与妻书(清 林觉民) The Last Letter to My Wife –-by Lin Juemin

意映卿卿如晤:吾今以此书与汝永别矣!吾作此书时,尚是世中一人;汝看此书时,吾已成为阴间一鬼。

My beloved Yiying,

I hereby say goodbye to you, never to return. While writing this letter, I still belong to this world, but by the time you read it, I will have been transferred to the hell.

吾作此书,泪珠和笔墨齐下,不能竟书而欲搁笔,又恐汝不察吾衷,谓吾忍舍汝而死,谓吾不知汝之不欲吾死也,故遂忍悲为汝言之。

When composing this message, I get so sad that tears mix with ink on the piece of paper. Unable to finish it, I feel tempted to put the pen aside. Then on second thought, I am afraid that you may fail to grasp my intention. That is, you are likely to misunderstand that I am not only ruthless enough to leave you behind but also oblivious to your insistence that I must not end my life. Therefore, repressing my sadness, I go on explaining the reason to you.

吾至爱汝,即此爱汝一念,使吾勇于就死也。吾自遇汝以来,常愿天下有情人都成眷属;然遍地腥膻,满街狼犬,称心快意,几家能彀? 司马春衫,吾不能学太上之忘情也。语云:仁者【老吾老以及人之老,幼吾幼以及人之幼。】吾充吾爱汝之心,助天下人爱其所爱,所以敢先汝而死,不顾汝也,汝 体吾此心,于啼泣之余,亦以天下人为念,当亦乐牺牲吾身与汝身之福利,为天下人谋永福也。汝其勿悲!

I love you with all my heart. It is thanks to my deep affection for you that I pluck up my courage to face death. Since our first contact, I have always hoped that all the sincere couples in this world will be tied by marriage. Nevertheless, as the present world is full of disgusting smell and fierce beasts, how many of them can be said to be blissful? Like Bai Juyi, who was depressed by the unfair treatment he had suffered, I am not so cool-headed as Heaven that I can overlook compassion. As mentioned in one of the classics, the kind person respects all the seniors and also cherishes all the children, whether they are related to him by blood. Encouraged by my passion for you, I am determined to help human beings love their beloved ones. For this reason, I dare to embrace death sooner than you, deserting you heartlessly. Supposing you get into my heart and soul, you are bound to take all our fellow countrymen into consideration even though you may be full of sorrow. In this way, you may be happy that we stand up for the everlasting welfare of all mankind at the cost of our own. With this in mind, you have good reason not to be saddened.

汝忆否?四五年前某夕,吾尝语曰:【与使吾先死也,无宁汝先吾而死。】汝初闻言而怒,后经吾婉解,虽不谓吾言为是,而亦无词相答。

Do you remember I had a significant conversation with you one night about four years ago? On that occasion, I said, "If I have to make a choice, I would rather die later than you." On hearing this, you flew into a temper. After listening to my patient clarifications, you still disagreed with me but found no suitable words to refute me.

吾之意盖谓以汝之弱,必不能禁失吾之悲,吾先死留苦与汝,吾心不忍,故宁请汝先死,吾担悲也。嗟夫!谁知吾卒先汝而死乎?吾真真不能忘汝也!

My main point is that you are too feeble to bear the loss of me. How dare I die earlier than you and leave the unbearable sorrow to you? Thus, I would rather mourn your death than let you mourn mine. Oh, how heartbreaking! Who can foretell that I am to die sooner than you? Needless to say, I cherish you more than anything else.

回忆后街之屋,入门穿廊,过前后厅,又三四折,有小厅,厅旁一室,为吾与汝双栖之所。初婚三四个月,适冬之望日前后,窗外疏梅筛月影,依稀掩映;吾与汝并肩携手,低低切切,何事不语?何情不诉?及今思之,空余泪痕。

Now my memory goes back to our house, which is situated on the hind lane and forms a part of a huge housing complex. After entering the gate and walking on the hallways, one may pass by the antechamber and hind chamber. Taking three or four turns, one will see a small living room. Next to the living room is our nest of love. Some four months after our marriage, roughly on December 22nd, the moonlight peered through the sparsely-planted plum trees near the window, painting the ground with bright and dark spots. I strolled with you hand in hand in the garden, exchanging all sorts of views and revealing all the secrets in our hearts to each other. Thinking of the warm incidents is now making me tearful.

又回忆六七年前,吾之逃家复归也,汝泣告我:【望今后有远行,必以告妾,妾愿随君行。】吾亦既许汝矣。前十余日回家,即欲乘便以此行之事语汝,及与汝相对,又不能启口,且以汝之有身也,更恐不胜悲,故惟日日呼酒买醉。嗟夫!当时余心之悲,盖不能以寸管形容之。

Another thing which happened six or seven years ago comes back into my mind. Then I returned home after getting away. As soon as you saw me, you wailed, saying, “If you ever have to leave home again, be sure to take me with you." And I agreed. Last time when I was home, more than ten days ago, I intended to have told you about this mission, but when you were in my presence, my tongue failed me. Moreover, as you were with child again, I held my tongue lest you should be overwhelmed with grief. What I could do then was drink myself to unconsciousness day after day. Oh! My sorrow was beyond description in that period of time.

吾诚愿与汝相守以死,第以今日事势观之,天灾可以死,盗贼可以死,瓜分之日可以死,奸官污吏虐民可以死,吾辈处今日之中国,国中无地无时不可以死,到那时使吾眼睁睁看汝死,或使汝眼睁睁看我死,吾能之乎?抑汝能之乎?

I really desire to to keep you company until we both die a natural death. However, in terms of the current situation, everyone is liable to die of natural disaster, robbery, foreign occupation, or corrupted officials' persecution. As miserable Chinese of the present, we are compelled to die anywhere and anytime. With our final days imposed upon us, can I bear to see you perish before my eyes, or can you take a similar act?

即可不死,而離散不相 見,徒使兩地眼成穿而骨化石;試問古來幾曾見破鏡重圓?則較死尤苦也。將奈之何!今日吾與汝幸雙健,天下之人,不當死而死,與不願離而離者,不可數計;鍾 情如我輩者,能忍之乎?此吾所以敢率性就死,不顧汝也。
吾今日死無餘憾,國事成不成,自有同志者在。依新已五歲,轉眼成人,汝其善撫之,使之肖我。汝腹中之物,吾疑其女也;女必像汝,吾心甚慰;或又是男,則亦教其以父志為志,則我死後,尚有兩意洞在也。甚幸!甚幸!
吾家日後當甚貧;貧無所苦,清靜過日而已。吾今與汝無言矣。吾居九泉之下,遙聞汝哭聲,當哭相和也。吾平日不信有鬼,今則又望其真有;今人又言心電感應有道,吾亦望其言是實;則吾之死,吾靈尚依依汝旁也,汝不必以無侶悲!
吾愛汝至。汝幸而偶我,又何不幸而生今日之中國!吾幸而得汝,又何不幸而生今日之中國!卒不忍獨善其身。嗟乎!紙短情長,所未盡者尚有幾萬千,汝可以模擬得之。吾今不能見汝矣。汝不能舍我,其時時於夢中得我乎!一慟! 
辛亥三月二十六夜四鼓意洞手書