弥尔顿

刘皓明:瞽者的内明:弥尔顿

Vision of the Blind

John Milton. Works. Ed. Frank Allen Patterson. In 7 vols. NY: Columbia U.P., 1931-38.

1658年,约翰·弥尔顿失明已有六年了。就在这一年,弥尔顿某夜梦有所感,梦见了两年前死于难产的第二任妻子凯瑟琳(Catherine Woodcock)。这个梦成为一个契机,令弥尔顿写下了英国诗史中最著名的一首悼亡诗(Sonnet XXIII, “On His Deceased Wife”):

Methought I saw my late espoused Saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave
Whom Joves great son to her glad Husband gave,
Rescu’d from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was vail’d, yet to my fancied sight,
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin’d
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O as to embrace me she enclin’d
I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.

我想我看到了我新故的结缡圣徒
像阿尔克提那样自坟中领回给我,
犹夫之子将她还给她欣喜的夫君,
以强力从死中救出,尽管虚弱苍白。
我那一位,既已洗净了产床的玷污,
确已由旧的律法里的湔祓拯救了,
而这样一来我便能够再一次信期
在天国里无拘无忌地充分瞻视她
衣以纯白走来,纯洁有如她的心灵。
她的脸遮罩;可于我想象里的目中
爱、甜美、和善良全都闪耀在她身上,
这般明晰,没有哪个面庞更多喜色,
可是,哦!正当她想要拥抱我的一刻,
我醒来,她遁去,白日带回我的黑夜。

即使经过翻译,即使不了解阿尔克提等典故,这首商籁诗(sonnet)的力量依然是显而易见的。诗虽是为悼亡而作,但诗人丧明的处境却极大加强了丧妻的悲情。弥尔顿在两年前(1656年)娶凯瑟琳为妻时,已经双目失明了;所以他始终没有看见过凯瑟琳的模样,于是诗中才会说“她的脸遮罩”。[1]但是在梦中,诗人毕竟看见了“她衣以纯白走来”,而后当黑夜与与之俱来的梦境逝去、白昼来临时,对于失明的诗人来说,真正的黑夜又重返了。“白日带回我的黑夜”这样悖论式的句子实在使诗人心中的内明与肉眼的丧明之间的关系戏剧化了。在许多方面,这首诗预期了诗人近十年之后(1666年)完成的《失乐园》(Paradise Lost)中的许多段落。