上的新的种族了。如果这一切确实像表面上看来的那样,人类控制了元素,使之服务于高贵的目标,那该多好!如果火车头上的云真是在创英雄业绩时所冒的汗,蒸汽就跟飘浮在农田上空的云一样有益,那末,元素和大自然自己都会乐意为人类服务,当人类的护卫者了。

  我眺望那早车时的心情,跟我眺望日出时的一样,日出也不见得比早车更准时。火车奔向波士顿,成串的云在它后面拉长,越升越高,升上了天,片刻间把太阳遮住,把我远处的田野荫蔽了。这一串云是天上的列车,旁边那拥抱土地的小车辆,相形之下,只是一支标枪的倒钩了。在这冬天的早晨,铁马的御者起身极早,在群山间的星光底下喂草驾挽。它这么早升了火,给它内热,以便它起程赶路。要是这事既能这样早开始,又能这样无害,那才好啦!积雪深深时,它给穿上了雪鞋,用了一个巨大的铁犁,从群山中开出条路来,直到海边,而车辆像一个沟中播种器,把所有焦灼的人们和浮华的商品,当作种子飞撒在田野中。一整天,这火驹飞过田园,停下时,只为了它主人要休息。

  就是半夜里,我也常常给它的步伐和凶恶的哼哈声吵醒;在远处山谷的僻隐森林中,它碰到了冰雪的封锁;要在晓星底下它才能进马厩。可是既不休息,也不打盹,它立刻又上路旅行去了。有时,在黄昏中,我听到它在马厩里,放出了这一天的剩余力气,使它的神经平静下来,脏腑和脑袋也冷静了,可以打几个小时的钢铁的瞌睡。如果这事业,这样旷日持久和不知疲乏,又能这样英勇不屈而威风凛凛,那才好呵!

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