Tôi ném thanh củi mục vào đống lửa mà chẳng biết có bầy kiến sống trong đó.
Thanh củi bắt đầu bén lửa lách tách, bầy kiến đổ ùa ra nhốn nháo chạy quanh trong tuyệt vọng. Chúng chạy ngược xuôi và quằn quại khi bị lửa đốt. Tôi chộp thanh củi, lăn nó về một bên. Nhiều con kiến thoát được lên cát hoặc mớ lá thông.
Nhưng lạ thay chúng không chịu chạy tránh xa đống lửa.
Vừa chế ngự được nỗi kinh hoàng, chúng đã quay lại xúm xít, và có hấp lực nào đó lôi kéo chúng trở về với quê hương chúng đã ruồng bỏ. Nhiều con kiến trèo trở lại lên thanh củi đang cháy, chạy loanh quanh và tan xác trên đó.
Trần Tuệ Minh dịch từ bản Anh ngữ “The bonfire and the ants”
The Bonfire and the Ants
I threw a rotten log onto the fire without noticing that it was alive with ants.
The log began to crackle, the ants came tumbling out and scurried around in desperation. They ran along the top and writhed as they were scorched by the flames. I gripped the log and rolled it to one side. Many of the ants then managed to escape onto the sand or the pine needles.
But, strangely enough, they did not run away from the fire.
They had no sooner overcome their terror than they turned, circled, and some kind of force drew them back to their forsaken homeland. There were many who climbed back onto the burning log, ran about on it, and perished there.
This poem is a parable which is a poem with a moral lesson at the end. This qualifies as a parable because it has a lesson.
Everyone make take this lesson differently, but I believe the lesson is you can’t live in the past, you have to move on.
Another technique used in this poem is sensory details which evoke your senses.
ants came tumbling out and scurried around in desperation.
log began to crackle
The Bonfire and the Ants discusses the behavior of ants on a log. Someone, unaware of the ants, throw a log into the fire. This person then analyzes the action the ants. At first, the ants run away afraid to die, but then they return. The narrator doesn’t understand why the ants return only to die, but I feel like that is the most interesting part of the poem. Personally, I think the ants returning to the log could be one of two things:
1. They are scared of change. They don’t want to lose their home.
2. They are naive and unaware of what will happen in they return.
These ants can represent people who are afraid of change and unaware of the consequence of their actions. We all know many people who are either scared of new things or do without thinking.
This also relates to the Gulag camps because people who are taken away from their homes might of rather been killed in their homes then taken to these awful labor camps, although many weren’t given that choice.
Through his writing, Alexander Solzhenitsyn became a very important person. He used his writing to expose the cruelty of the Soviet Union and the Gulags. While the Bonfire and the Ants was not one of his most famous poems, it still stays with the writing of his message and ties in to the Gulags.
About the Author
Solzhenitsyn was born on December 11, 1918 just six months after his father died in the war.
He was raised by his mother and attended grammar school always knowing he wanted to be a writer.
He strayed from his writing and ended up enrolling in the Department of Mathematics at Rostov University.
He then fought in World War 2, but was arrested for criticizing Stalin and spent 11 years in labor camps, 8 of those years being in the Gulag.
His writing through books and poems recount his experiences.
He went on to win a Nobel Prize in literature.