Yun (translated)

Yun (translated) By Lin Yutang

On the seventh night of the seventh moon of that year [1780] Yun prepared incense, candles and some melons and fruits, so that we might together worship the Grandson of Heaven in the Hall called “After My Heart.” I had carved two seals with the inscription,”That we might remain husband and wife from incarnation to incarnation.” I kept the seal with positive characters, while she kept the one with negative characters, to be used in our correspondence. That night, the moon was shining beautifully and when I looked down at the creek, the ripples shone like golden chains. We were wearing light silk dresses and sitting together with a small fan in our hands, before a window overlooking the creek. Looking up at the sky, we saw the clouds sailing through the heavens, changing at every moment into a myriad forms, and Yun said:”This moon is common to the whole universe. I wonder if there is another pair of lovers quite as passionate as ourselves looking at the same moon tonight?” And I said:”Oh, there are plenty of people who will be sitting in the cool evening and looking at the moon, and, perhaps also many women criticizing or enjoying the clouds in their chambers; but when a husband and wife are looking at the moon [The seventh day of the seventh moon is the only day in the year when the pair of heavenly lovers, the Cowherd (“Grandson of Heaven”) and the Spinster are allowed to meet each other across the Milky Way together], I hardly think that the clouds will form the subject of their conversation.” By and by, the candle-lights went out, the moon sank in the sky, and we removed the fruits and went to bed.

The fifteenth of the seventh moon was All Souls’ Day. Yun prepared a little dinner, so that we could drink together with the moon as our company, but when night came, the sky was suddenly overcast with dark clouds. Yun knitted her brow and said:”If it be the wish of God that we two should live together until there are silver threads in our hair, then the moon must come out again tonight.” On my part I felt disheartened also. As we looked across the creek, we saw will-o’-the-wisps flitting in crowds hither and thither like ten thousand candle-lights, threading their way through the willows and smartweeds. And then we began to compose a poem together, each saying two lines at a time, the first completing the couplet which the other had begun, and the second beginning another couplet for the other to finish, and after a few rhymes, the longer we kept on, the more nonsensical it became, until it was a jumble of slapdash doggerel. By this time, Yun was buried amidst tears and laughter and choking on my breast, while I felt the fragrance of the jasmine in her hair assail my nostrils. I patted her on the shoulder and said jokingly,”I thought that the jasmine was used for decoration in women’s hair because it was round like a pearl; I did not know that it is because its fragrance is so much finer when it is mixed with the smell of women’s hair and powder. When it smells like that, even the citron cannot remotely compare with it.” Then Yun stopped laughing and said:”The citron is the gentleman among the different fragrant plants because its fragrance is so slight that you can hardly detect it; on the other hand, the jasmine is a common fellow because it borrows its fragrance partly from others. Therefore, the fragrance of the jasmine is like that of a smiling sycophant.””Why, then,” I said,”do you keep away from the gentleman and associate with the common fellow?” And Yiin replied,”I am amused by the gentleman that loves the common fellow.” While we were thus bandying words about, it was already midnight, and we saw the wind had blown away the clouds in the sky and there appeared the full moon, round like a chariot wheel, and we were greatly delighted. And so we began to drink by the side of the window, but before we had tasted three cups, we heard suddenly the noise of a splash under the bridge, as if some one had fallen into the water. We looked out through the window and saw there was not a thing, the water was as smooth as a mirror, except that we heard the noise of a duck scampering in the marshes. I knew that there was a ghost of some one drowned by the side of the Ts&aposanglang Pavilion, but knowing that Yun was very timid, dared not mention it to her. And Yun sighed and said:”Alas! whence cometh this noise ?” and we shuddered all over. Quickly we shut the window and carried the wine pot back into the room.

A lamp light was then burning as small as a pea, and the curtains moved in the dark, and we were shaking all over. We then put out the light and went inside the bed curtain, and Yun already had run up a high fever. Soon I had a high temperature myself, and our illness dragged on for about twenty days. True it is that when the cup of happiness overflows, disaster follows, as the saying goes, and this was also an omen that we should not be able to live together until old age.

After we had moved to Ts’angmi Alley, I called our bedroom the “Tower of Guests’ Fragrance,” with a reference to Yun’s name, and to the story of Liang Hung and Meng Kuang who (“Yun” in Chinese means a certain fragrant weed as husband and wife) were always courteous to each other like guests. We rather disliked the house because the walls were too high and the courtyard was too small. At the back, there was another house, leading to the library. Looking out of the window at the back, one could see the old garden of Mr. Lu, then in a dilapidated condition. Yun’s thoughts still hovered about the beautiful scenery of the Ts’anglang Pavilion.

At this time there was an old peasant woman living on the east of Mother Gold&aposs Bridge and the north of Kenghsiang. Her little cottage was surrounded on all sides by vegetable fields and had a wicker gate. Outside the gate, there was a pond about thirty yards across, surrounded by a wilderness of trees on all sides. … A few paces to the west of the cottage, there was a mound filled with broken bricks, from the top of which one could command a view of the surrounding country, which was an open ground with a stretch of wild vegetation. Once the old woman happened to mention the place, and Yun kept on thinking about it. … So the next day I went there and found that the cottage consisted only of two rooms, which could be partitioned into four. With paper windows and bamboo beds, the house would make quite a delightfully cool place to stay in….

Our only neighbors were an old couple who raised vegetables for the market. They knew that we were going to stay there for the summer, and came and called on us, bringing us some fish from the pond and vegetables from their own fields. We offered to pay for them, but as they wouldn’t take any money, Yun made a pair of shoes for them, which they were finally persuaded to accept. This was in July when the trees cast a green shade over the place. The summer breeze blew over the water of the pond, and cicadas filled the air with their singing the whole day. Our old neighbor also made a fishing line for us, and we used to angle together under the shade. Late in the afternoons, we would go up on the mound to look at the evening glow and compose lines of poetry, when we felt so inclined. Two of the Beast-clouds swallow the sinking sun, And the bow-moon shoots the falling stars.

After a while, the moon cut her image in the water, insects began to cry all around, and we placed a bamboo bed near the hedgerow to sit or lie upon. The old woman then would inform us that wine had been warmed up and dinner prepared, and we would sit down to have a little drink under the moon. After we had a bath, we would put on our slippers and carry a fan, and lie or sit there, listening to old tales of retribution told by our neighbor. When we came in to sleep about midnight, we felt our whole bodies nice and cool, almost forgetting that we were living in a city.

There along the hedgerow, we asked the gardener to plant chrysanthemums. The flowers bloomed in the ninth moon, and we continued to stay there for another ten days. My mother was also quite delighted and came to see us there. So we ate crabs in the midst of chrysanthemums and whiled away the whole day. Yun was quite enchanted with all this and said:”Some day we must build a cottage here. We’ll buy ten mow of ground, and around it we’ll plant vegetables and melons for our food. You will paint and I will do embroidery, from which we could make enough money to buy wine and compose poems over dinners. Thus, clad in simple gowns and eating simple meals, we could live a very happy life together without going anywhere.” I fully agreed with her. Now the place is still there while the one who knows my heart is dead. Alas, such is life!


芸 (节选自《浮生六记》) 沈复



入帐,芸已寒热大作,余亦继之,困顿两旬。真所谓乐极灾生,亦是白头不终之兆。迁仓米巷,余颜其卧楼曰宾香阁,盖以芸名而取如宾意也。院窄墙高,一无可取。后有厢楼,通藏书处,开窗对陆氏废园,但见荒凉之象。沧浪风景,时切芸怀。有老妪居金母桥之东,埂巷之北。绕屋皆菜圃,编篱为门。门外有池约亩许,花光树影错杂篱边。……屋西数武,瓦砾堆成土山,登其巅可远眺,地旷人稀,颇饶野趣。妪偶言及,芸神往不置,…… 越日至其地,屋仅二间,前后隔而为四,纸窗竹榻,颇有幽趣。……




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