Robert Frost（1874－1963），20世纪美国最杰出的诗人，作品以朴素、深邃著称，庞德、艾略特、博尔赫斯、布罗茨基等大师都对之有过相当的评价。他的一生，既不幸又充满光彩：有40岁之前的坎坷曲折，后半生的寂寞孤独，又有四获普利策诗歌奖、44种名誉学位和种种荣誉。他常常被称作美国诗坛的两面神，作品和人格遭到攻击，却又始终维持一个大诗人的和蔼形象，又是诗人、农夫和哲学家的三位一体。弗罗斯特一直通过具体的实物、情景写诗，斯蒂文斯说，你爱写实物，弗罗斯特反唇相讥，你爱写古董，这其实是诗人预先选择的精神图式和写作形式，一生几乎没有多大变化。作为以自然方式关注现实的大诗人，他对世界的态度既不像华兹华斯那样充满柔情，也不像斯蒂文斯那样粗壮、强硬，而是显得矛盾、折中，和他的精神导师爱默生一样带有超验主义。他向维吉尔学写田园牧歌，向哈代、叶芝等人学习平淡而富有暗示的语言，但用意更精深，作品常常通过时空反差的形式，也就是具体情境中的变化、对比，从而形成一个个坚固封闭却又极其开放的诗歌文本，简洁地表达出存在的真相，化腐朽为神奇。他喜欢戴着面具写作，崇尚文学的游戏原则，一开始就写得朴素含蓄，第一本诗集《男孩的意愿》（1913）就显示了过人的语言才华。虽然弗罗斯特一直戴着面具写作，但我更愿意将他称为 “一位伟大的徘徊者”。他徘徊在自然和人类、自我和事物、现实和理想之间，像被上帝驱逐的天使一样平静而又苦恼地审视着尘世生活。弗罗斯特幼年丧父，中年丧妻，老年丧子，他的坎坷人生常使他在作品中流露阴暗和悲观，但他更多是想用诗歌这种崇高的艺术形式排遣存在的焦虑和慌乱。他明智而不极端，曾在一首诗中将世界比作自己的情人，于是喋喋不休的吵闹就成为他摇曳的情思和毕生的哲学追求。他非常懂得独特是什么东西。他对现代诗歌的贡献，主要在于果断地拒绝了自由诗体(free verse)的潮流，以个人的兴趣探索出结合传统的抑扬格韵律和日常生活话语、结合古典人文情怀和现代怀疑精神的新诗体 (blank verse)，看似保守，实则妙笔生花。在精神的高标和题材的深广度上，自波德莱尔以来的诗歌大师几乎无一人能和但丁相比，但弗罗斯特的探索应该说是走得最自然、最深远的，所以深受世界各国各层次读者的欢迎，在美国更是家喻户晓。弗罗斯特创作的朴素无华、寓意深刻的抒情短诗和戏剧性浓烈、艺术性高超的叙事长诗应该说经得起任何考验，无韵诗、变体十四行、双行体等各种形式的作品都有佳作，和华兹华斯一样堪称体裁大师。他自16岁写诗，一直到89岁去世，半个多世纪笔耕不辍，共出版10余本诗集，主要有《波士顿以北》(1914)，《山间》(1916)，《新罕布什尔》(1923)，《西流的小溪》(1928)，《见证树》(1942)，《林间空地》(1962)等，在美国文学史上具有独特的地位，在世界文学史上也是一颗璀璨之星。然而，弗罗斯特在中国，如同余光中所说“损失惨重”，因为日常语言性的诗歌经过翻译，精华丧失殆尽。这里选译的几十首诗，表面上是弗罗斯特各个时期的创作精华，却也极有可能仍是以讹传讹。但是，通过它们，我们大致可以感受一位天才诗人的精神世界，一种对人类、对尘世生活的个性理解。它们对于中国当代诗人的写作，应该说依然具有非常重要的借鉴意义。
□ 补 墙
Something there is that doesn"t love a wall,
That sends the frozen ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper bowlders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the bowlders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only say, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a motion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn"t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I"d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn"t love a wall,
That wants it down!” I could say “elves” to him,
But it"s not elves exactly, and I"d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness, as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father"s saying.
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
□ 柴 垛
几乎快要倒了。 我只是想 ：
Out walking in the frozen swamp one grey day
I paused and said, “I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther--and we shall see.”
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went down. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather--
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled--and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year"s snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year"s cutting,
Or even last year"s or the year"s before.
The wood was grey and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself, the labour of his axe,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.
□ 割 草
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.
Neither Out Far Nor In Deep
The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.
As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull
The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be--
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.
They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?
Stopping by Woods on a snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound"s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promise to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler,long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other,as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh,Ikept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
Idoubted if I should ever come back.
Ishall be telling this with a sgih
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood,and I--
Itook the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Here further up the mountain slope
Than there was every any hope,
My father built, enclosed a spring,
Strung chains of wall round everything,
Subdued the growth of earth to grass,
And brought our various lives to pass.
A dozen girls and boys we were.
The mountain seemed to like the stir,
And made of us a little while--
With always something in her smile.
Today she wouldn"t know our name.
(No girl"s, of course, has stayed the same.)
The mountain pushed us off her knees.
And now her lap is full of trees.
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy"s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn"t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun"s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You"d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father"s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It"s when I"m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig"s having lashed across it open.
I"d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth"s the right place for love:
I don"t know where it"s likely to go better.
I"d like to go by climbing a birch tree~
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I"ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Tree At My Window
Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.
My long two-pointed ladder"s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there"s a barrel that I didn"t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn"t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it"s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
A Minor Bird
I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.
A Brook in the City
The firm house lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear A number in.
But what about the brook
That held the house as in an elbow-crook?
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength
And impulse, having dipped a finger length
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed
A flower to try its currents where they crossed.
The meadow grass could be cemented down
From growing under pavements of a town;
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame.
Is water wood to serve a brook the same?
How else dispose of an immortal force
No longer needed? Staunch it at its source
With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was
thrown Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone
In fetid darkness still to live and run -
And all for nothing it hd ever done
Except forget to go in fear perhaps.
No one would know except for ancient maps
That such a brook ran water. But I wonder
If from its being kept forever under
The thoughts may not have risen that so keep
This new-built city from both work and sleep.
A Time to Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don"t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven"t hoed,
And shout from where I am, "What is it?
No, not as there is a time talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod:I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.