West with the Night
West With The Night
I was first introduced to West with the Night by Listen to This 3, a classic listening exercise book of English, last year when I was preparing my exam. It's in lesson 22, section 3, special report, that I encountered the amazing story about a woman pilot. Her legendary adventures and beautiful words struck a chord with me and I craved for reading the whole book. It took me several months before I finally got it from BlueFountain, a online bookstore for imported books.
Now, I have finished reading this book. However, I feel that my heart is still lingering in the wonderful world without walls and hope the fascinating story will never end. Beryl Markham, the author, was a great woman, pilot, and storyteller. She lived by following her heart and dream. The brilliant book, West with the Night, is the best of its kind that I have ever read. Even Ernest Hemingway recommended it to his friend as a 'bloody wonderful book'. It's surely a book worth reading again and again and again.
A brief introduction of the author——Beryl Markham：
Beryl Markham(1902.10.26—1986.08.03), was a professional pilot,horse trainer and breeder, writer, and adventurer, best known for her memoir, West with the Night, first published in 1942 and reissued in 1983. Born in England, she went to British East Africa with her father at the age of four and became the first woman in Africa to receive a race-horse-trainer's license. She learned to fly in her late twenties and made a historic solo flight in 1936 across the North Atlantic from England to Cape Breton Island, Canada.
There are some extracts from West with the Night below.
West With The Night
Ⅰ. Message from Nungwe
The air takes me into its realm. Night envelops me entirely,leaving me out of touch with the earth, leaving me within this small moving world of my own, living in space with the stars.
The wind in the wires is like the tearing of soft silk under the blended drone of engine and propeller. Time and distance together slip smoothly past the tips of my wings without sound, without return, as I peer downward over the night-shadowed hollows of the Rift Valley and wonder if Woody, the lost pilot, could be there, a small human pinpoint of hope and of hopleless listening to the low, unconcerned song of the Avian——flying elsewhere.
Ⅳ. Why Do We Fly?
There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not the piano may have been raucous and gay. What ever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follow. It is a soundless echo.
Ⅺ. My Trail is North
I haved learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesterdays are buried deep——leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance. I have learned this, but like everyone, I learned it late.
We left before dawn, so that when the hills again took shape Njoro was gone, disappeared with the last impotent scoul of night. The farm was gone——its whirling mills, its fields and paddocks, its wagons and its roaring Dutchmen. Otieno and Toombo were gone, my new mirror, my new hut with the cedar shingles——all these were behind me, not like part of a life, but like a whole life lived and ended.
He lay behind me, buried deep by the path to the valley where we hunted. There were rocks over him that I had lifted and carried there and piled in a clumsy pyramid and left without a name or epitaph.
Rest you, Buller. No hyena that ever howled the hills nor any jackal cringing in the night will paw the rocks that mark you. There is respect for a heart like yours, and if its beating stop, the spirit lives to guard the ways you wandered.
Silence is never so impenetrable as when the whisper of steel on paper strives to pierce it. I sit in a labyrinth of solitude jabbing at its bulwarks with the point of a pen——jabbing, jabbing.
As always, my door is open. It may as well be closed——there is nothing to see but night.
ⅩⅥ. Ivory and Sansevieria
Life had a different shape; it had new branches and some of the old branches were dead. It had followed the constant pattern of discard and growth the all lives follow. Things had passed, new things had come.
ⅩⅩ. Kwaheri Means Farewell
A map in the hands of a pilot is a testimony of a man's faith in other men; it is a symbol of confidence and trust. It is not like a printed page that bears mere words, ambiguous and artful, and whose most believing reader——even whose author, perhaps——must allow in his mind a recess for doubt.
A map says to you, 'Read me carefully, follow me closely, doubt me not.' It says, 'I am the earth in the palm of your hand. Without me, you are alone and lost.'
And indeed you are. Were all the maps in this world destroyed and vanished under the direction of some malevolent hand, each man would be blind again, each city be made a stranger to the next, each landmark become a meaningless signpost pointing to nothing.
Yet, looking at it, feeling it, running a finger along its lines, it is a cold thing, a map, humourless and dull, born of calipers and draughtsman's board. That coastline there, that ragged scrawl of scarlet ink, shows neither sand nor sea nor rock; it speaks of no mariner, blundering full sail in wakeless seas, to bequeath, on sheepskin or a slab of wood, a priceless scribble to posterity. This brown blot that marks a mountain has, for the casual eye, no other significance, though twenty men, or ten, or only one, may have squandered life to climb it. Here is a valley, there a sqamp, and there a desert; and here is a river that some curious and courageous soul, like a pencil in the hand of God, first traced with bleeding feet.
Here is your map. Unfold it, follow it, then throw it away, if you will. It is only paper. It is only paper and ink, but if you think a little, if you pause a moment, you will see that these two things have seldom joined to make a document so modest and yet so full with histories of hope or sagas of conquest.
ⅩⅩⅢ. West With the Night
You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know yourself.You learn to watch other people, but you never watch yourself because you strive against loneliness. If you read a book or shuffle a deck of cards, or care for a dog, you are avoiding yourself. The abhorrence of loneliness is as natural as wanting to live at all. If it were otherwise, men would never have bothered to make an alphabet, nor to have fashioned words out of what were only animal sounds, nor to have crossed continents, each man to see what the other looked like.
Being alone in an aeroplane, for even so short a time as a night and a day, irrevocably alone, with nothing to observe but your instruments and your own hands in semi-darkness. Nothing to contemplate but the size of your small courage. Nothing to wonder about but the beliefs, the faces and hopes rooted in your mind. Such an experience can be as startling as the first awareness of a stranger walking by your side at night. You are the stranger. 引自第1页
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