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弗罗斯特:论诗的性质

(2008-04-13 20:34:45)
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文化

    对哲学家而言,“抽象”早已是老生常谈了。然而,在我们今天的艺术家手里,它倒还像是个新鲜玩意。诗歌的特质,难道我们(诗人)就不能自己定义一个吗?我们头脑里也许有,可是,如果我们不拿出来实践的话,想法就会在脑子里僵死。所以说,实际的创作才应该是我们毕生的志业。
    假设只有人文主义者才重视:一首诗的关键只在于它传达的声音。声音是矿石碓里的金子。现在,我们要把声音单独提炼出来,扬弃那些剩下的渣滓。经过这样不断的提炼,我们最终会发现:原来,写诗的目的是要让所有的诗都呈现出它们各自独特的声音;而光有元音、辅音、句读、句式、词句、格律这些资源是不够的。我们还需要借助语境-意义-主题。这才是丰富诗歌声音的利器。在辞章上能做的工夫也就这些了。格律也一样 – 特别是我们的英语,其实就两种格律,谨严的抑扬格和宽松的抑扬格。古人虽有多种可供遣用,但倘若谐调音韵全都靠格律,那还是于事无补。我们的某些格律家,有时为了让一句诗听起来不单调,竟然会把好好的一个短母音从整个音步中拿掉。如此死拽硬拗, 看了实在叫人痛心。其实,要让声音和谐,活泼泼、有意义的语调倒是能打破一般的僵硬格律,因为前者的运用范围可以说广阔无限,而后者可变化的余地却并不太多。话又说回来了,诗歌不过是另一种表达的艺术,可以有声,也可以无声。但有声的或许比较好,因为更为深刻,经验的基础也更为宽广。 
    于是,就有一个声音表达的自由度问题。让我们再假设:自由度跟声音旗鼓相当,也有资格构成诗的主要部分。如果音调是自由的,那就算诗了。接下来,我们现代抽象主义者面对的问题就是,要让这种自由变得纯粹,要自由自在,但不要杂乱无章。[在这个问题上,] 平常不守成规的我们反而会变得很乖,会任由散乱的各种丝绪牵着我们走,又会像炎热午后的蚱蜢一样,左窜右跳,漫无目标。只有诗的主题才能让我们安定下来。格律这么机械的东西怎么会产生丰富的音调,这是一个谜。同样,既要保持诗的自由度,又要完成主题的表达,这也是一个谜。 
    诗本身应该很乐意为我们来揭开谜底。诗歌创造形象。这形象始于愉悦,终于智慧。就像爱情一样,没人会真的以为那欣喜的感觉会是静止不动的。开始,它是一种愉悦的情愫,偏向于冲动。写下第一行以后,诗就有了方向。然后,便是水到渠成的一行接着一行。最后,在对生命的一点澄清中结束 — 倒未必是什么大不了的觉悟,像教派赖以建立的那种,而只是对混沌一点暂时的遏制。它有收场,有一个结局,虽然无法预见,但从最初的情绪和用来表现它的意象开始,就已经注定了 –  对,就是源自那最初的情绪。倘若意在笔先,把诗里面最精彩的部分留到最后,那么它就只不过是一首炫技的诗,完全丧失了诗味。诗一路走,一路找寻它自己的名字。最终,它会发现有绝妙的东西在等待着它,在某个伤感却又包含智慧的语句里 --  就像饮酒歌那种悲欢交集的感觉。 
    作者不含着泪写,读者就不会含着泪读。写的人既然没有惊喜,读的人绝不会觉得有趣。对我而言,那最初的愉悦就是突然间回忆起似曾相识的东西而感到的惊喜。此时此地、此情此景,好像我是从云端落下来,从地里冒出来的。先是一种久别重逢的欣喜,接着便是往事的逐一浮现。一步一步,那惊喜不断地增大。而其中最有用处的印象,好像总是那些我以前不曾意识到,也因此未加注目的。结果,我们总是像巨人一样,把过往的经历奋力扔到自己的面前,作为迈向未来的铺垫。有一天,我们去别的地方,也许正好会途经此处。路线要不是笔直笔直的,才更有意思。我们都喜欢手杖曲中有直、直中带曲。现在,用精密仪器把直的东西弄弯,在过去则是靠手和眼睛。
    我知道为什么合逻辑的自由会比紊乱的自由来得好。然而,逻辑是向后看的,它出现在事情发生之后。但诗却要像预言一样,必须是预先感知的,而不是事先就看到的。必须是一个照见,或一系列的发现,这在读者如此,在写诗的人那里也应该如此。如果诗的材料能够在诗里面活动,并且能够超越时空、先前的联系,超越除内在联系以外的一切因素,建立起新的关系,那这些材料就享有了最大程度的自由。我们总喜欢空谈什么自由。不到十六岁就不许离开学校,我们管这叫自由(免费)教育。以前的那些民主观念我现在已经不坚持了,我同意给下层阶级自由,把他们完全交给上层阶级来照应。对我来说,政治自由什么也不是。反正我左右消受不起。我想要给自己保留的只是我个人运用材料的自由 – 即当我生活中历经的一切大混乱发出召唤的时候,希望我的身心都能随时地响应。 
    学者和艺术家在一块儿,常常因为搞不清分歧究竟何在而懊恼。两者都运用知识进行工作。可是我怀疑,他们最大的不同之处在于获取知识的方式。学者沿着一连串的逻辑推理,得到严谨而全面的知识。诗人的方式则要 “潇洒”得多。书里书外都是他们获取知识的渠道。他们并不会执著在哪一点上, 而是像穿过草丛时那样,任由刺果子粘在自己身上。其实这第二类的知识,在自由不拘的机智与艺术里面更为常见。学童可以把他从学堂里学到的东西,跟你一五一十、按部就班地说出来。艺术家则是抓取时空里某一已有的因素,然后干净利落地把它放到一个全新的序列里去。
    我的这些想法,一般新青年会误以为有多大的创意。其实,倘若果真如此,恐怕我早就跟着死心塌地地鼓吹什么激进主义了。不过,我倒真盼望咱们这个国家再多些创意和闯劲。对我个人而言,一首诗,像我说的,能够“始于愉悦,终于智慧”, 这种清新的气质就算是创意了。诗的形象是跟恋爱一样的。好比火炉上放块冰,它自会逐渐消融。诗一旦写成可以修修改改,但写不出来却不能滥捶、强扭。一首诗最可贵的特质就在于:它有自己的运行轨迹,而且会带着诗人一起跑。把下面这句话读个一百遍:金属永远保有它的气味,诗也永保它的清新。惊喜中发现的意义,一旦展开就决不会消失。
      Abstraction is an old story with the philosophers, but it has been like a new toy in the hands of the artists of our day. Why can't we have any one quality of poetry we choose by itself? We can have in thought. Then it will go hard if we can't in practice. Our lives for it.   
  Granted no one but a humanist much cares how sound a poem it is only a sound. The sound is the gold in the ore. Then we will have the sound out alone and dispense with the inessential. We do til we make the discovery that the object in writing poetry is to make all poems sound as different as possible from each other, and the resources for that of vowels, consonants, punctuation, syntax, words, sentences, meter are not enough. We need the help of context -- meaning -- subject matter. That is the greatest help towards variety. All that can be done with words is soon told. So also with meters -- particularly in our language where there are virtually but two, strict iambic and loose iambic. The ancients with many were still poor if they depended on meters for all tune. It is painful to watch our sprung-rhythmists straining at the point of omitting one short from a foot for relief from
monotony. The possibilities for tune from the dramatic tones of meaning struck across the rigidity of a limited meter are endless. And we are back in poetry as merely one more art of having something to say, sound or unsound. Probably better if sound, because deeper and from wider experience.  
  Then there is this wildness whereof it is spoken. Granted again that it has an equal claim with sound to being a poem's better half. If it is a wild tune, it is a poem. Our problem then is, as modern abstractionists, to have the wildness pure; to be wild with nothing to be wild about. We bring up as aberrationists, giving way to undirected associations and kicking ourselves from one chance suggestion to another in all directions as of a hot afternoon in the life of a grasshopper. Theme alone can steady us down. Just as the first mystery was how a poem could have a tune in such a stratightness as meter, so the second mystery is how a poem can have wildness and at the same time a subject that shall be fulfilled.  
  It should be of the pleasure of a poem itself to tell how it can. The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, in inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life -- not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion. It has denouement. It has an outcome that though unforeseen was predestined from the first image of the original mood -- and indeed from the very mood. It is but a trick poem and no poem at all if the best of it was thought of first and saved for the last. It finds its own name as it goes and discovers the best waiting for it in some final phrase at once wise and sad -- the happy-sad blend of the drinking song.  
  No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew. I am in a place, in a situation, as if I had materialized from cloud or risen out of the ground. There is a glad recognition of the long lost and the rest follows. Step by step the wonder of unexpected supply keeps growing. The impressions most useful to my purpose seem always those I was unaware of and so made no note of at the time when taken, and the conclusion is come to that like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day when we may want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere. The line will have the more charm for not being mechanically straight. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days.  
  I tell how there may be a better wildness of logic than of inconsequence. But the logic is backward, in retrospect, after the act. It must be more felt than seen ahead like prophecy. It must be a revelation, or a series of revelations, as much for the poet as for the reader. For it to be that there must have been the greatest freedom of the material to move about in it and to establish relations in it regardless of time and space, previous relation, and everything but affinity. We prate of freedom. We call our schools free because we are not free to stay away from them till we are sixteen years of age. I have given up my democratic prejudices and now willingly set the lower classes free to be completely taken care of by the upper classes. Political freedom is nothing to me. I bestow it right and left. All I would keep for myself is the freedom of my material -- the condition of body and mind now and then to summons aptly from the vast chaos of all I have lived through.  
  Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately; but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields. No acquirement is on ignment, or even self-assignment. Knowledge of the second kind is much
more available in the wild free ways of wit and art. A schoolboy may be defined as one who can tell you what he knows in the order in which he learned it. The artist must value himself as he snatches a thing from some previous order in time and space into a new order with ot so much as a ligature clinging to it of the old place where it was organic.  
  More than once I should have lost my soul to radicalism if it had been the originality it was mistaken for by its young converts. Originality and initiative are what I ask for my country. For myself the originality need be no more than the freshness of a poem run in the way I have described: from delight to wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. A poem may be worked over once it is in being, but may not be worried into being. Its most precious quality will remain its having run itself and carried the poet with it. Read it a hundred times: it will forever keep its  reshness as a metal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went. 

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