星期六 三月 29, 2008 9:19 am
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Violent Siberian Cold Snap
by Wang XuSheng
Translated by Kino Lee
Although windows and doors were shut tight,
the students, without thick clothes, were shivering
like a thin sheet of paper.
It's really not easy for the Siberian cold snap,
marching across the frontier
and through the inland provinces to Shandong,
to carry out the long-range raids upon our class,
the geography teacher said.
Bleak was the view outside the building.
Teeth of the children chattered
like the rustling twigs on the plain.
No longer able to watch the students' suffering,
the young teacher slowly lifted the globe,
and decisively ____insert____ed his first and middle fingers
into the notorious wind gap in the Altai Mountains.
At once the sound of the wind died down.
The sun shone through the window panes.
Flowers bloomed and birds sang along.
But that was a temporary lull,
After which, the emotional teacher cried out
And fell down on the ground, deathly pale,
The two fingers of his right hand darkening.
As for the globe, hard ice, two fingers deep
Spread over the long and narrow land
between the Tianshan and the Altai Mountains.
Violent Siberian Cold Snap (trans. by Kino Lee)
The cold really comes through in this poem and settles in the reader's bones. Having grown up in the province of Saskatchewan, where the thermometer often falls to minus thirty for weeks at a time during the winter, I identified with what was being described. What the writer and translator did so well was to help readers visualize the cold snap, something we're not used to doing. We can feel it but without a poet's help, we can't see it. The poem showed us the cold striding across the globe towards the helpless children in their classroom. To make this cold colder and to endow it with more vitality, I would suggest that the teacher's words at the end of the first stanza could be more colloquial. His words sound overly formal for someone speaking. As well, Kino Lee might like to change "Teeth of the children" to the less formal "The children's teeth." In English, we are wary of adverbs. The right adverb in the right place can be a remarkable addition, but sometimes these modifiers don't work hard enough and end up diffusing the energy of the verb. For that reason, take a look at "decisively" in 2.6. Adjectives can also be a weaker form of diction. I wonder if there's a more colourful word than "notorious" in 2.7. "Deathly pale," though accurate, is an over-used phrase in English. And finally, the syntax could be worked on in the last few lines. Perhaps there's a good reason to start the final sentence with "As for the globe," but here's an alternative to consider: "Hard ice, two fingers deep/Spread across the globe over the long and narrow land/between the Tianshan and the Altai Mountains." This final image is so strong. How implacable the cold, how hard the teacher tried to stop it!
(Commented by Lorna Crozier)
诗中的这股寒流确实令读者感到彻骨之寒。我的故乡加拿大萨斯卡切万省（Saskatchewan），那儿的气温在冬天有时会降到零下 三十度，并可能持续好几周，这使我对诗中所描述的寒流能有切身的体会。作者和译者所做的工作令人称赞，他们帮助读者将这股寒流形象化，而这是我们不常做 的。我们或许可以感觉到它，但是没有诗人的帮助，我们不可能看到它。在诗中作者为我们清晰地展现了寒流穿越地球来袭击教室里的孩子们。为使这股寒流的强度 更甚，并使其更为生动，我建议第一节最后老师的话可以更口语化一点，作为普通人说话，他的话听起来稍显正式。同样，译者或可将“Teeth of the children” 改为更为随便的 “The children’s teeth”。
在英语中，我们对副词的使用比较谨慎，这些修饰语的效果并不明显，相反可以消解动词的“能量”。因此，第二节第六行的 “decisively”可再斟酌。同样，形容词在措辞上也可弱化效果。我认为第二节第七行的“notorious”或许能有更好的词替换。 “Deathly pale”尽管准确，但在英语中已经有点被滥用。另外，最后几句的结构或可改进，或许以“As for the globe”起句自有其道理，但下面的句子也可以考虑，“Hard ice, two fingers deep/Spread across the globe over the long and narrow land/between the Tianshan and the Altai Mountains.”最后这一意象异常强烈，这寒流是如此的叫人难以释怀，这老师是如此决绝地要去阻止它！
（Lorna Crozier评/Kino Lee译）