夫 が死んで8年。Francescaは67歳の誕生日を迎えました。昔からのド田舎の家に今も1人で住んでいます。毎年の儀式になったRobert Kincaidから来た手紙を読み返したところです。そして彼とのことを思い出しています。

彼との思い出:
彼をこの小説の舞台となった屋根付き橋に案内し到着し、家まで戻ってきました。冷たいお茶を出し、お互いが何をしているのかを語り合い、FrancescaはRobert Kincaidに夕食を食べて行かないかと誘い、Robert Kincaidも同意します。そして、夕食も終わり、2人は散歩に出かけます。

Ancient Evenings, Distant Music (3)

He had said it all right there in five words. Francesca had labored to explain Yeats to the Winterset students but never got through to most of them. She had picked Yeats partly because of what Kincaid had just said, thinking all of those qualities would appeal to teenagers whose glands were pounding like the high school marching band at football halftimes. But the bias against poetry they had picked up, the view of it as a product of unsteady masculinity, was too much even for Yeats to overcome.
She remembered Matthew Clark looking at the boy beside him and then forming his hands as if to cup them over a woman’s breasts when she read, “The golden apples of the sun.” They had snickered and the girls in the back row with them blushed.
They would live with those attitudes all their lives. That’s what had discouraged her, knowing that, and she felt compromised and alone, in spite of the outward friendliness of the community. Poets were not welcome here. The people of Madison County liked to say, compensating for their own self-imposed sense of cultural inferiority, “This is a good place to raise kids.” And she always felt like responding, “But is it a good place to raise adults?”


解説:

He had said it all right there in five words.
■five words :realism, economy, sensuousness(感性に訴えること), beauty, magicの5語。

Francesca had labored to explain Yeats to the Winterset students but never got through to most of them.
■get through:自分の言うことを分からせる

She had picked Yeats partly(部分的に) because of what Kincaid had just said, thinking all of those qualities would appeal to teenagers whose glands(腺、きんたま) were pounding(ドンドン鳴る) like the high school marching band at football halftimes. But the bias against poetry they had picked up(取り上げる), the view of it as a product of unsteady masculinity(男らしさ), was too much even for Yeats to overcome.

She remembered Matthew Clark looking at the boy beside him and then forming his hands as if to cup them over a woman’s breasts when she read, “The golden apples of the sun.”
■Matthew Clark:前に出てきたデートで車をぶっ飛ばしていた少年(地元のアメフトのQB)

They had snickered(くすくす笑う) and the girls in the back row with them blushed(顔を赤らめる).

They would live with those attitudes all their lives. That’s what had discouraged her, knowing that, and she felt compromised and alone, in spite of the outward friendliness of the community. Poets were not welcome here. The people of Madison County liked to say, compensating(埋め合わせする) for their own self-imposed sense of cultural inferiority(劣等), “This is a good place to raise kids.” And she always felt like responding, “But is it a good place to raise adults?”
■Madison County:ここではアイオワ州に位置する郡。 地名は第4代アメリカ合衆国大統領ジェームズ・マディソンにちなむ(Madison Countyを訪問した?。アラバマ州にもMadison Countyがあります)。2000年現在、人口は14,019人。 郡庁所在地はウィンターセット。ウインターセットはジョン・ウェインが生まれた街であり、多くの屋根付橋で有名。ナポリからやってきたFrancescaにとっては、口にこそ出さなくても、ここに住む人たちは「田舎者」だったことは容易に想像できます。