萨摩亚与自挽诗
——狱中给女儿的信选刊之六十

亲爱的小文:
  南太平洋有十四个小岛叫萨摩亚(Samoa is a group of 14 islands in the South Pacific Ocean.),东边的一堆属于美国,叫American Samoa,西边的叫Western Samoa(西萨摩亚),是个小国家,只有台湾的十三分之一大,人口十八万,它出产的三种主要东西,念起来都有点口吃(结巴,stammer):

一、bananas(香蕉)——nana
二、cacao(可可)——caca
三、coconuts(椰子)——coco

  一结结巴巴,就扯不清了,果然出了麻烦。

   可可(cacao)是做巧克力(chocolate)和可可粉的,但可可粉的英文是cocoa,这个字看起来好像是coconuts(椰子)做出来的,所以大家都叫做椰子粉,其实只是可可粉,不是椰子粉。(Because of a mistake in spelling, probably made by English importers many years ago, these beans became known as cocoa beans in English-speaking countries. This causes many people to think the beans come from the coconut palm tree instead of the cacao tree.)

   Samoa这地方气温很怪,十二月最热,七月最冷(December is the hottest month and July the coldest.)。Samoa人喜欢打cricket(板球),但不喜欢打cricket(蟋蟀),板球和蟋蟀,在英文中同一个字。

The crickets are chirping(or are crying).(蟋蟀在叫。)
They are playing a match at cricket.(他们在做板球比赛。)

   更喜欢在雨地里打。(Samoans love to stay out in a cooling rain.)(Samoans enjoy dancing very much. They also love to play their own version of cricket, a game they learned from the English missionaries. They play cricket with teams that may have from 10 to 300 players, compared to 11 players in normal cricket game.)

   男女多穿一种叫lava-lava的裙子,其实就是一块布,卷成裙子。(Most Samoan men and some women wear only a lava-lava, a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist like a skirt. Some wear a blouse or shirt with their lava-lava. Most of the women wear dresses, or a skirt and blouse.)

   在国会里开会也穿裙子。

   他们的囚犯白天不坐牢,白天照常做自己的事,晚上才到牢里报到。并且监狱也没有铁栏杆(Prisoners live in jail without bars.),房子比平常住的还像样,因为他们平常只住四面通风的fale(open-sided fale),是用椰子树做材料搭起来的。(The people live in open-sided fale(house)that have a thatched roof supported by poles. They roll down palm leaf blinds when it rains.)

   中国古话说“画地为牢”(to draw a circle on the ground for a prison, as was done in the “good old days”)、说“夜不闭户”(There's no need to close doors at night.)……这些世界大同的标准,西萨摩亚人都做到了。

   西萨摩亚人并没有钱,他们每人每年只有七十五美金,就是每月六块美金(每天两毛钱),但他们不需要钱。

   《金银岛》(Treasure Island)的作者斯蒂文森(R. L. Stevenson)九十年前死在西萨摩亚。只活了四十四岁(他的太太比他大十一岁),死前他写了一首《安魂曲》(Requiem)。(Requiem-1. A Mass for the repose of a departed soul or souls, 安魂祭(安去世灵魂的弥撒祭)。2. A setting of the Mass for the dead, 安魂曲(即死者弥撒祭时所奏之曲)的一段乐谱。Also, a piece of like character for other words, 又指吊歌、挽歌。3. Any grand musical service of hymn in honor of the dead, 对于死者表示敬意的严肃音乐演奏或壮丽的圣歌。)(中国的文学家陶渊明也写过《自祭文》。)爸爸把它翻译给你看:

REQUIEM
Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

自挽诗
在星空之下,多么开朗,
掘一个坟,我就一躺,
我活得痛快,死得清爽,
我一心横卧,什么也不想。
请刻这首诗,在我坟场:
他躺的地方,正他所向往,
水手已回来,从那海上,
猎人已回来,从那山岗。

  画片上小狗背后刻的诗,就是上面这首。

   《金银岛》是一本写海盗的小说,你一定要看一看。写得非常好。英文的学校图书馆一定有,中文的翻译有开明书店的《宝岛》和东方出版社的两种带注音的《金银岛》。

   你给爸爸的信、生日卡都收到,你的成绩单也收到,你的好成绩爸爸真高兴。文学家Henry James once praised Stevenson as “the only man in England who can write a decent English sentence.”(英国只有他能写出最好的英文句子)。爸爸盼你在班上也这样。
爸爸 一九七五年四月二十六日