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瓦尔登湖:村子

2006-07-29 00:53

  After hoeing, or perhaps reading and writing, in the forenoon, I usually bathed again in the pond, swimming across one of its coves for a stint, and washed the dust of labor from my person, or smoothed out the last wrinkle which study had made, and for the afternoon was absolutely free.  Every day or two I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossip which is incessantly going on there, circulating either from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homoeopathic doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs.  As I walked in the woods to see the birds and squirrels, so I walked in the village to see the men and boys; instead of the wind among the pines I heard the carts rattle.  In one direction from my house there was a colony of muskrats in the river meadows; under the grove of elms and buttonwoods in the other horizon was a village of busy men, as curious to me as if they had been prairie-dogs, each sitting at the mouth of its burrow, or running over to a neighbor's to gossip.  I went there frequently to observe their habits.  The village appeared to me a great news room; and on one side, to support it, as once at Redding & Company's on State Street, they kept nuts and raisins, or salt and meal and other groceries.  Some have such a vast appetite for the former commodity, that is, the news, and such sound digestive organs, that they can sit forever in public avenues without stirring, and let it simmer and whisper through them like the Etesian winds, or as if inhaling ether, it only producing numbness and insensibility to pain —— otherwise it would often be painful to bear —— without affecting the consciousness.  I hardly ever failed, when I rambled through the village, to see a row of such worthies, either sitting on a ladder sunning themselves, with their bodies inclined forward and their eyes glancing along the line this way and that, from time to time,with a voluptuous expression, or else leaning against a barn with their hands in their pockets, like caryatides, as if to prop it up. They, being commonly out of doors, heard whatever was in the wind. These are the coarsest mills, in which all gossip is first rudely digested or cracked up before it is emptied into finer and more delicate hoppers within doors.  I observed that the vitals of the village were the grocery, the bar-room, the post-office, and the bank; and, as a necessary part of the machinery, they kept a bell, a big gun, and a fire-engine, at convenient places; and the houses were so arranged as to make the most of mankind, in lanes and fronting one another, so that every traveller had to run the gauntlet, and every man, woman, and child might get a lick at him. Of course, those who were stationed nearest to the head of the line,where they could most see and be seen, and have the first blow at him, paid the highest prices for their places; and the few straggling inhabitants in the outskirts, where long gaps in the line began to occur, and the traveller could get over walls or turn aside into cow-paths, and so escape, paid a very slight ground or window tax.  Signs were hung out on all sides to allure him; some to catch him by the appetite, as the tavern and victualling cellar; some by the fancy, as the dry goods store and the jeweller's; and others by the hair or the feet or the skirts, as the barber, the shoemaker,or the tailor.  Besides, there was a still more terrible standing invitation to call at every one of these houses, and company expected about these times.  For the most part I escaped wonderfully from these dangers, either by proceeding at once boldly and without deliberation to the goal, as is recommended to those who run the gauntlet, or by keeping my thoughts on high things, like Orpheus,who, "loudly singing the praises of the gods to his lyre, drowned the voices of the Sirens, and kept out of danger."  Sometimes I bolted suddenly, and nobody could tell my whereabouts, for I did not stand much about gracefulness, and never hesitated at a gap in a fence.  I was even accustomed to make an irruption into some houses,where I was well entertained, and after learning the kernels and very last sieveful of news —— what had subsided, the prospects of war and peace, and whether the world was likely to hold together much longer —— I was let out through the rear avenues, and so escaped to the woods again.

  It was very pleasant, when I stayed late in town, to launch myself into the night, especially if it was dark and tempestuous,and set sail from some bright village parlor or lecture room, with a bag of rye or Indian meal upon my shoulder, for my snug harbor in the woods, having made all tight without and withdrawn under hatches with a merry crew of thoughts, leaving only my outer man at the helm, or even tying up the helm when it was plain sailing.  I had many a genial thought by the cabin fire "as I sailed."  I was never cast away nor distressed in any weather, though I encountered some severe storms.  It is darker in the woods, even in common nights,than most suppose.  I frequently had to look up at the opening between the trees above the path in order to learn my route, and,where there was no cart-path, to feel with my feet the faint track which I had worn, or steer by the known relation of particular trees which I felt with my hands, passing between two pines for instance,not more than eighteen inches apart, in the midst of the woods,invariably, in the darkest night.  Sometimes, after coming home thus late in a dark and muggy night, when my feet felt the path which my eyes could not see, dreaming and absent-minded all the way, until I was aroused by having to raise my hand to lift the latch, I have not been able to recall a single step of my walk, and I have thought that perhaps my body would find its way home if its master should forsake it, as the hand finds its way to the mouth without assistance.  Several times, when a visitor chanced to stay into evening, and it proved a dark night, I was obliged to conduct him to the cart-path in the rear of the house, and then point out to him the direction he was to pursue, and in keeping which he was to be guided rather by his feet than his eyes.  One very dark night I directed thus on their way two young men who had been fishing in the pond.  They lived about a mile off through the woods, and were quite used to the route.  A day or two after one of them told me that they wandered about the greater part of the night, close by their own premises, and did not get home till toward morning, by which time,as there had been several heavy showers in the meanwhile, and the leaves were very wet, they were drenched to their skins.  I have heard of many going astray even in the village streets, when the darkness was so thick that you could cut it with a knife, as the saying is.  Some who live in the outskirts, having come to town a-shopping in their wagons, have been obliged to put up for the night; and gentlemen and ladies making a call have gone half a mile out of their way, feeling the sidewalk only with their feet, and not knowing when they turned.  It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable experience, to be lost in the woods any time.  Often in a snow-storm, even by day, one will come out upon a well-known road and yet find it impossible to tell which way leads to the village. Though he knows that he has travelled it a thousand times, he cannot recognize a feature in it, but it is as strange to him as if it were a road in Siberia.  By night, of course, the perplexity is infinitely greater.  In our most trivial walks, we are constantly,though unconsciously, steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, and if we go beyond our usual course we still carry in our minds the bearing of some neighboring cape; and not till we are completely lost, or turned round —— for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost—— do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature.  Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as be awakes,whether from sleep or any abstraction.  Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.

  锄地之后,上午也许读读书,写写字,我通常还要在湖水中再洗个澡,游泳经过一个小湾,这却是最大限度了,从我身体上洗去了劳动的尘垢,或者除去了阅读致成的最后一条皱纹,我在下午是很自由的。每天或隔天,我散步到村子里去,听听那些永无止境的闲话,或者是口口相传的,或者是报纸上互相转载的,如用顺势疗法小剂量的接受它们,的确也很新鲜,犹如树叶的瑟瑟有声和青蛙的咯咯而呜。正像我散步在森林中时,爱看鸟雀和松鼠一样,我散步在村中,爱看一些男人和孩童;听不到松涛和风声了,我却听到了辚辚的车马声。从我的屋子向着一个方向望过去,河畔的草地上,有着一个麝鼠的聚居地;而在另一个地平线上,榆树和悬铃木底下,却有一个满是忙人的村子,使我发生了好奇之心,仿佛他们是大草原上的狗,不是坐在他们的兽穴的人口,便是奔到邻家闲谈去了。我时常到村子里去观察他们的习惯。在我看来,村子像一个极大的新闻编辑室,在它的一边支持它的,仿佛国务街上的里亭出版公司的情形,是他们出售干果,葡萄干,盐,玉米粉,以及其他的食品杂货。有些人,对于前一种的商品,即新闻,是胃口大,消化能力也一样大的,他们能永远一动不动地坐在街道上,听那些新闻像地中海季风般沸腾着,私语着吹过他们,或者可以说,他们像吸入了一些只是产生局部麻醉作用的乙醚,因此意识还是清醒的,苦痛却被麻痹了,——要不然有一些新闻,听到了是要使人苦痛的。每当我倘徉经过那村子的时候,没有一次不看到这些宝贝一排排坐在石阶上晒太阳,身子微偏向前,他们的眼睛时不时地带着淫欲的表情向这边或那边瞟一眼,要不然便是身子倚在一个谷仓上,两手插在裤袋里,像女像柱在支撑着它似的。他们因为一般都在露天,凤中吹过的什么都听见了。这些是最粗的磨坊,凡有流长飞短的闲话都经他们第一道碾过,然后进入户内,倾倒入更精细的漏斗中去。我观察到村中最有生气的是食品杂货店,酒吧间,邮政局和银行;此外像机器中少不了的零件,还有一只大钟,一尊大炮,一辆救火车,都放在适当的地方;为了尽量利用人类的特点,房屋都面对面地排成巷子,任何旅行者都不得不受到夹道鞭打,男女老少都可以揍他一顿。

  自然,有一些安置在最靠近巷子口上的人最先看到的,也最先被看到,是第一个动手揍他的,所以要付最高的房租了;而少数零零落落散居在村外的居民,在他们那儿开始有很长的间隙,旅行者可以越墙而过,或抄小路逃走掉的,他们自然只付很少一笔地租或窗税。四面挂起了招牌,引诱着他,有的在胃口上把他抓住了,那便是酒店和食品店;有的抓住他的幻觉,如干货店和珠宝店,有的抓住他的头发,或他的脚或他的下摆,那些是理发店,鞋于店和成衣店。此外,还有一个更可怕的危险,老是要你挨户逐屋地访问,而且在这种场合里总有不少人。大体说来,这一切危险,我都能够很巧妙地逃避过去,或者我立刻勇往直前,走向我的目的地,毫不犹豫,那些遭到夹道鞭打的人实在应该采取我的办法,或者我一心一意地想着崇高的事物,像俄耳甫斯,“弹奏着七弦琴,高歌诸神之赞美诗,把妖女的歌声压过,因此没有遭难。”有时候,我闪电似的溜走了,没有人知道我在哪里,因为我不大在乎礼貌,篱笆上有了洞,我不觉得有犹豫的必要。

  我甚至还习惯于闯进一些人的家里去,那里招待得我很好,就在听取了最后一些精选的新闻之后,知道了刚平息下来的事情,战争与和平的前景,世界还能够合作多久,我就从后面几条路溜掉,又逸入我的森林中间了。

  当我在城里待到了很晚的时候,才出发回入黑夜之中,这是很愉快的,特别在那些墨黑的、有风暴的夜晚,我从一个光亮的村屋或演讲厅里开航,在肩上带了一袋黑麦或印第安玉米粉,驶进林中我那安乐的港埠,外面的一切都牢靠了,带着快乐的思想退到甲板下面,只留我的外表的人把着舵,但要是航道平静,我索性用绳子把舵拴死了。当我航行的时候,烤着舱中的火炉,我得到了许多欢欣的思想。任何气候,我都不会忧悒,都不感悲怆,虽然我遇到过几个凶恶的风景。就是在平常的晚上,森林里也比你们想象的来得更黑。在最黑的夜晚,我常常只好看那树叶空隙间的天空,一面走,一面这样认路,走到一些没有车道的地方,还只能用我的脚来探索我自己走出来的道路,有时我用手来摸出几枝熟悉的树,这样才能辨向航行,譬如,从两枝松树中间穿过,它们中间的距离不过十八英寸,总是在森林中央。有时,在一个墨黑而潮湿的夜晚,很晚地回来,我的脚摸索着眼睛看不到的道路,我的心却一路都心不在焉,像在做梦似的,突然我不得不伸手开门了,这才清醒过来,我简直不记得我是怎么走过来的,我想也许我的身体,就在灵魂遗弃了它之后,也还是能够找到它的归途的,就好像手总可以摸到嘴,不需任何帮忙一样。好几次,当一个访客一直待到夜深,而这一夜凑巧又是墨黑的时候,我可不能不从屋后送他到车道上去了。同时就把他要去的方向指点了给他,劝他不是靠他的眼睛,而是靠他的两条腿摸索前进。有一个非常暗黑的晚上,我这样给两个到湖边来钓鱼的年轻人指点了他们的路。他们住在大约离森林一英里外的地方,还是熟门熟路的呢。

  一两天后,他们中的一个告诉我,他们在自己的住所附近兜来兜去兜了大半夜,直到黎明才回到了家,其间逢到了几场大雨,树叶都湿淋淋的,他们给淋得皮肤都湿了。我听说村中有许多人在街上走走,都走得迷了路,那是在黑暗最浓厚的时候,正如老古话所说,黑得你可以用刀子一块一块把它割下来。有些人是住在郊外的,驾车到村里来办货,却不得不留在村里过夜了;还有一些绅士淑女们,出门访客,离开他们的路线不过半英里路,可怜只能用脚来摸索人行道,在什么时候拐弯都不晓得了。任何时候在森林里迷路,真是惊险而值得回忆的,是宝贵的经历。在暴风雪中,哪怕是白天,走到一条走惯的路上了,也可以迷失方向,不知道哪里通往村子。虽然他知道他在这条路上走过一千次了,但是什么也不认得了,它就跟西伯利亚的一条路同样地陌生了。如果在晚上,自然还要困难得多。在我们的日常散步中,我们经常地,虽然是不知不觉地,像领港的人一样,依据着某某灯塔,或依据某某海角,向前行进,如果我们不在走惯的航线上,我们依然在脑中有着邻近的一些海角的印象;除非我们完全迷了路,或者转了一次身,在森林中你只要闭上眼睛,转一次身,你就迷路了,——到那时候,我们才发现了大自然的浩瀚与奇异。不管是睡觉或其他心不在焉,每一个人都应该在清醒过来之后,经常看看罗盘上的方向。非到我们迷了路,换句话说,非到我们失去了这个世界之后,我们才开始发现我们自己,认识我们的处境,并且认识了我们的联系之无穷的界限。

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