希望 - 鲁迅
Hope - Lu Xun
I am extremely lonely.
But I am at peace. There is no love or hate, no sadness or joy, and also no colors or sounds.
This is probably because I’m old. Doesn’t my hair being white prove it? Doesn’t the fact that my hands are shaking make it as clear as day? In which case, my soul’s hands must also be shaking, my soul’s hair must also be white.
But all this was a few years ago.
Before this, my heart was also filled with bloody songs: blood and iron, flames and poison, renewal and revenge. Suddenly all is empty, yet there are still times when I fill the emptiness with an unavoidable and self-deceptive hope. Hope, hope, I use hope as a shield to resist the attack of the darkness in emptiness, even though at the rear of the shield also remains emptiness’s darkness. And in this manner all of my youth was spent.
Is it possible I knew long ago my youth was already gone? But I believed that an external youth was still there: stars, moonlight, fallen butterflies, flowers in the dark, the owl’s unlucky language, the cuckoo’s bloody cries, smiles indistinct, love’s flight. Even though it was a sad and fleeting youth, it was still youth.
But how can I be this lonely now? Can it be that the external youth is gone, and that the young of the world have grown old and decrepit?
The only recourse I have is to fight tooth and nail with the emptiness’s darkness. I put down my shield of hope. I heard Sandor Petofi’s (1823-1849) song “Hope”.
What is hope? It’s a prostitute: She will seduce anyone, to give her everything; She will wait until you’ve sacrificed countless treasures-- your youth--and she will throw you out.
Already seventy-five years have passed since this great lyrical poet, a Hungarian patriot, died for his country at the tip of a Cossack soldier’s sword. What a tragic death! Yet even more tragic is that his poem has not yet died.
This cruel life! in the end even unyielding heroism like Petofi’s submits to the darkness and looks back to the endless East. He said:
Hopelessness is fabricated, exactly the same as hope.
Let’s say that I must get by in this fabrication that is neither bright nor dark, I’d still search for that lost sad, fleeting youth–there is no harm in it being only external. As soon as external youth were to be extinguished the twilight of old age will fall.
But now there are no stars or moonlight, no falling butterflies or indistinct smiles, or even love’s flight. But the young are at peace. I’m left to fight tooth and nail with the emptiness’s darkness, I have to throw off the twilight that has descended over me, even if I fail to find external youth. There are no stars now, there is no moonlight, no indistinct smiles or even love’s flight. The young are at peace, and in the end this is what is in front of me and there is no true darkness.
Hopelessness is fabricated, exactly the same as hope!
January 1st, 1925