鹿城读笔(六)

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  • There are a squadron of Emersons, but I take the founder of American Orphism to be the Central Waldo, father of Walt the American Adam.
  • I interpret daemonization as the poet’s breakthrough into a highly individual counter-sublime, thus preferring possession by an inner drive to a debilitating struggle with the already said.

optative: 如意的; squadron: 队; chrestomathy: 读本; metonymy: 换喻; wryly: 挖苦; debilitate: 衰弱


ESSAYS

  • What shall wisdom be found? The poets, harboring great unwisdoms, comfort and console even when they do not enlighten. Nietzsche may have thought they kept us from perishing of the truth, Hamlet’s truth of annihilation. On that account, poetry lies against time and time’s definitive “it was.” Emerson, speaking for American hope, urged otherwise, exalting the newness.
  • For me, Emerson is the foundation of the American will to know the self and its drive for sublimity. The American poets who (to me) matter most are all Emersonians of one kine or another: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, … … Our greatest creators of prose fiction were not Emersonians, yet the protagonists of Hawthorne, Melville, and Henry James frequently are beyond your understanding if we do not see Hester Prynne, Captain Ahab, and Isabel Archer as self-reliant questers.

exalt: 捧; rueful: 怜悯的


EMILY DICKINSON

  • Tone or stance is Dickinson’s strength, as it is Whitman’s, yet Walt — an American, one of the roughs — centers his poems upon himself, as the Amherst visionary would not. Always she is self-assertive, self-reliant, self-radiant. And yet Whitmanian advertisements-for-myself are antithetical to her experiment in renunciation. Like her only American poetic rival, she is joined to what Yeats in Per Amica Silentia Lunae called “the place of the daemon”, but she enters it through another gate.
  • Melville and Dickinson (strange coupling) are the most Shakespearean of our classic American writers. Shakespeare’s capacious heart (in Hamlet’s sense of mind) provided room enough for two great imaginations so diverse that they touch at no point … … Jay Leyda, who logged both novelist and poet, remarked to me that Melville had a cinematic sense of Shakespeare, while Dickinson comprehended him lyrically.
  • I learned from “Red” Warren as I have from only a few others — Gershom Scholem, M.H. Abrams, Fredrick Pottle — a distrust of my own daemon, or, rather, the necessity of standing apart from it without repudiating the energies upon which I relied. We learned face-to-face, kindled by immediacy. Reading Dickinson yields a similar gnosis.
  • The long experience of teaching Dickinson has been sublimely exhausting: She is the most rewardingly difficult of American poets.
  • Like Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson is a dangerous influence. Between them, they can threaten to take up all the space for an American poetry of blinding originality.
  • Nietzsche’s maxim that every free spirit must unfold itself in fighting applies to her as it does to Emerson and Melville. She surpasses even the strongest of her American contemporaries in self-reliance.
  • Of the major American poets, Dickinson is the least tendentious. Like Shakespeare, she has no design upon her readers.
  • There is no formula that can encompass Dickinson: After Shakespeare’s, here is one of the most capacious poet’s consciousness in the language.

ardent: 热心; wayfaring: 行路人; slant:倾斜; octave: 八度; toil: 辛劳; demarcation: 划界; capacious: 开阔; immediacy: 直接; wistful: 怅惘; tendentious: 倾向性; salience: 突出

那里有一道斜光

我无法获取的色彩—最美

最具生命力的戏剧表演

灵魂对它自己

因为我不能停步等待死亡


III. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE and HENRY JAMES

TALES AND SKETCHES

  • Women and men in their eighties are not given to unexpected passions or violent elopements … … Each time I reread and teach “Wakerfield,” I limp through our large New England shingle house (late nineteenth century) and try to envision it occupied only by my wife. I stare at the innumerable bookcases and murmur the Stevensian tag from The Auroras of Autumn: “The house will crumble and the books will burn.”

ransack: 洗劫; ambush: 伏击; nincompoop: 笨人; elopement: 私奔

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