Moonlight cascaded like water over the lotus leaves and flowers, and a light blue mist floating up from the pool made them seem washed in milk or caught in a gauzy dream. Though the moon was full, a film of pale clouds in the sky would not allow its rays to shine through brightly; but I felt this was all to the good - though refreshing sleep is indispensable, short naps have a charm all their own. As the moon shone from behind them, the dense trees on the hills threw checkered shadows, dark forms loomed like devils, and the sparse, graceful shadows of willows seemed painted on the lotus leaves. The moonlight on the pool was not uniform, but light and shadow made up a harmonious rhythm like a beautiful tune played on a violin.

月光如流水一般,静静地泻在这一片叶子和花上。薄薄的青雾浮起在荷塘里。叶子和花仿佛在牛乳中洗过一样;又像笼着轻纱的梦。虽然是满月,天上却有一层淡淡的云,所以不能朗照;但我以为这恰是到了好处——酣眠固不可少,小睡也别有风味的。月光是隔了树照过来的,高处丛生的灌木,落下参差的斑驳的黑影,峭楞楞如鬼一般;弯弯的杨柳的稀疏的倩影,却又像是画在荷叶上。塘中的月色并不均匀;但光与影有着和谐的旋律,如梵婀玲上奏着的名曲。


Far and near, high and low around the pool were trees, most of them willows. These trees had the pool entirely hemmed in, the only small clearings left being those by the path, apparently intended for the moon. All the trees were somber as dense smoke, but among them you could make out the luxuriant willows, while faintly above the tree-tops loomed distant hills - their general outline only. And between the trees appeared one or two street lamps, listless as the eyes of someone drowsy. The liveliest sounds at this hour were the cicadas chirruping on the trees and the frogs croaking in the pool; but this animation was theirs alone, I had no part in it.

荷塘的四面,远远近近,高高低低都是树,而杨柳最多。这些树将一片荷塘重重围住;只在小路一旁,漏着几段空隙,像是特为月光留下的。树色一例是阴阴的,乍看像一团烟雾;但杨柳的丰姿,便在烟雾里也辨得出。树梢上隐隐约约的是一带远山,只有些大意罢了。树缝里也漏着一两点路灯光,没精打采的,是渴睡人的眼。这时候最热闹的,要数树上的蝉声与水里的蛙声;但热闹是它们的,我什么也没有。

Then lotus-gathering flashed into my mind. This was an old custom south of the Yangtse, which apparently originated very early and was most popular in the period of the Six Kingdoms,* as we see from the songs of the time. The lotus were picked by girls in small boats, who sang haunting songs as they padded. They turned out in force, we may be sure, and there were spectators too, for that was a cheerful festival and a romantic one. We have a good account of it in a poem by Emperor Yuan of the Liang dynasty called Lotus Gatherers:

忽然想起采莲的事情来了。采莲是江南的旧俗,似乎很早就有,而六朝时为盛;从诗歌里可以约略知道。采莲的是少年的女子,她们是荡着小船,唱着艳歌去的。采莲人不用说很多,还有看采莲的人。那是一个热闹的季节,也是一个风流的季节。梁元帝《采莲赋》里说得好: