[FEATURE] Lu Xun’s ๐‘Š๐‘’๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘ : Trembling Decay

Trembling Decay

by Lu Xun, translated from the Chinese into English by Matt Turner

I dreamt I was dreaming. I didnโ€™t know where I was, before my eyes, late night, the confining interior of a small hutโ€”and I could also make out a dense forest of stonecrop on the hutโ€™s roof.

On the rough-hewn table the lampshade had just been wiped clean, and the room was bright. In the glare, on the broken couch, under an unknown yet familiar hairy, fierce chunk of meatโ€”a thin body trembling from hunger pangs, shock, humiliation, and ecstasy. Yet the skin was relaxed, radiant and smooth; the pale cheeks reddened like liquid rouge over lead.

And the lamp flame also shrunk with fear, and the east was already becoming light.

A wave of hunger, suffering, shock, humiliation and ecstasy shook the sky….

A girl, about two years old, wakened by the sound of the door opening and closing, called out from a straw mat on the floor in the corner: โ€œMa!โ€

Agitated, she snapped: โ€œItโ€™s still early, go back to sleep!โ€

โ€œMa! Iโ€™m hungry, my stomach hurts, will we get anything to eat today?โ€

โ€œToday weโ€™ll have something to eat. Wait for the sesame cake seller to come, and Iโ€™ll get you some.โ€ She reassuringly held out a small piece of silver, and with her unsteady and low and sad voice approached the corner to look at her child. She picked her up, pushed the straw mat away, and moved her to the broken bed.

โ€œItโ€™s early, go back to sleep.โ€ She said this, while at the same time raising her eyes to the sky over the old, busted roof.

Another great wave suddenly rippled across the sky, colliding with the first wave, forming a vortex. It drowned everything around me along with myself, mouth and nose, and I couldnโ€™t breathe.

I moaned, and woke up. Outside the window silver moonlight shone, and it seemed that day was still far off.

I didnโ€™t know where I was, before my eyes was, late night, the confining interior of a small hutโ€”and I knew that I was continuing the broken-off dream. But now the dream came after an interval of many years. The hut was in good shape, inside and out. Inside were a young couple, and a bunch of children. They were confronting an old woman with contempt and loathing.

โ€œBecause of you we canโ€™t face the world,โ€ the man angrily said. โ€œYou still imagine you raised her, but really you ruined her. It would have been better if sheโ€™d starved to death when she was small!โ€

โ€œIโ€™ve suffered injustice after injustice all my life, because of you!โ€ said the woman.

โ€œAnd you involved me!โ€ said the man.

โ€œInvolved them, too!โ€ said the woman, pointing to the children.

The youngest was playing with a dried reed. He brandished it in the air as though it were a knife, and with a loud voice he said:

โ€œKill!โ€

The old womanโ€™s lips twitched with spasms. She suddenly seized up, and then calmed down almost instantly. She coolly stood, like a bone-thin statue. She opened the door and walked out into the deep night, leaving the abuse and the cold laughter behind her.

She walked on, into the deep night, and into the endless wilderness. All around were empty wastes, and neither insect nor bird flew in the sky above her head. She stood naked like a stone amidst the wastelands. The past flashed forth in a moment: hunger, suffering, shock, humiliation, ecstasy, and she began to tremble. Trouble, resentment, implication. She began to convulse. โ€œKill,โ€ and then she calmed down. In a moment it all came together: devotion and estrangement, caring and revenge, rearing and destruction, to bless and to curse…. Then she lifted both hands to the sky, and from her mouth escaped a wordless word: not of the human world, but both human and beast.

When she let out this wordless word, her body became as a great stone. It was already abandoned, degraded yet convulsing. The convulsions were like fish scales, each undulating like boiling water over fire, and immediately the sky trembled like the waves in a sea thrown into tempest.

Then she raised her eyes to the sky, and the wordless word fell utterly silent. But because the trembling radiated outwards, like the sun, the waves in the sky circled around. As if in a hurricane, the waves surged ahead, across the borderless wastelands.

Iโ€™d had a nightmare, and I knew this because my hands were pressing down on my chest. In my dream I strained to take those heavy hands away.

June 29, 1925

้ นๆ•—็ทš็š„้กซๅ‹•

้ญฏ่ฟ…

ๆˆ‘ๅคข่ฆ‹่‡ชๅทฑๅœจๅšๅคขใ€‚่‡ช่บซไธ็Ÿฅๆ‰€ๅœจ๏ผŒ็œผๅ‰ๅปๆœ‰ไธ€้–“ๅœจๆทฑๅคœไธญ็ฆ้–‰็š„ๅฐๅฑ‹็š„ๅ…ง้ƒจ๏ผŒไฝ†ไนŸ็œ‹่ฆ‹ๅฑ‹ไธŠ็“ฆๆพ็š„่Œ‚ๅฏ†็š„ๆฃฎๆž—ใ€‚

ๆฟๆกŒไธŠ็š„็‡ˆ็ฝฉๆ˜ฏๆ–ฐๆ‹ญ็š„๏ผŒ็…งๅพ—ๅฑ‹ๅญ่ฃๅˆ†ๅค–ๆ˜Žไบฎใ€‚ๅœจๅ…‰ๆ˜Žไธญ๏ผŒๅœจ็ ดๆฆปไธŠ๏ผŒๅœจๅˆไธ็›ธ่ญ˜็š„ๆŠซๆฏ›็š„ๅผทๆ‚็š„่‚‰ๅกŠๅบ•ไธ‹๏ผŒๆœ‰็˜ฆๅผฑๆธบๅฐ็š„่บซ่ป€๏ผŒ็‚บ้ฃข้ค“๏ผŒ่‹ฆ็—›๏ผŒ้ฉš็•ฐ๏ผŒ็พž่พฑ๏ผŒๆญกๆฌฃ่€Œ้กซๅ‹•ใ€‚ๅผ›็ทฉ๏ผŒ็„ถ่€Œๅฐšไธ”่ฑ่…ดโ‘ท็š„็šฎ่†šๅ…‰ๆฝคไบ†๏ผ›้’็™ฝ็š„ๅ…ฉ้ ฐๆณ›ๅ‡บ่ผ•็ด…๏ผŒๅฆ‚้‰›ไธŠๅก—ไบ†่ƒญ่„‚ๆฐดใ€‚

็‡ˆ็ซไนŸๅ› ้ฉšๆ‡ผ่€Œ็ธฎๅฐไบ†๏ผŒๆฑๆ–นๅทฒ็ถ“็™ผ็™ฝใ€‚

็„ถ่€Œ็ฉบไธญ้‚„็€ฐๆผซๅœฐๆ–ๅ‹•็€้ฃข้ค“๏ผŒ่‹ฆ็—›๏ผŒ้ฉš็•ฐ๏ผŒ็พž่พฑ๏ผŒๆญกๆฌฃ็š„ๆณขๆฟคโ€ฆโ€ฆใ€‚

โ€œๅชฝ๏ผโ€็ด„็•ฅๅ…ฉๆญฒ็š„ๅฅณๅญฉ่ขซ้–€็š„้–‹้—”่ฒ้ฉš้†’๏ผŒๅœจ่‰่“†ๅœ็€็š„ๅฑ‹่ง’็š„ๅœฐไธŠๅซ่ตทไพ†ไบ†ใ€‚

โ€œ้‚„ๆ—ฉๅ“ฉ๏ผŒๅ†็กไธ€ๆœƒ็ฝท๏ผโ€ๅฅน้ฉšๆƒถๅœฐ่ชฌใ€‚

โ€œๅชฝ๏ผๆˆ‘้ค“๏ผŒ่‚šๅญ็—›ใ€‚ๆˆ‘ๅ€‘ไปŠๅคฉ่ƒฝๆœ‰ไป€้บผๅƒ็š„๏ผŸโ€

โ€œๆˆ‘ๅ€‘ไปŠๅคฉๆœ‰ๅƒ็š„ไบ†ใ€‚็ญ‰ไธ€ๆœƒๆœ‰่ณฃ็‡’้ค…็š„ไพ†๏ผŒๅชฝๅฐฑ่ฒท็ตฆไฝ ใ€‚โ€ๅฅนๆฌฃๆ…ฐๅœฐๆ›ดๅŠ ็ทŠๆ็€ๆŽŒไธญ็š„ๅฐ้Š€็‰‡๏ผŒไฝŽๅพฎ็š„่ฒ้Ÿณๆ‚ฒๆถผๅœฐ็™ผๆŠ–๏ผŒ่ตฐ่ฟ‘ๅฑ‹่ง’ๅŽปไธ€็œ‹ๅฅน็š„ๅฅณๅ…’๏ผŒ็งป้–‹่‰่“†๏ผŒๆŠฑ่ตทไพ†ๆ”พๅœจ็ ดๆฆปไธŠใ€‚

โ€œ้‚„ๆ—ฉๅ“ฉ๏ผŒๅ†็กไธ€ๆœƒ็ฝทใ€‚โ€ๅฅน่ชฌ็€๏ผŒๅŒๆ™‚ๆŠฌ่ตท็œผ็›๏ผŒ็„กๅฏๅ‘Š่จดๅœฐไธ€็œ‹็ ด่ˆŠ็š„ๅฑ‹้ ‚ไปฅไธŠ็š„ๅคฉ็ฉบใ€‚

็ฉบไธญ็ช็„ถๅฆ่ตทไบ†ไธ€ๅ€‹ๅพˆๅคง็š„ๆณขๆฟค๏ผŒๅ’Œๅ…ˆๅ‰็š„็›ธๆ’žๆ“Š๏ผŒ่ฟดๆ—‹่€Œๆˆๆ—‹ๆธฆ๏ผŒๅฐ‡ไธ€ๅˆ‡ไธฆๆˆ‘็›ก่กŒๆทนๆฒ’๏ผŒๅฃ้ผป้ƒฝไธ่ƒฝๅ‘ผๅธใ€‚

ๆˆ‘ๅ‘ปๅŸ็€้†’ไพ†๏ผŒ็ช—ๅค–ๆปฟๆ˜ฏๅฆ‚้Š€็š„ๆœˆ่‰ฒ๏ผŒ้›ขๅคฉๆ˜Ž้‚„ๅพˆ้ผ้ ไผผ็š„ใ€‚

ๆˆ‘่‡ช่บซไธ็Ÿฅๆ‰€ๅœจ๏ผŒ็œผๅ‰ๅปๆœ‰ไธ€้–“ๅœจๆทฑๅคœไธญ็ฆ้–‰็š„ๅฐๅฑ‹็š„ๅ…ง้ƒจ๏ผŒๆˆ‘่‡ชๅทฑ็Ÿฅ้“ๆ˜ฏๅœจ็บŒ็€ๆฎ˜ๅคขใ€‚ๅฏๆ˜ฏๅคข็š„ๅนดไปฃ้š”ไบ†่จฑๅคšๅนดไบ†ใ€‚ๅฑ‹็š„ๅ…งๅค–ๅทฒ็ถ“้€™ๆจฃๆ•ด้ฝŠ๏ผ›่ฃ้ขๆ˜ฏ้’ๅนด็š„ๅคซๅฆป๏ผŒไธ€็พฃๅฐๅญฉๅญ๏ผŒ้ƒฝๆ€จๆจ้„™ๅคทๅœฐๅฐ็€ไธ€ๅ€‹ๅž‚่€็š„ๅฅณไบบใ€‚

โ€œๆˆ‘ๅ€‘ๆฒ’ๆœ‰่‡‰่ฆ‹ไบบ๏ผŒๅฐฑๅชๅ› ็‚บไฝ ๏ผŒโ€็”ทไบบๆฐฃๅฟฟๅœฐ่ชฌใ€‚โ€œไฝ ้‚„ไปฅ็‚บ้คŠๅคงไบ†ๅฅน๏ผŒๅ…ถๅฏฆๆญฃๆ˜ฏๅฎณ่‹ฆไบ†ๅฅน๏ผŒๅ€’ไธๅฆ‚ๅฐๆ™‚ๅ€™้ค“ๆญป็š„ๅฅฝ๏ผโ€

โ€œไฝฟๆˆ‘ๅง”ๅฑˆไธ€ไธ–็š„ๅฐฑๆ˜ฏไฝ ๏ผโ€ๅฅณ็š„่ชฌใ€‚

โ€œ้‚„่ฆๅธถ็ดฏไบ†ๆˆ‘๏ผโ€็”ท็š„่ชฌใ€‚

โ€œ้‚„่ฆๅธถ็ดฏไป–ๅ€‘ๅ“ฉ๏ผโ€ๅฅณ็š„่ชฌ๏ผŒๆŒ‡็€ๅญฉๅญๅ€‘ใ€‚

ๆœ€ๅฐ็š„ไธ€ๅ€‹ๆญฃ็Žฉ็€ไธ€็‰‡ๅนน่˜†่‘‰๏ผŒ้€™ๆ™‚ไพฟๅ‘็ฉบไธญไธ€ๆฎ๏ผŒๅฝทๅฝฟไธ€ๆŸ„้‹ผๅˆ€๏ผŒๅคง่ฒ่ชฌ้“๏ผš

โ€œๆฎบ๏ผโ€

้‚ฃๅž‚่€็š„ๅฅณไบบๅฃ่ง’ๆญฃๅœจ็—™ๆ”ฃ๏ผŒ็™ปๆ™‚ไธ€ๆ€”๏ผŒๆŽฅ็€ไพฟ้ƒฝๅนณ้œ๏ผŒไธๅคšๆ™‚ๅ€™๏ผŒๅฅนๅ†ท้œๅœฐ๏ผŒ้ชจ็ซ‹็š„็Ÿณๅƒไผผ็š„็ซ™่ตทไพ†ไบ†ใ€‚ๅฅน้–‹้–‹ๆฟ้–€๏ผŒ้‚ๆญฅๅœจๆทฑๅคœไธญ่ตฐๅ‡บ๏ผŒ้บๆฃ„ไบ†่ƒŒๅพŒไธ€ๅˆ‡็š„ๅ†ท็ฝตๅ’Œๆฏ’็ฌ‘ใ€‚

ๅฅนๅœจๆทฑๅคœไธญ็›ก่ตฐ๏ผŒไธ€็›ด่ตฐๅˆฐ็„ก้‚Š็š„่’้‡Ž๏ผ›ๅ››้ข้ƒฝๆ˜ฏ่’้‡Ž๏ผŒ้ ญไธŠๅชๆœ‰้ซ˜ๅคฉ๏ผŒไธฆ็„กไธ€ๅ€‹่Ÿฒ้ณฅ้ฃ›้Žใ€‚ๅฅน่ตค่บซ้œฒ้ซ”ๅœฐ๏ผŒ็Ÿณๅƒไผผ็š„็ซ™ๅœจ่’้‡Ž็š„ไธญๅคฎ๏ผŒๆ–ผไธ€ๅ‰Ž้‚ฃ้–“็…ง่ฆ‹้Žๅพ€็š„ไธ€ๅˆ‡๏ผš้ฃข้ค“๏ผŒ่‹ฆ็—›๏ผŒ้ฉš็•ฐ๏ผŒ็พž่พฑ๏ผŒๆญกๆฌฃ๏ผŒๆ–ผๆ˜ฏ็™ผๆŠ–๏ผ›ๅฎณ่‹ฆ๏ผŒๅง”ๅฑˆ๏ผŒๅธถ็ดฏ๏ผŒๆ–ผๆ˜ฏ็—™ๆ”ฃ๏ผ›ๆฎบ๏ผŒๆ–ผๆ˜ฏๅนณ้œใ€‚โ€ฆโ€ฆๅˆๆ–ผไธ€ๅ‰Ž้‚ฃ้–“ๅฐ‡ไธ€ๅˆ‡ไฝตๅˆ๏ผš็œทๅฟต่ˆ‡ๆฑบ็ต•๏ผŒๆ„›ๆ’ซ่ˆ‡ๅพฉไป‡๏ผŒ้คŠ่‚ฒ่ˆ‡ๆฎฒ้™ค๏ผŒ็ฅ็ฆ่ˆ‡ๅ’’่ฉ›โ€ฆโ€ฆใ€‚ๅฅนๆ–ผๆ˜ฏ่ˆ‰ๅ…ฉๆ‰‹ๅ„˜้‡ๅ‘ๅคฉ๏ผŒๅฃๅ”‡้–“ๆผๅ‡บไบบ่ˆ‡็ธ็š„๏ผŒ้žไบบ้–“ๆ‰€ๆœ‰๏ผŒๆ‰€ไปฅ็„ก่ฉž็š„่จ€่ชžใ€‚

็•ถๅฅน่ชฌๅ‡บ็„ก่ฉž็š„่จ€่ชžๆ™‚๏ผŒๅฅน้‚ฃๅ‰ๅคงๅฆ‚็Ÿณๅƒ๏ผŒ็„ถ่€Œๅทฒ็ถ“่’ๅปข็š„๏ผŒ้ นๆ•—็š„่บซ่ป€็š„ๅ…จ้ข้ƒฝ้กซๅ‹•ไบ†ใ€‚้€™้กซๅ‹•้ปž้ปžๅฆ‚้ญš้ฑ—๏ผŒๆฏไธ€้ฑ—้ƒฝ่ตทไผๅฆ‚ๆฒธๆฐดๅœจ็ƒˆ็ซไธŠ๏ผ›็ฉบไธญไนŸๅณๅˆปไธ€ๅŒๆŒฏ้กซ๏ผŒๅฝทๅฝฟๆšด้ขจ้›จไธญ็š„่’ๆตท็š„ๆณขๆฟคใ€‚

ๅฅนๆ–ผๆ˜ฏๆŠฌ่ตท็œผ็›ๅ‘็€ๅคฉ็ฉบ๏ผŒไธฆ็„ก่ฉž็š„่จ€่ชžไนŸๆฒ‰้ป˜็›ก็ต•๏ผŒๆƒŸๆœ‰้กซๅ‹•๏ผŒ่ผปๅฐ„่‹ฅๅคช้™ฝๅ…‰๏ผŒไฝฟ็ฉบไธญ็š„ๆณขๆฟค็ซ‹ๅˆป่ฟดๆ—‹๏ผŒๅฆ‚้ญ้ขถ้ขจ๏ผŒๆดถๆนงๅฅ”้จฐๆ–ผ็„ก้‚Š็š„่’้‡Žใ€‚

ๆˆ‘ๅคข้ญ˜ไบ†๏ผŒ่‡ชๅทฑๅป็Ÿฅ้“ๆ˜ฏๅ› ็‚บๅฐ‡ๆ‰‹ๆ“ฑๅœจ่ƒธ่„ฏไธŠไบ†็š„็ทฃๆ•…๏ผ›ๆˆ‘ๅคขไธญ้‚„็”จ็›กๅนณ็”Ÿไน‹ๅŠ›๏ผŒ่ฆๅฐ‡้€™ๅๅˆ†ๆฒ‰้‡็š„ๆ‰‹็งป้–‹ใ€‚

ไธ€ไนไบŒไบ”ๅนดๅ…ญๆœˆไบŒๅไนๆ—ฅ

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Matt Turner is the author of the full poetry collections Slab Pases (BlazeVox, 2022), Wave 9: Collages (Flying Islands, 2020) and Not Moving (Broken Sleep, 2019), in addition to the prose chapbooks City/Anti-City (Vitamin, 2022) and Be Your Dog (Economy, 2022). He is co-translator, with Weng Haiying, of work by Yan Jun, Ou Ning, Hu Jiujiu and others. He lives in New York City, where he works as a translator and copy editor.

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