鹿城读笔(十七)

通常来说,一本非虚构类作品读到三分之二处,所需的养分就吸收的差不多了——至少我是这样。这个时候,读者的惰性会在与作者的立意的较量中渐渐开始占据上风,把剩余的三分之一读完,难免有种让结局圆满的强迫症在作祟。《The Daemon Knows》的最后一位是哈特·克莱恩,布鲁姆最钟爱的美国作家之一,全书第二长的个人篇幅也在于此。我有意把这一段落搁置下来,等到对前文有更深的理解之后再去读。回到前面提到的说法,如果把读书比作沿着一条大河顺流而下,那么这条河的下游阶段在冲开宽广的平原的同时,也逐渐分叉形成一条条支流,彼此间的联系不再那么紧密。我想,这也是因为我们读者的想法逐渐与作者的本意开始交织,互搏,思路也因而愈发自信,分散。

这应是有某种事物发展的普遍规律在主导着。且不提文学,绘画等各艺术门类的发展,从经典到现代,这只看不见的手从握拳到张开,也正像一株枝叶不断延伸的大树一样,从一枝独秀到郁郁葱葱。布鲁姆在书中,也不止一次提到了这时间和事物发展本身的无形力量。在比较两位诗人史蒂文斯和 T.S.艾略特的时候他说,When I was younger, this difference between Stevens and Eliot seemed temperamental and a question of taste. In old age, it becomes a question of remaining time, since I teach, read, and write now against the clock. 史蒂文斯和惠特曼一样,经常把死亡和不朽作为诗歌的主题,八十四岁的布鲁姆尤其喜欢他在生命最后二十年所写的作品,想必这背后也是时间和年华的力量。

史蒂文斯的诗歌是高深的,布鲁姆说自从1955年第一次讲授他以来,每一年都会在和学生的讨论中得到新的感受和收获。和弗罗斯特不一样,史蒂文斯的作品以长诗居多,而布鲁姆也认为,跟短诗相比,长诗在时光长河里的每一次洗涤都更会焕发出新的光泽。对《秋天的极光》,他这样说,I recite the poem frequently to myself, either silently or aloud, depending on whether I am alone. Possession by memory changes your relation to a poem, longer poem in particular. A sense comes of being inside The Auroras of Autumn, of internalizing its drama within the self.

史蒂文斯在他六十八岁的时候创作了《秋天的极光》,这首诗的开头出奇得冷静和克制,布鲁姆认为全诗中的紧张和由年老而带来的迫切感都被有意压制住了,因而凸显出一种张力,难怪每年读它的时候都会提炼出新的情绪和灵感,也像布鲁姆自己说的 Live with Stevens’s poetry long enough and you can get a sense of somehow dwelling inside particular poems. 全诗是以“这是……”来开头的:

This is where the serpent lives, the bodiless / His head is air. Beneath his tip at night / Eyes open and fix on us in every sky.

Or is this another wriggling out of the egg / Another image at the end of the cave / Another bodiless for the body’s slough?

This is where the serpent lives. This is his nest / These fields, these hills, these tinted distances / And the pines above and along and beside the sea.

与惠特曼不同的是,史蒂文斯的诗中很少出现“我”字,在需要 “I” 的地方他通常代以 “one“,但这也形成了史蒂文斯诗中独特的自我观念。他生前是一直在康州哈特福德的一家保险公司工作,写诗只是他下班后的“副业”和个人兴趣。也有人说他有一段完整但并不美好的婚姻,因此诗歌中的他更是以自己一个人的姿态出现。布鲁姆说,In a curious way, Stevens was what Goethe asserted himself to be: “the genius of happiness and astonishment.” … … No one else in American poetic tradition, Whitman and Dickinson included, expresses so well that solitary and inward glory few of us can share with others.

理解了这一点,也就可以进一步体会史蒂文斯诗歌与惠特曼之间的微妙关系。后者的生命观,生死观是宏大的,包容万物的,同样也是接近你和我的,而史蒂文斯则稍稍收起了这番太过张扬的宏大,以另一种其实并不逊于甚至某种程度上更优于惠特曼表现力的方式来歌唱自我,歌唱崇高,歌唱作者所谓的 Daemon。布鲁姆在这里援引了一首《致罗马的一位老哲学家》,它是史蒂文斯写给西班牙裔美国哲学家-诗人乔治·桑塔亚那的(哲学家一年后去世,诗人也三年后逝世),他说,it refines the American elegiac mode that Whitman invented in The Sleepers and the Sea-Drift dirges and then perfected in his Lilacs threnody for Abraham Lincoln. The Whitmanian accents haunt Stevens’s poem, though their daemonic enlargements are tempered by Stevens’s wariness of engulfment by a precursor who seems always in the American sunrise. 在这首诗的中段,你能够清楚地读到这种个人身上的光芒:

The bed, the books, the chair, the moving nuns / The candle as it evades the sight, these are / The sources of happiness in the shape of Rome / A shape within the ancient circles of shapes / And these beneath the shadow of a shape

In a confusion on bed and books, a portent / On the chair, a moving transparence on the nuns / A light on the candle tearing against the wick / To join a hovering excellence, to escape / From fire and be part only of that of which

Fire is the symbol: the celestial possible / Speak to your pillow as is it was yourself / Be orator but with an accurate tongue / And without eloquence, O, half-asleep / Of the pity that is the memorial of this room.

最后一句,在半梦半醒中,用毫不夸大而精确的语言,去诉说这个房间的记忆和遗憾。结合上前面的蜡烛意象,一位暮年老者戚戚悲凉然而又无比睿智高大的形象立即浮现在眼前了。八十四岁的布鲁姆在此刻读到七十二岁的史蒂文斯写给八十七岁的桑塔亚那的诗句,心里的波澜一定是溢于言表。

布鲁姆在书里还全文讲解了另一首著名的挽诗《石棺里的猫头鹰》,史蒂文斯在最后告诉世人,“这是现代死亡的神话”,“这是死亡自身的最高影像”,而“这”究竟是什么呢?诗人在结尾处写道:

It is a child that sings itself to sleep / The mind, among the creatures that it makes / The people, those by which it lives and dies.

死生亦大矣。我们尚不知老之将至,远未到真正参透生死的年龄。惠特曼诗中,死亡是母亲,是大海,而在这里,一位七十岁的老者将她比作孩童,我相信是要付出更多伤怀和勇气的。

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.