Fog by Mao Dun ~ 茅盾 《雾》 with English Translations


茅盾 《雾》













Mao Dun

The mountain peaks directly facing the back window of my room were veiled in fog.

The names of these mountain peaks are still unknown to me. The first night when I was there I had seen the top of the highest mountain shining with lights like a precious crown set with diamond. As there was no electric light in my room, all I could do in the evening was sit quietly in the dark and fix my eyes on the midair radiance, which reminded me of the fairy tales I had read in my childhood. Indeed, the orderly array of lights shining in three indistinct tiers one above another against a background of dark mountain peaks could conjure up, without fail, visions of the ethereal.

In the daytime, however, it was all prosaic. The five or six peaks forming the front row were about the same height. The westernmost one had on top a cluster of houses while the rest were topped by nothing but trees. The highest one in the middle had on it a large piece of barren land, like the scar on a favus-infected human head.

Now, as usual, the morning fog had shut out everything completely, including the not-too-distant wire poles.

Gradually, however, the sun managed to show through the dense fog. Yet how pitifully pale it looked! And soon it disappeared altogether, leaving the white thick fog to engulf everything and shroud mother earth.
I hate the all-obliterating fog!

Of course I hate biting wind and icy snow too. But when they are compared with fog, I would rather have the former than the latter! Though biting wind and icy snow sometimes be a killer, yet they can also spur people on to greater efforts. O you fog! You plunge us into a state of depression and dejection, from which we struggle in vain to extricate ourselves as if we were bogged down in a mire.

About noon the fog turned into a fine misty rain like a curtain hanging still at the window. Some 30 feet away, a cloud of misty vapor prevailed, blotting out everything. The air was windless. Every now and then, the withered lotus stems in the pond in front of my door gave a sudden violent jerk as a red carp was seen splashing briskly out of the water to break the death-like silence.

I wonder if the red carp’s aberration was due to its impatience with the unbearably oppressive status quo. As for me, failing a bright sunshine, I would rather have a violent storm. I cannot endure the fine misty rain which came in the wake of the gloomy fog to linger like a curtain hanging still at the window.

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