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試譯 柳宗元 "捕蛇者說"
2020/08/07 17:04
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永州之野產異蛇:黑質而白章,觸草木盡死;以嚙人,無御之者。然得而臘之以為餌,可以已大風、攣踠、瘺癘,去死肌,殺三蟲。其始太醫以王命聚之,歲賦其二。募有能捕之者,當其租入。永之人爭奔走焉。

Outside Yongzhou there were weird snakes: black skin with white stripes.  When they crawled, all grasses and weeds they touched would all shrivel and die.  When they bit human, no one could resist their lethal venom.  However, if they were caught, killed, cured, and dehydrated, they could be used as an efficacy-enhancer added to the mdicine as to treat leprosy, paralysis, disablement, pandemic, removal of dead flesh and parasites.  At the begining, royal doctors conscripted the snake skins twice a year under the order from emperors; later the order changed to hire snake-catchers and exempted their taxes in exchange of the skins they contributed.  So the people of Yongzhou scrambled to engage in such a work.     

有蔣氏者,專其利三世矣。問之,則曰:“吾祖死于是,吾父死于是,今吾嗣為之十二年,幾死者數矣。”言之貌若甚戚者。余悲之,且曰:“若毒之乎?余將告于蒞事者,更若役,復若賦,則何如?”

A guy named Jiang, did for living on the tax-exemption job of snake-catching which had been descending from his father and grandfather.  I asked for his comments.  He said, "Both of my grandfather and my father died of snake bite.  As having been the successor of them for twelve years, I almost died of the same way many times,"  The sad look evinced on his face when he recalled; I sympathized him and asked him, "If you dislike such a job, I will tell the officers in charge to find you a new job and you resume paying the tax.  How about that?"

蔣氏大戚,汪然出涕,曰:“君將哀而生之乎?則吾斯役之不幸,未若復吾賦不幸之甚也。向吾不為斯役,則久已病矣。自吾氏三世居是鄉,積于今六十歲矣。而鄉鄰之生日蹙,殫其地之出,竭其廬之入。號呼而轉徙,饑渴而頓踣。觸風雨,犯寒暑,呼噓毒癘,往往而死者,相藉也。

My words made Jiang even more saddened, and his eyes were watering.  He contiuned to recount his misfortune, "Are you pitying me and going to let me survive?  But the misfortune I am encountering now is far less disastroous than the one that I should resume paying tax.  Supposed government started to levy tax on me, my life would have long been much more unfortunate.  Since my grandfather, three generation of my family had been living in this place for sixty years.  The lives of my neighbors were stuck in extremely reduced circumstance day after day.  Government took all of their harvests out of fields away, and further conscripted all the belongings from their houses.  They all started to roam in wail and despair, trudging and stumbling upon roads with hunger and thirsty, fighting against the strom and the tempest, braving all kinds of inclemencies, breathing the miasma.  They died one after another en route, then dead bodies piled up on roads. 

曩與吾祖居者,今其室十無一焉。與吾父居者,今其室十無二三焉。與吾居十二年者,今其室十無四五焉。非死即徙爾,而吾以捕蛇獨存。悍吏之來吾鄉,叫囂乎東西,隳突乎南北;嘩然而駭者,雖雞狗不得寧焉。吾恂恂而起,視其缶,而吾蛇尚存,則弛然而臥。謹食之,時而獻焉。退而甘食其土之有,以盡吾齒。蓋一歲之犯死者二焉,其余則熙熙而樂,豈若吾鄉鄰之旦旦有是哉。今雖死乎此,比吾鄉鄰之死則已后矣,又安敢毒耶?”   

"The next door neighbors used to live with my grandfather now only one tenth of them left; with my father, two or three tenth left; with I, four or five tenth left.  Those neighbors had only one choice between death and departure.  But I could live and continue staying here merely because of my snake-catching job.  When those oppressive officials came, they were shouting and swearing everwhere, crashing and smashing everything, making people, even chickens and dogs, extremely uneasy and fearful.  During the tumult, I got up slowly with exceptional caution, checking the clay pot and making sure the snakes were still there, then lying down again in ease.  I fed the snakes cautiously and submitted them in due course, then I could come back to eat the harvest I sowed with ease till the end of my days.  I estimate that I had to take great risk twice a year in catching the snakes, but I could enjoy my life the rest days of the year, being unlike my neighbors who were living in fear of death everyday.  Even someday I was to die of snake bite, I would have outlived my neighbors.  So how could I dare harbor hatred on my job?"      

余聞而愈悲,孔子曰:“苛政猛于虎也!”吾嘗疑乎是,今以蔣氏觀之,猶信。嗚呼!孰知賦斂之毒,有甚于是蛇者乎!故為之說,以俟夫觀人風者得焉。

I felt even sadder after the woeful recounts finished.  Confuscius says, "Tyranny is more vicious than tiger!"  I used to doubt the words, but now I believe they are true from the experience of Jiang.  Alas!  Who would have ever known that the exorbitant taxes and levies are more venomous than poisonous snakes!  Therefore I write this piece of essay here, waiting for those watchdog officials to read it. 

 



 

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