鹿城读笔(十六)

翻开二十世纪的篇章,你会读着读着发现作者本人和书中的主角们开始有了不经意间的交集。一九四九年,十九岁的哈罗德·布鲁姆第一次来到纽黑文和耶鲁大学,在那里他第一次也是唯一一次见到了诗人华莱士·史蒂文斯。那是一次小规模的诗歌朗诵会,年已七旬的史蒂文斯读的是 An Ordinary Evening in New Haven 选段,之后的酒会上他们两人还有过一段短暂的交谈,准确地说是史蒂文斯在早已慌措失神的布鲁姆面前讲了足足二十分钟雪莱。

布鲁姆也见过弗罗斯特两次。那是在他三十岁的时候,而罗伯特·弗罗斯特已经八十六岁,风烛残年。老人的出现让当时正在授课的布鲁姆既敬畏又不安。弗罗斯特还做了一个简短的演讲,他提到四位他最景仰的美国人:华盛顿,杰斐逊,林肯,和爱默生。是的,三位总统和一位文学家。而布鲁姆在讲弗罗斯特的篇幅中,提及最多的也正是爱默生。

相信我们认识弗罗斯特也是在课堂上。如果对初中语文课本还有印象,我们应该还会记得弗罗斯特有一首诗叫《未选择的路》,与普希金的《假如生活欺骗了你》一同并列在一篇选学课文中。诗句中具体是什么实在记不起了,我也不觉得当时对它有什么特别的感觉,很平实,没有那般刻意保持着距离的深沉。而事实证明这也正是弗罗斯特在大部分人眼中的形象。

前文介绍过的惠特曼,艾米丽·狄金森,无疑都是璀璨的星辰,他们诗句中直抵人心的力量和感召力都会让人在第一次阅读的时候就眼前一亮。弗罗斯特则完完全全是另一类诗人。你在读他的时候,并没有感到如同惠特曼那样好像他在朝你的方向走来,也不会像狄金森似的隐约在不远处有个冷若冰霜的女子吸引着你的目光,弗罗斯特就静静地朝着你看着他的方向缓步离去,消失在“未选择的路”里。弗罗斯特自己也说,I owe more to Emerson than anyone else for troubled thoughts about freedom. Freedom is nothing but departure.

布鲁姆一上来介绍的是弗罗斯特在大萧条时期所作的《泥泞时节的两个流浪工》。开头的第二节是这样写的:

Good blocks of oak it was I split / As large around as the chopping block / And every piece I squarely hit / Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.

The blows that a life of self-control / Spares to strike for the common good / That day, giving a loose to my soul / I spent on the unimportant wood.

这就是弗罗斯特,很低调,也似懂非懂地在喃喃自语。“我那天只是劈着渺小的木柴,为了灵魂的解放”。布鲁姆自己也说不清楚,这劈木柴和“公共事业”和“灵魂的解放”到底有什么直接关系。在这首《泥泞时节的两个流浪工》里,弗罗斯特通过劈柴延伸到了兴趣和需求的不可兼得,也表达了自己想要将两者结合在一起的美好愿望。是的,只是美好愿望,而不是决然的欢呼和呐喊。

弗罗斯特的诗中会超出寻常比例地堆叠各种意象,在让人摸不着头脑的同时却又悄悄地把主题塞到其中几句中间,这种缺失了某种精巧的手法也恰恰去除了多余的粉饰,全诗因此而有种神秘而独特的魅力。布鲁姆引用了一段大卫·布罗姆维奇的评述:It may help at first to think of Frost’s poem as a kind of riddle. At some level he knew all along that he was occupied with another version of Wordsworth’s poem, but part of his “fooling” with the reader was to withhold his definitive clue until the middle of the poem, when many other pieces had fallen into place.

布鲁姆所指的弗罗斯特与爱默生的相像之处,在于他们的命运观。爱默生曾说,The originals are not original. 这里所指的是人类在争取自由的过程中对自身命运的态度。布鲁姆说,For both Emerson and Frost, the pre-Socratic formula held: Ethos is the daemon, character is fate, so everything that happens to you is what you always were and are … … There are no accidents; love your fate, because there is little alternative, if any. 弗罗斯特的诗句里的确能读到这种类似“宿命”的感受,而这与惠特曼和狄金森的诗歌是大为不同的。比如这首《鸟儿的歌唱再也不似从前》,它是一首十四行诗,这里只引用后十句:

Her tone of meaning but without the words / Admittedly an eloquence so soft / Could only have had an influence on birds / When call or laughter carried it aloft.

Be that as may be, she was in their song / Moreever her voice upon their voices crossed / Had now persisted in the woods so long / That probably it would never be lost.

Never again would birds’ song be the same / And to do that to birds was why she came.

一言以蔽之,在惠特曼和狄金森的诗句里你是看不到这么多 “may be” 和 “probably” 的。而这种语言上的歧义和矛盾的姿态,也正是弗罗斯特命运观的最好写照。Frost … … accepts again what happens as the working out of character into event, of choice fated and loved as such, without regrets. Frost’s largeness is not so much in the enigma of his reservations as in his full acceptance of contingencies so far within us as to hedge any drive toward freeing choice.

还有不得不提也是布鲁姆认为弗罗斯特身上最有意思的一点,即他诗中反复出现的“白色”意象。在我看来这指的是那神秘却又晃眼的事物的本来面目,也是布鲁姆反复说到的 the Lucretian way things are,而有些吊诡的是,这难以名状的“空白”或“白色”,其实也正是我们双眼和内心的化身。Frost knows, with Emerson, that the ruin or blank we see when we look upon nature is in our own eyes. 这种“空白”或“白色”,在很多其他文学作品中都能看到,梅尔维尔《白鲸》中伊什梅尔对“恐怖的白色”的思考,艾米丽·狄金森诗中借“空白”作比消逝的爱人,放弃,和死亡,史蒂文斯的名作《秋天的极光》,诗人走在黄昏时分的沙滩上,极光下眼前全部化成了“白色”。弗罗斯特在那首神秘的《只一次,便成真》里面,在我看来也十分轻盈并恰到好处地把这“白色”与事物的本质以及我们双眼中似真似幻的影像捏合在一起,别有一番深邃和趣味:

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs / Always wrong to the light, so never seeing / Deeper down in the well than where the water / Gives me back in a shining surface picture

Me myself in the summer heaven godlike / Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs / Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb / I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture

Through the picture, a something white, uncertain / Something more of the depths – and then I lost it / Water came to rebuke the too clear water / One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple / Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom

Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness? / Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

看来,“白色”既不完全是抽象的“真实”,也不是具体的“一片石英”,而是一种更为不可确知但我们又有机会亲眼所见(只一次)的“某物”。如果我们把这“某物”与弗罗斯特所诗化的命运的偶然性,以及他诗中大量实物意象背后巧藏的几分蕴意联想在一起,一定会不再那么困惑。就好比布鲁姆最喜欢的《指路》结尾处说的那样:

Here are your waters and your watering place / Drink and be whole again beyond any confusion.

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