英语学习杂志 2012-12-07 17:39





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By Erica F.

采苏 选编

The lights go out – another power outage[1]. “Grab[2] the candles,” Mom says, and I do. My younger brother and I raid every room to collect the tall candles and votives spaced around the house.[3] I hurry from shelf to shelf gathering wax sticks in my arms and place them in the living room, a few candles in each corner except for a small red votive. That one I keep. It is the one I will take to the coffee table to use to read. I slide my book, Things Fall Apart, beside the candle holder, determined to finish the last three chapters, but lacking conviction. So the book remains closed. A sigh escapes my brother’s lips.[4]

“This is boring,” he says. A drop of wax falls on my book.

“I know,” I say, but really, I am enjoying the stillness[5]. I like to watch the candle burn and feel that life is simple. I like to look out the window into an immediate darkness unspoiled by harsh light.[6] I cherish these silent moments when I feel as if I can live the way they lived, the people of the past – the Egyptians, the Pilgrims, the Greeks – anyone who ever lived to see the black color I’m seeing, anyone who lived to see a yellow flame and depended on it.[7] I feel at one with a secret, primeval[8] age. I’m convinced that night, in this unhampered[9] state, is the closest a person can get to experiencing the past.

So, what was night really like for them? Night, as we know it now, is a mellow, tender thing compared to the impenetrable darkness that cloaked Earth’s first people.[10] Even its beauty seemed unparalleled[11].

What did a farmer’s family do at night? Of course, the darkness must have brought them together, forced them into each other’s company as it has done to us tonight – fostered camaraderie in a time of fear and uncertainty.[12] A fire probably blazed[13] in a central room where the family gathered to talk and relax. Night was a time when men and women were liberated from work and socialized.[14] They had no computers or TVs, and had to make do with[15] books, religion, and conversation. At their bedside, they prayed to God, and felt a sense of security that they were out of the darkness and harm’s reach.

Nevertheless, to venture outside was sometimes necessary, and the threat of robbers, wolves, even the ethereal, was tangible.[16] What emotions did these people feel? Did they witness a deep azure cloud creep across heaven?[17] Catch a glimpse of the devil’s minions[18]? What would it have been like to feel the night, heavy and damp against my back? Would it have taken me, smothered me with its clammy hands, isolated me?[19] Or would those have been frightful[20] dreams, and dreams only? Perhaps the night was grand, maybe a mixture of both beauty and peril[21].

I imagine a young girl, stepping outside her home and into a desert for some air. A cool, earthy[22] smell would greet her. There’s a sky speckled[23] with millions of stars – far more than a person could see today – and there’s the moon. It’s the largest object in the sky, the midnight sun that illuminates[24] the world, the traveler’s torch. It inspires stories of uncertainty, stories of power. I imagine this girl marveling[25] at the moon and stars. She’s entranced by this sight as divine as sparkling diamonds, and if she wanders too far, she needn’t worry, for the stars will lead her back home.[26]

Bzzz! The lights return. Everyone cheers and abandons the room, happy that their period of solitude[27] is over, everyone except me. I pull my candle closer, and stare into the night. The glory is gone; it has been dimmed by street lamps, electric signs, TVs, and all other manner of artificial light.[28] But in those moments, when every light in every house was snuffed[29], people may have had a taste of the old world. They may finally have touched upon the fear, the admiration, and the reverence that our predecessors felt for the night.[30]


1. outage: (水、电等)断供。

2. grab: 抓住,抓取。

3. raid: 突击搜查,劫掠;votive: 蜡烛。

4. slide: 悄悄移动,悄悄地放在;Things Fall Apart:《瓦解》,小说,尼日利亚作家阿契贝著作;holder: 支托物,夹具。

5. stillness: 平静,安静。

6. immediate: 紧接的,贴近的;unspoiled: 未受损害的,未丧失原有自然美的;harsh: 刺目的,耀眼的。

7. Pilgrim: 清教徒前辈移民(指1620年到达北美洲创立普利茅斯殖民地的英国清教徒)。

8. primeval: 原始的,远古的。

9. unhampered: 不受束缚的,自由的。

10. impenetrable: 不能穿过的,透不过的;cloak: v. 遮盖。

11. unparalleled: 无比的,无双的

12. foster: 培养,助长;camaraderie: 同志情谊。

13. blaze: 熊熊燃烧。

14. liberate: 解除对……的束缚,解脱;socialize:使合群的,使适应过社会生活。

15. make do with: 用(某物)将就对付。

16. venture: 冒险前进;ethereal: (声音、特性等)飘渺的,非人间的;tangible:重要的,显著的。

17. azure: 天蓝色的,蔚蓝色的;creep: 缓慢移动,蔓延。

18. minion: 部下,下属。

19. smother: 使窒息,闷死;clammy: 又冷又潮的,湿冷的;isolate: 使孤立,使隔离。

20. frightful: 非常严重的,极其讨厌的。

21. peril: 危险,险事。

22. earthy: 泥土般的,泥土味的。

23. speckled: 多斑的,布满斑点的。

24. illuminate: 照亮,照明。

25. marvel: (对……)感到惊讶,钦佩。

26. entrance: 使入迷,使神魂颠倒;sparkling: 闪闪发光的,闪烁的。

27. solitude: 孤独,独处。

28. dim: 使暗下来,使变微弱;artificial: 人造的,人工的。

29. snuff: 熄灭,掐灭(火焰)。

30. touch upon: 提到,提及;reverence: 尊敬,崇敬;predecessor: 前辈,前人。

(来源:英语学习杂志 编辑:丹妮)



















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