The Pleasures of Ignorance

来源: 录入者:龚苑 发布时间:2017年03月31日

The Pleasures of Ignorance


It is impossible to take a walk in the country with an?average?townsman—especially, perhaps, in April or May-without being amazed at the vast continent of his ignorance. It is impossible to take a walk in the country oneself without being amazed at the vast continent of one's own ignorance. Thousands of men and women live and die without knowing the difference between a?beech?and an?elm, between the song of a?thrush?and the song of a?blackbird. Probably in a modern city the man who can?distinguish?between a?thrush's and a?blackbird's song is the?exception. It is not that we have not seen the birds. It is simply that we have not noticed them. We have been surrounded by birds all our lives, yet so feeble is our observation that many of us could not tell whether or not the?chaffinch?sings, or the colour of the cuckoo.


This ignorance, however, is not altogether miserable. Out of it we get the constant pleasure of discovery. Every fact of nature comes to us each spring, if only we are sufficiently ignorant, with thedew?still on it. If we have lived half a lifetime without having ever even seen a cuckoo, and know it only as a wandering voice, we are all the more delighted at the?spectacle?of its runaway?flight?as it hurries from wood to wood conscious of its?crimes, and at the way in which it?halts hawk-like in the wind, its long tail?quivering, before it dares descend on a hill-side of fir-trees where avenging presences may?lurk.


It would be?absurd?to pretend that the?naturalist?does not also find pleasure in observing the life of the birds, but his is a steady pleasure, almost a?sober?and?plodding?occupation, compared to the morning enthusiasm of the man who sees a cuckoo for the first time. And, as to that, the happiness even of the?naturalist?depends in some measure upon his ignorance, which still leaves him new worlds of this kind to conquer.He may have reached the very Z of knowledge in the books, but he still feels half ignorant until he has?confirmed each bright?particular?with his eyes.?Assuredly?the men of science have no reason as yet to weep over their lost ignorance. There will always be a fortune of ignorance waiting for them under every fact they turn up.


But your and my ignorance is not confined to cuckoos. It?dabbles in all created things, from the sun and moon down to the names of the flowers, including nearly everything you and I have taken for granted. One of the greatest joys known to man is to take such a?flight?into ignorance in search of knowledge. The great pleasure of ignorance is, after all, the pleasure of asking questions. The man who has lost this pleasure or?exchanged it for the pleasure of?dogma, which is the pleasure of answering, is already beginning to stiffen. Do not forget that Socrates. was famed for wisdom not because he was?omniscient?but because he realised at the age of seventy that he still knew nothing. Once more I shall see the world as a garden through the eyes of a stranger, my breath taken away with surprise by the painted fields.



1.此句是一个双重否定句,表示肯定并强调。“It is + adj. + to do sth.”是极为常见的英语句式,其中“it”作形式主语,不定式为真正的主语“continent”表示“大陆,陆地”之意,"the vase continent of his ignorance”使用了暗喻的修辞手法,把无形的"ignorance"(无知)比喻为有形的陆地,说明无知的程度。
2.英语句式“It is not that...It is that.../It is not that ...but that...”意思为“这不是说……而是说...”
3.此句表语前置,表示强调,正常语序应为“our observation is so feeble ..."。
4."if only"用于表示希望境遇有所变化,意思是“但愿,真希望”。
5.此句的句子主干为“we are delighted at the?spectacle...and at the way..."。句中连词"as”引导时间状语从句,表“当……时候”。关系代词“which”引导定语从句修饰“way”,定语从句中连词“before”引导时间状语从句,其中“where”引导定语从句修饰“fir-trees"。
6.此句中的“it"为形式主语,不定式“to pretend that..”为真正的主语。
7.情态动词“may+have done”表示对过去的猜测。许多英语书籍都按照字母顺序进行编排,所以如果某人的知识已经达到了书籍中“z"字母的位置,即指此人知识非常渊博,学识达到了顶峰
8.此句为省略“that'’的定语从句,常用搭配“take sth. for granted”表示“把某事想当然”.