給我一坨土 我便能生根 ──苦行詩人周夢蝶

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2010 / 7月

文‧陳紅旭 圖‧陳文發


在路上遇見「周公」周夢蝶,永遠是令人熟悉的身影。

不論春夏秋冬,他總是一頂呢帽、一襲長袍、一把長傘如影隨形,只有厚薄差異而已;背著的大包包中必定有書報雜誌,從五十多歲禮佛習禪後,如此裝扮已三十餘年了。雖身形單薄卻一點不老態龍鍾,周夢蝶從來不急,步伐輕盈而緩,一如他的詩路,慢慢醞釀,醍醐而有味。


不少朋友讚美周夢蝶穿長袍「很飄逸,很好看」,像已故詩人梅新送他一件長袍時說:「這樣的衣服適合你這樣的人穿,而你這樣的人就適合穿這樣的衣服。」一年四季,周公僅5件薄厚不一的長袍,就解決了穿著大事。

退休獨居的周公,一向過著極簡生活,近年身形更加瘦弱。去年文壇為周公90大壽暖壽時,場面盛大而溫馨,周公只對喜歡逗他的張拓蕪微笑以對,多半時間僅靜靜地坐著。拓老與蝶老年年同過生日,已是多年慣例。

身為「孤獨國」國王的詩人周夢蝶,曾榮獲首屆國家文藝獎,在台灣現代詩壇,周公具啟蒙與指標性地位,至今他仍創作不輟,詩心如泉汩汩不竭,持續筆耕文學夢田。

詩人不只憂己,更憂國憂民,以詩人的溫度,豈能無感於世事之不平不義,終至贈詩馬英九總統〈九行二首〉詩作,詩云:「誰能使已成熟的稻穗不低垂?誰能使海不揚波,鵲不踏枝?誰能使鵝鴨不八卦,而啄木鳥求友的手不打賈島月下的門?」藉此勉勵總統,成就大事業的社會改革者,智仁勇兼具外,也須有忍力,得長期耐得住孤寂。今年早春臥病時,雖總統親來探望,詩人仍一貫本色,默然無語,一切盡付於詩。

孤峭的詩壇絕峰

周夢蝶,本名周起述,生於1921年。遺腹子的他,生逢戰時,一切身不由己,外在的困頓及壓抑,讓他渴求內在的自由,遂引「莊周夢蝶」故事,自號「夢蝶」,文壇中人稱「周公」、「夢老」或「蝶老」,他以苦行僧的姿態,「以哲思凝鑄悲苦」,且人、詩如一,兩者均是詩壇奇景。

《孤獨國》是周公的第一本詩集,在首頁中,他自云「以詩的悲哀征服生命的悲哀」,道盡生命無奈中仍有寄情之處,出版那年周公38歲,距戰亂流離大半個中國之後,隨軍旅到台灣,爾後落腳委身騎樓擺書攤,遍嘗生活疾苦且餵養詩心解放自己已歷20年,詩心是他靈魂的慰藉,寫詩是生活的出口,生命的救贖。

此後周公詩路不絕一甲子,詩作逾三百篇,唯遺珠不少,而且早年出版詩集多已絕版。去年由他的忘年交、高雄師範大學國文學系副教授曾進豐編著的3大卷《周夢蝶詩文集》,應是搜羅最齊全之作。

周公惜字如金,一首10行左右的短詩可苦吟半年,乃至一詩醞釀十數年也非罕見。

周公舉德國大哲培根的話說,「閱讀使人充實;言談使人詳盡;文字使人精確。」其中,尤嚮往「文字使人精確」的境界,於是一輩子著墨寫詩。正因為字字敲擊,解釋了周公繼詩集《孤獨國》、《還魂草》之後,隔了37年才又出詩集《十三朵白菊花》和《約會》的原因。周公且引了《泰戈爾詩集》的話當引言:「我的,未完成的過去,使我難於死;請從那媊孺韺琝a!」代表他83歲當時的心情。

「生下來就是個小老頭!」

幾面之緣,每與周公閒聊,總覺得詩人反應由衷而不失赤子之心。

周公有一位不到50歲的朋友,小聚時偶然感嘆:「很難了解一個八十多歲人的心境!」周公聞言即如此回答:「我最好不要談,你最好也不要問,因為雞不知鴨;鴨不知鵝;鵝不知魚鱉……」,激得朋友直說:「夠了,夠了,不會再問了!」

記得多年前的某一天午後,記者在報社巧遇周公來買報,打招呼中表示想與周公聊聊人生的「八十之美」,周公想了想說,並不覺得人生的八十、九十有什麼「美」可言,但又回了一句:「談談『不美』,也是一種美!」

周公談興既起,記者隨手奉上一杯滾熱的水,周公捧起即喝,並不理「很燙,喝慢點!」的叮嚀。周公說他喝水要嘛喝熱水,要嘛冰水,「喝熱水很刺激,有味道;溫水無口感,沒品味!」

時光隨記憶倒回七十多年前,周公感嘆求學時「學校教育破破碎碎」。生逢戰亂,家境很苦,而他從小沈靜寡言,自言「生下來就是個小老頭」,卻偏酷愛讀書,幾乎是背「四書五經」長大的,直到現在,「四書」仍可以由第一句背到最後一句!

擺攤生涯無非是詩

中學時他就讀河南安陽初中,之後考上開封勝利高級師範,半年後因抗戰事起,也因不忍心放下母親,周公轉回家鄉苑西鄉林高級師範就讀,才唸一星期,共產黨來了,只得以當兵逃生。

3歲定親,15歲完婚,在大陸育有二子一女的周公,28歲隨軍逃難來台,當了7年的兵後,因「病弱不堪任勞」而奉命退伍,領到生平第一筆鉅款──450元退役金後開始闖蕩江湖。直到4年後取得「營業許可」,在武昌街明星咖啡屋騎樓下擺了個專賣詩集與文學書籍的小書攤時,才算有了一個屬於自己的角落。

擺攤生涯持續了21年,1980年,他因胃疾開刀,從此歇業。之後他在外雙溪養病6年,在那「身瘦似鶴,日長如年」的日子堙A周公仍可以一個月2,300元的榮民俸,扣掉租金1,500元,其餘充當生活費而怡然自得,其間還圈點好多古書如《高僧傳》、《八指頭陀》、《聊齋》甚至《綠野仙蹤》等,一點兒也不為生活拮据所綑綁。

至今,周公還是一個人,依舊兩袖清風,只夠溫飽,也沒多餘家當,倒是數年前得到「中央日報」文學成就獎的第二天,就把10萬元獎金捐給了慈濟,惹得文壇老友跳腳大嘆。周公很清楚自己的性格及處境,「不淡泊明志也不行」,即使如漢武帝貴為天子,還是有「人,苦於不知足!」的感嘆,不是嗎?

峨嵋街上的先知

周公說選擇當兵或擺書攤,最簡單的想法是「不要餓死」;而當餓死不是威脅時,周公油然而生第二個願望「希望自由」,不管「是上天堂或下地獄,都不要別人干涉。」

賣書是一種自由,周公賣的是詩集類書,冷門書讓書攤相對冷清,而周公的求知慾卻是滾燙的,雖已四、五十歲了,周公仍保持高溫,不論中國古籍或西方的神話、小說、詩,總是閱讀再閱讀。

侷促街角,周公以個人不自覺的特色,成為「武昌街一處人文風景」,或是美國記者眼中「峨嵋街上的先知」(Oracle on Amoy Street)。他一點不在乎書架上的詩集有沒有賣出去,也不在意身旁熙來攘往、人車雜遝。那是一個心靜自然涼的角落,一個小書架,一張小板凳,賣詩之餘他也寫詩,詩集中一篇篇的詩作,都是街頭伏「案」(小板凳)的成果。

曾有朋友買周夢蝶的詩集而請他題字,周公當下把剛剛記在筆記本上的心得題給了朋友──「生活憑藉(條件),決定了生活的性質或方式。」

周公進一步解釋,像蒼鷹以尖鉤或像豺狼虎豹以利爪等捕食小動物,生存方式是以別人的生命餵養自己的生命,生活本質很殘忍;而小蚯蚓沒有鉤爪,僅以「上食膏壤,下飲黃泉」的方式過活。周公自覺自己的生活方式像蚯蚓,一無所有的過日子,「談不上快樂或不快樂,人要本分,什麼人過什麼樣的生活,如此而已!」

從枯寂到活潑清朗

周公一生,從安貧不餓死的卑微願望中立足,到滋生莫名的求知慾,到立志錘鍊詩句,他順著心志,選了一條最直截也最難的路。

為了自由,為了寫詩,在人生際遇中他錯失了親情、愛情及友情,他被迫甘於寂寞,就像詩壇知友余光中說的:「無論把《孤獨國》或《還魂草》翻到第幾頁,讀到的永遠是寂寞。」他從小小的願望開始,如草的卑微──「給我一坨土,我便能生根!」如今,經過時間的淬鍊,終成詩的巨人。

在曾進豐眼中,「枯、瘦、冷、寂」是周公的詩風。冷寂並不是無情無味,相反的,詩中深藏的冰火交纏、熱情與超脫拔河的張力,比千萬人的吶喊更喧囂、比靈肉的舞動更有魅惑力。正如〈孤獨國〉一詩:

這裡白晝幽闃窈窕如夜
夜比白晝更綺麗、豐實、光燦
而這裡的寒冷如酒,封藏著詩和美,
甚至虛空也懂手談,邀來滿天忘言的繁星……

《還魂草》時期的周公詩作,「有情、有禪,且更為孤絕」,曾進豐以〈紅蜻蜓〉詩句「苦成一部淚盡而繼之以血的石頭記」形容詩人看似無情、忘情,實則苦陷於情的悲劇感。

然而到了後期,禪的空明與活潑慢慢發酵,詩集《約會》中,已處處可見周夢蝶用生活化、平凡的語言,傳達出一種洞觀世事後的徹悟,「詩作的哲思也便不再只是偈語式的警句,而是意象清朗的整個境界。」讀者跟著詩人一路行來,至此豁然開朗。

如〈鳥道〉一詩如此敘述:

………
而今歲月扶著拄杖
──不再夢想遼闊了──
扶著與拄杖等高
翩遷而隨遇能安的影子
正一步一沈吟
向足下
最眼前的天邊
有白鷗悠悠
無限好之夕陽
之歸處
歸去

微瀾之所在,想必也是
滄海之所在吧!
……

「今天已經過量了!」

回歸生活,回到平凡,許多人想知道,苦瘦寒寂如周公,為什麼能活到耄老之年猶精神不失?

今年91歲的周公,沒有特別的養生之道,硬要說則不過「安分、知足」罷了,但長期以來的生活習慣,很自然形成「周氏養生法」,聽詳細了,很實用也很環保。

有一天,記者和周公相約吃早餐,那天有點冷,周公穿得單薄,他解釋自己喜歡「穿得不夠,保持一點冷的感覺」,主因不喜歡太享受,自覺「福薄」。正說著,清粥小菜來了,只見蝶老端起一大碗粥,唏哩呼嚕一口氣喝完,「小心,不要燙到!」他全然不理,無視其他配菜,再續一大碗粥,喝到一半才停下來,有點不好意思地自言自語:「懷疑上輩子是和尚,不然為何如此愛喝粥!」然後自顧自掩臉而笑,還忙補充年少時母親的告誡:「牙齒不好看,最好少笑!」

接著自承:「有時在家做稀飯,粥是喝完了,花生米沒動一粒!」「要不要再一碗?」「二碗夠了,今天已經過量了!」劈頭再一句「要長命,三分病;要不老,七分飽」;接著又悠悠帶上一句「想長壽,不要太享受。」詩人一點不想慣壞自己。對養生,周公著實深思過也厲行著。

疾病不找寬心人

周公長期飲食極清淡,如果覺得身子「虛」,他會專程坐車到淡水吃一碗燉得軟爛的牛肉麵,每每覺得元氣頓時回復,維持幾十年體重在40公斤上下。

為此,周公說了個笑話:一回和朋友聚餐完走出飯館,旁邊正擺著自動投幣磅秤,因為好玩站了上去,電腦話說了:「小朋友,你的身高163.4公分,體重39公斤,祝你愉快!」周公笑得開心,因為體重輕,竟返老還童成了「小朋友」!

認真談養生心得,周公以為飲食起居只反應於外觀,占比少;內心的占比至少7成,畢竟「疾病不找寬心人」。

周公以自己為例,內心的健康來自性情的陶冶,從小背四書五經長大,訓練他「敏於感受」,而儒教中的「安貧樂道」,讓他慣以顏回自況;年紀稍長,周公除了認真參禪,自認更受老莊影響而接近陶淵明,天真浪漫的想法充塞胸中,而行徑仍一本儒家精神,中規中矩。

心境平靜,也是周公的養生心法。「特別是50歲以後接觸佛法,感覺更是受用無窮。」佛法不避談結果,講究表埵p一,尤其佛法中對人為何富貴貧賤,健康或不健康,快樂或痛苦,一切「如是因,如是緣,如是果。」知道原因,則可以不怨天,不尤人,心安理得,海闊天空。

「給我時間,把過去的心願完成……」

也許是身體底子不算差,周夢蝶身形瘦瘦的,但可硬朗得很,自承拔掉第三顆蛀牙時大約是60歲,至今沒有一顆假牙,什麼都能吃,視力尤其好,連小螞蟻字都看得見,看字不用戴眼鏡或瞇著眼,得天獨厚。周公習慣以小楷瘦金體書寫文書稿件,一小時磨出數十字,文字娟秀有力,文友皆知。

值得一提的,周公活動力強,也是保持身體硬朗之因。周公律己甚嚴,如與人有約,一定早早出門,「利用等候時光,靜靜享用早餐最有滋味。」周公喜歡到固定幾家咖啡館靜坐,不是因為氣氛,而是「用腦太多而出走」,日常多半閱讀及沉思,前往咖啡廳的路上,約一小時的距離,足以讓腦袋淨空,一跳上公車,時空一變,「腦筋都活起來了!」於是在重慶南路一帶常可見到周公的身影,即使入夜了,周公也時常走在路上,趕最後一班車回新店。

雖具有詩人的浪漫,周公卻也感慨時間的流逝,他曾不斷祈盼:「給我時間,把過去的心願完成,於願已足。」年過90後,周公自覺健康愈來愈差,他語帶懊悔的說,以前總是拖,並憶起林海音過世時,小說家潘人木寫的懷念文章中,有二句話讓周公大有感觸:「……我以為還有很多,其實沒有了。」

一襲長衫,揚長前行

雖卓然自成一家,周公仍不免感慨,「必須做,應該做,喜歡做的事太多,而時間、精力和體力太少!」周公懊惱自己,「常常發了宏願,就沒有行動了!」他總是以高標準不滿著自己、督促著自己,引為精進自己的力量。連以前訂報,他都堅持付清報費才開始看報,連派報生也說,「像你這樣的人真是太少了!」

是啊!周公常說自己是「缺陷人」、「畸型的人」,卻是朋友眼中「富於包容性」的人。個性清淡不很積極的周公,有時也有驚人之舉,譬如看到別人的名字很美或演講得精采,竟會主動上前攀談,雖是「例外中的例外」,卻顯見詩人對人極有溫度的一面。

至今仍深深記得,一次訪談終了,周公狠狠拋下一句,「今年只剩5個月了,不能再浪費了!」可見周公鞭策自己從不打折,雖近風燭之年,他還是一貫地多寫少說,繼續那未竟的詩路。於是,我們似乎又看到那個一襲長袍的趕路人,一路飄逸揚長而行,孜孜不息。

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英文 日文

Chou Meng-tieh: Ascetic, Poet

Chen Hung-hsu /photos courtesy of Chen Wen-fa /tr. by Scott Williams

Chou Meng-tieh, "Uncle Chou," always cuts a familiar figure when he's out on the street.

No matter the season, he'll be wearing a woolen cap and a long robe, and carrying an umbrella and a big bag full of books and magazines. The only thing that varies is the thickness of the material. His look has been unchanged since he took up Buddhism more than 30 years ago, when he was in his 50s. Old and frail, but still sharp as a tack, Chou always takes his time, his pace as patient and measured as his development as a poet.


Chou Meng-tieh's friends like his robes, and say they give him a refined, elegant look. When the now deceased poet Mei Xin presented Chou with a long robe, he remarked: "This kind of clothing suits you, and you suit this kind of clothing." Nowadays, "Uncle Chou's" entire wardrobe consists of only five robes that vary in thickness with the season.

A retiree who lives by himself, Chou has always lived simply, but has become frail in recent years. Chou was quiet when Taiwan's literary circle feted him last year on the eve of his 90th birthday (by the Chinese method of counting age), exchanging smiles with long-time friend Chang To-wu, but otherwise saying little. (Chang and Chou have been spending their birthdays together for years.)

Chou, the king of the "Lonely Land," was among the first winners of the National Award for the Arts. A trailblazer who set the standard for Taiwanese contemporary poetry, he still regularly tills the fields of literary imagination, his poetic spirit inexhaustible.

Poets are prone to worrying about their nation and its people, and often can't help but be concerned with the inequities and injustices of the world. In Chou's case, he even sent President Ma Ying-jeou a poem that ran: "Who can keep the ripened rice from dipping its head? Who can calm the seas or keep the magpie from the branch? Who can stop ducks and geese from gossiping or the woodpecker's friendseeking claw from knocking on Jia Dao's moonlit door?" Chou's intent was to remind the president that successful social reformers must possess not just knowledge, humanity, and courage, but endurance, and that they must be prepared to accept long-term isolation. The president dropped by for a personal visit when Chou was bedridden early this spring, but Chou remained as reticent as ever, choosing to let his poems do his speaking.

Poetry's lonely heights

Chou Meng-tieh was born Chou Chi-shu in 1921. Born after his father had passed away and subject to all manner of difficulties and constraints throughout the war years, the young Chou yearned for the freedom to act as he saw fit. In later years, Chou took to referring to himself as Meng-tieh ("dream of a butterfly"), referencing the philosopher Zhuangzi's dream of being a butterfly, though these days members of Taiwan's literary community generally call him "Uncle Chou," "Elder Meng," or "Elder Tieh." Living as a virtual ascetic, Chou has used "philosophy to refine and cast tragedy" and brought life and work together into a single unitary whole much admired within Taiwan's poetry circles.

On the opening page of his first collection of poetry, Lonely Land, Chou wrote that he was "using the sorrow of poetry to overcome the sorrow of life." But when life reaches a difficult pass, creative endeavors can offer a way out. Chou was 38 years old when he published Lonely Land. Having left the wartime misery of mainland China and come to Taiwan with the army, he ended up opening a bookstand. He had tasted life's bitterness and, seeking liberation, nurtured his poetic side for 20 years. Those poetic inclinations were a salve to his soul and the act of writing an escape. Through them, he found salvation and redemption.

Chou has now been writing for some 60 years and has produced more than 300 poems. But many talented individuals go unrecognized and much of his early work is no longer in print. Last year, Tseng Chin-feng, a friend who also happens to be an associate professor in Chinese literature at National Kaohsiung Normal University, edited a three-volume collection of Chou's work that is likely the most comprehensive yet produced.

Uncle Chou cherishes words. He frequently fusses over short 10-line pieces for as much as six months and has often been known to labor over single poems for a decade or more.

Quoting the English renaissance man Sir Francis Bacon, Chou remarks: "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exacting man." Yearning for precision, Chou has spent his life writing poetry. But this pursuit of precision also explains how 37 years passed between the publication of his early Lonely Land and Goddess Incarnate collections and his more recent Thirteen White Chrysanthemums and Rendezvous collections. In his introduction to Thirteen White Chrysanthemums, Chou uses a line from the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore to describe his state of mind at the age of 83: "Release me from my unfulfilled past clinging to me from behind making death difficult."

"Born an old man"

I've chatted with Uncle Chou several times, and always feel his responses are heartfelt and retain something of a childlike quality.

A friend of Chou's who isn't yet 50 lamented at a small gathering how hard it is to understand the mind of someone in their 80s. When Chou heard, he told him: "It's best that I don't talk, and best that you don't ask. Chickens don't understand ducks. Ducks don't understand geese. Geese don't understand the fish or the turtles...." That prompted the friend to exclaim, "Enough! Enough! I won't ask anymore."

I remember running into Chou out buying a paper one afternoon many years ago. While exchanging greetings, I mentioned that I wanted to chat with him about the good things that go along with being 80. Chou thought for a moment, then said he didn't think there were any good things to speak of about being 80 or 90, but then added, "Then again, talking about 'not good things,' is itself one kind of good thing."

As Chou got more into the conversation, I offered him a glass of hot water that he drank straight away in spite of my warning that it was hot. He said that when drinking water, he prefers it either hot or cold. "Drinking hot water is very stimulating; it has flavor. Warm water is bland and insipid!"

Casting his memory back to a time more than 70 years ago, Chou recalled that his formal education was "fragmentary." Living through the chaos of war, his family fallen on hard times and himself reticent from childhood, he argued that he was "born an old man." But he always had a passion for books and grew up memorizing the "Four Books and Five Classics." To this day, he can recite the Four Books from cover to cover.

Bookselling

Chou attended middle school in Anyang, Henan Province. After graduating, he tested into Kaifeng's Shengli Normal High School. But, just six months later, the start of war and concerns about his mother prompted him to leave Kaifeng and return home to Yuanxi, where he enrolled at Xianglin Normal High School. When the Communists turned up just one week later, he ran away to join the army.

Betrothed at three, married at 15, and the father of two sons and a daughter while still very young himself, Chou fled from mainland China to Taiwan with the army at the age of 28. Discharged for poor health after serving seven more years, he received NT$450 in severance money and began traveling around the country. It wasn't until four years later, when he received a business license and opened a small bookstall in the arcade beneath Cafe Astoria on Taipei's Wuchang Street, that he finally had a corner to call his own.

Chou kept his stall for 21 years, until a 1980 stomach surgery compelled him to give it up. He went on to convalesce in Waishuangxi for six years, living contentedly on his NT$2,300-per-month military pension. His rent was just NT$1,500 per month, and the remainder of the pension covered his living expenses. In those days, he was "as skinny as a crane, and the days were as long as years." Chou spent his time annotating numerous classic works, including Memoirs of Eminent Monks, Master Eight Fingers, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, and even The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and never felt bound by his straitened financial circumstances.

Chou continues to live alone today, and remains as poor as ever, with only enough for room and board and no family property. In fact, when he won a Central Daily News award for literary achievements several years ago, he donated the entire NT$100,000 prize to the Tzu Chi Foundation, much to the dismay of friends in the literary community. But Chou knows himself and his circumstances well. "I can't not live a simple life," he says. After all, you could become an emperor and still "suffer from the failure to be content with your lot in life."

The Oracle on Amoy Street

Uncle Chou says that his decisions to become a soldier and open a bookstall were, at their most basic level, based on not wanting to starve. Once starvation was no longer a threat, he discovered that his next desire was "freedom." Whether "bound for Heaven or Hell, I didn't want other people interfering," he says.

Bookselling represented a kind of freedom. His stall carried collections of poetry, which, being relatively unpopular, meant he had little business. But Chou thirsted for knowledge, not money. His passion for learning carried on into his 40s and then his 50s, and he read and reread everything from the Chinese classics to the novels, poetry, and myths of the West.

Sitting at a narrow intersection on Wuchang Street, Chou became a part of the human scenery, or, as one American journalist put it, the "Oracle on Amoy Street." Chou didn't care in the least if the poetry he carried didn't sell, nor did he pay any heed to the cars and people bustling by. His inner calm insulated him from his surroundings. He had a small bookshelf and a little stool, and, when not selling poems, wrote his own, composing one after another sitting at his "desk" on the street.

Once, when a friend asked Chou to inscribe a collection he'd just purchased, Chou gave the man something he'd just written in his notebook: "The things on which life depends determine life's nature or manner."

Chou explains that the goshawk uses its sharp beak and wolves, tigers, and panthers their razor claws to capture small animals. They maintain their existence by using the lives of others to nourish their own, which gives their lives a ruthless character. The earthworm, on the other hand, has neither beak nor claw and instead "eats the fertile soil and drinks the nether springs." Chou thinks himself more like the earthworm, passing his days with no property to his name. "It's not about happiness or unhappiness," he says. "People must be who they are, live the life appropriate for them. That's all."

Opening up

Whether content simply not to starve, hungry for knowledge, or honing lines of poetry, Chou has always followed his heart, choosing the most direct but also the most difficult path through life.

To maintain his freedom and write his poems, Chou has made do with solitude, missing out on family, romance, and friends. As his fellow poet Yu Kwang-chung put it: "No matter what page you turn to in Lonely Land or Goddess Incarnate, what you read is always lonely." Chou began with the smallest of desires, as unassuming as that of the grass-"give me a pile of dirt, and I'll put down roots." Time has tempered and honed him into a poetic giant.

Tseng Chin-feng sees Chou's poetry revolving around the "withered, thin, cold, and lonely." But Chou's cold and solitude aren't without feeling or flavor. Instead, the interplay between fire and ice, the tension between passion and transcendence that hide in the poems' depths are louder than the shouting of the crowd and more charming than the dance of flesh and spirit. In "Lonely Land," for example, he writes:

Here daytime is as quiet, serene and seductive as night / The night even more gorgeous, substantial, radiant than the day / And here the winter cold is like wine, stowing and bestowing poetry and beauty / Even the void converses, inviting over the silently communing stars that fill the sky...

Chou's work from the Goddess Incarnate period "is imbued with feeling, shot through with Buddhism, and even more exceptional." Tseng uses the line "withered into a stone, tears exhausted, weeping blood," from "Red Dragonfly" to show that while the poet may seem unfeeling and indifferent, he is in fact caught up in tragic emotions and suffering.

More and more of the reflected brilliance and vibrancy of Buddhism begins to emerge in Chou's later work. In the collection Rendezvous, he uses ordinary, everyday language to pass on the profound understanding gained through his clear-eyed take on worldly events. "The thoughts driving the poems are no longer Buddhist-style aphorisms, but the clear, sharp images of a comprehensive state of mind." The reader accompanies the poet as he journeys to this enlightened state.

Take "A Bird's Path" for example:

And lately Time carries a cane / no longer dreaming vast dreams / the grip and the cane equally tall / the Shadow drifts, content with circumstances / plodding, mumbling to himself / toward / the horizon most nearly before his eyes / white gulls dawdle / a boundless, beautiful sunset / place of return / returning
Wherever there's a tiny swell, there too will be / The azure sea!

"Already too much!"

Turning back to more mundane matters, many people wonder how someone who has suffered and been alone as much as Uncle Chou has managed to live such a long and vital life.

Chou, now in his 90s, doesn't have a particular method for maintaining his health. If you push, he'll say it's nothing more than "knowing one's limits and being content." But, if you listen carefully and observe his lifestyle, there actually is a "Chou approach to health maintenance" that is both environmentally friendly and practical.

Meeting Chou for breakfast one chilly morning, I noted he was only lightly dressed. He explained that he likes not wearing quite enough and feeling a little of the chill because he doesn't like indulging himself too much and instead prefers to feel a little "poor." Just as he finished speaking, our congee and side dishes arrived, and Chou immediately slurped down a bowl all in one gulp. "Watch out! You'll burn yourself!" I cried. Ignoring both me and the side dishes, he started right in on another bowl. About halfway through that one, he stopped and mumbled sheepishly to himself: "I wonder if I was a monk in a previous life. Otherwise, why would I love congee so much?" Then, covering his mouth and smiling, he added that his mother used to tell him, "When your teeth are ugly, you'd best not smile too often."

"Sometimes when I make congee at home," Chou admitted, "I finish it without eating even one peanut along with it." I asked him if he wanted another bowl. "Two's enough," he said. "I've already had too much today." He quipped, "To live a long life, stay 30% ill; to keep yourself young, eat seven parts of your fill." He then added, "To grow old at your leisure, don't partake of too much pleasure." Chou has thought long and deeply on maintaining his health, and doesn't indulge himself at all.

A mind at peace

Chou has long adhered to a very simple diet. If he's feeling weak, he'll ride out to Danshui for a bowl of beef noodles with the meat cooked very soft, a dish that always serves to restore him.

He's weighed around 40 kilograms for decades, and offers up a funny story about his weight. One day Chou and a friend were leaving a restaurant after a meal and saw a coin-operated scale outside. When Chou stepped on it, the scale's computer told him: "Child, you are 163.4 centimeters tall and weigh 39 kilos. Best wishes." Chou laughs happily-he weighs so little that he's become a child again!

Speaking more seriously about his insights into staying healthy, Chou says that diet and lifestyle only touch the surface, and account for only a small portion of health maintenance. In his view, what's inside you counts for at least 70%. When all is said and done, "illnesses don't go looking for people who are at peace."

Chou cites himself as an example, and argues that inner health comes of cultivating the emotions. Having grown up on the Four Books and Five Classics, which trained him to be empathetic, and on Confucianism's admonition to be at peace in difficult circumstances by delighting in doing right, Chou used to think of himself as a latter-day Yan Hui, Confucius' favorite disciple. When he got a little older, he became a devoted student of Buddhism, but was drawn to the work of Zhuangzi and Tao Yuanming as well. His heart was filled with a naive romanticism while his behavior continued to be informed by a Confucian sense of moderation and adherence to rules.

Inner tranquility is also crucial to his health maintenance regimen. "I've found Buddhism to be invaluable since I turned to it in my 50s." Buddhism doesn't avoid talk of consequences. Instead, it views the outside and inside as one, and sees an individual's wealth or poverty, health or illness, and happiness or suffering as a sequence of cause, karma, and consequence. If you know the cause of something, you no longer need to complain about fate or people. This kind of knowledge leads to peace of mind, and greatness of spirit.

"Give me time..."

Whether it is his fundamentally good constitution or his thinness, Chou enjoys robust good health. He says that he had just his third tooth pulled for cavities at around the age of 60, still has no false teeth, and eats everything. Chou also has exceptionally good eyesight that allows him to read small print without squinting or putting on glasses. He is accustomed to doing his writing in the "slender gold" calligraphic style, grinding out a few dozen characters an hour in a refined, powerful hand instantly recognizable to members of the literary community.

Chou's zest for activity has also helped keep him in good health. A very disciplined man, he always sets out early for appointments. "I love using the extra time to enjoy a quiet breakfast," he says. Chou has a few favorite coffeeshops for sitting quietly. He doesn't go to them for the atmosphere, but to "give a mind that's worked too hard a breather." He spends most of a typical day reading and thinking, and spends the hour it takes him to get to a coffeeshop emptying his head. Once he hops on a bus, his mind begins to revive. Chou is known to haunt the Chongqing South Road area, where you can often see him even after dark, hurrying down the sidewalk to catch the last bus back to Xindian.

Though he has the romantic nature of a poet, Chou laments the passage of time and has long pleaded: "Give me time to realize past aspirations and fulfill desires." Now that he's entered his 90s and feels his health is declining, he regretfully admits to having been a habitual procrastinator and says he was deeply moved by a passage from the eulogy that Pan Renmu wrote for Lin Hai-yin: "I thought there was still so much more [time], when in fact there was none."

Marching onward

In spite of having developed into a poet like no other, Chou nonetheless laments that he has so many things he must do, should do, and likes to do, but so little time, energy, and strength to do them. "I often develop grand ambitions that I never act on," he says with annoyance. His high standards leave him dissatisfied with himself, and spur him to do better.

While Chou may often refer to himself as a "nitpicker" and "unbalanced," his friends say he's very forgiving. Pure of heart and relatively passive by nature, Chou still manages to surprise people sometimes. For example, if he thinks a name particularly pretty, or a speech particularly well delivered, he may well strike up a conversation. Though he is a rare bird even among other rare birds, the warmth he feels for others is readily apparent.

I still well remember the end of one of my earlier interviews with Chou. "There are only five months left in the year," he said emphatically. "I can't waste any more time." Clearly, Chou cuts himself no slack. Though getting well on in years, he continues to prefer writing to speaking, and to keep striding along the poet's path. The man in the long robes is still hurrying down the sidewalk, hard at work with no time to rest.

苦行の詩人 周夢蝶

文・陳紅旭 写真・陳文発

道で「周公」周夢蝶に出会えば、どんなときでもいつもの姿だ。

一年中毛糸の帽子をかぶり、長衣に長傘、違うのは厚いか薄いかだけだ。大きなかばんにはきっと本や雑誌が入っていて、五十を過ぎて仏と禅を学び始めてからこの装束も三十余年になる。小柄で細身だが、少しも年寄りじみてはいない。周夢蝶は決して急がず、歩みは軽く穏やかに、彼の詩の道のようにゆっくりと熟成し、深い味わいだ。


周夢蝶の長衣は「垢抜けて、見栄えがする」とほめる友人が少なくない。詩人の故・梅新が彼に長衣を贈って言った。「こういう服は君のような人にこそ似合う。君のような人はこういう服こそ似合う」。四季を通じて周公は厚さの違う長衣5枚だけで「衣」の問題を解決している。

隠居して一人暮らしの周公は、非常に簡素な生活で、近年ますます痩せ細ってきた。昨年文壇が周公90歳を祝ったとき、盛大かつ心温まる場であったが、周公は自分を笑わせる張拓蕪に微笑するだけで、ほとんどの時間は静かに座っていた。拓老人と蝶老人が毎年一緒に誕生日を過ごすのも、長年の慣例になっている。

「孤独国」国王である詩人・周夢蝶は、第一回国家文芸賞に輝き、台湾の現代詩壇にあって啓蒙的・指標的地位を占める。今なお創作を止めることなく、詩心は泉の如く湧き出し、文学の夢を耕し続けている。

詩人は自らを憂え、国を民を憂う。詩人の温度で、世の不平不義を感じずにいられない。馬英九総統に贈った詩『九行二首』に言う。「実った稲穂の頭を垂れなくさせられるのは誰か。海を波立たなくさせ、鵲に枝を踏まなくさせられるのは誰か。ガチョウやアヒルを黙らせ、啄木鳥が友を求める手に、賈島の月下の門を叩なくさせられるのは誰か」総統を激励し、大事を成就させる社会改革者は、智・仁・勇を具えるとともに忍耐も必要とし、長い間の孤独に耐えねばならないと伝える。今年早春に病に臥せていたとき総統が見舞いに訪れたのだが、詩人はいつもの如く黙って語らず、全てを詩に託した。

詩壇の孤高

周夢蝶、本名周起述、1921年生れ。遺腹の子として戦時に生まれ、何もが思うようにならなかった。外在の苦境と抑圧が、内在の自由を渇望させ、故事「荘周、夢で蝶になる」に因み「夢蝶」と名乗る。文壇は「周公」「夢老」「蝶老」と呼び、自身は苦行僧の姿で「哲理で悲苦を鋳固める」。人と詩の同じ姿は詩壇の奇景である。

『孤独国』は周公の処女詩集である。最初のページの「詩の悲哀で生命の悲哀を征服する」という言葉に、人生のむなしさの中でも心の拠り所があることが言い尽くされている。出版は周公38歳。戦乱とともに中国各地を流浪し、軍とともに台湾へ渡り、その後、軒下に本を並べて売った。生活の労苦を嘗め尽くし、詩の心を養い自分を解き放って20年、詩の心は魂の慰めであり、詩作は生活の出口、生命の救済だった。

それ以来周公の詩の道は60年間途絶えることなく、作品は300篇を超える。ただ、失われた珠玉も多く、早期に出版された詩集の多くは絶版となっている。昨年、忘年の交わりである高雄師範大学国文学部副教授・曾進豊が手がけた『周夢蝶詩文集』全三巻が、最も作品を網羅している。

周公は字を大切にする。10行の短詩に半年かけ、一つの詩に十数年かけることも珍しくない。

周公はイギリスの哲学者ベーコンの言葉を挙げる。「読書は充実した人間をつくり、会話は機転のきく人間をつくり、書くことは正確な人間をつくる」特に「書くことは正確な人間をつくる」境地に憧れ、詩を書き続ける。文字と文字がぶつかりあいが、詩集『孤独国』『還魂草』の後、37年を経なければ詩集『十三輪の白菊の花』と『約会』が出なかった理由だ。周公は『迷い鳥──タゴール詩集』の一節を引用して序としている。「わたしを自由にしてください、背中にしがみついて死を困難にしているわたしのみたされなかった過去から。」(邦訳:川名澄訳、風媒社)83歳当時の心情が現れている。

「生まれながらの爺」

縁あって数度会い、周公と話を交わすたびに、この詩人は赤子の心を忘れていないと思う。

周公の50歳にならない友人が、ある集まりでぼやいた。「八十歳の人の心境は理解しがたい」周公は答えた。「私も話さないほうがいいし、お前も聞かないほうがいい。鶏にはアヒルはわからないし、アヒルはガチョウがわからない。ガチョウはすっぽんが…」友は慌てた。「もういい、もういい、聞かないから!」

何年も前のある午後、記者が新聞社で、新聞を買いに来た周公にばったり出会った。挨拶のうちに、人生の「八十の美」について話をうかがいたいというと、周公は考えて、人生の八十、九十に「美」があるとは思えないと言った。しかしまた一言、「『美しくなさ』を話すのも、ある意味、美かもしれないな」と返した。

周公が話す気になったので、熱い湯を一杯出すと、周公は押し戴いて、「熱いからゆっくり」というのも聞かずに飲んだ。周公は、飲むなら熱い湯か冷たい水だという。「熱い湯には刺激も味もある。ぬるま湯は口当りも品位もない」

記憶は遡って七十数年前、周公は「教育はめちゃくちゃだった」と学校時代を嘆く。戦時に生まれ、家は貧しく、幼少から寡黙だった。「生まれながらにして爺さん」だったというが、読書を愛し、「四書五経」を覚えて育ち、今でも「四書」は最初から最後まで諳んじることができる。

露店の生涯こそが詩

中学は河南安陽初級中学に通い、その後、開封勝利高級師範に合格した。半年後、抗戦が勃発し、母を一人にしておけず地元の苑西郷林高級師範に移ったが、一週間で共産党が来たため兵になって逃げるしかなかった。

3歳で婚約し、15歳で結婚した。中国大陸に二男一女を残して、28歳で軍とともに台湾へ逃れ、7年間兵士を務めたあと、「病弱で任務に堪えない」ため命を受けて退役し、生まれて初めて450元の大金・退役金を手にして、世の中を渡っていくことになった。4年後にようやく「営業許可」を得て、武昌街の明星コーヒー店の軒下に詩集と文学書を専門に扱う露天の本屋を開いて、やっと自分の場所ができた。

露店を営む人生が21年続き、1980年、胃を手術して店をたたむ。その後、外双渓で6年養生し、「鶴のように痩せ、一日が一年のように長い」日々の中、周公は月2300元の軍人年金をもらい、家賃1500元を引いた残りの生活費に甘んじていた。その間、『高僧伝』『八指頭陀』『聊齋』など多くの作品を熟読し、逼迫した生活に縛られることは少しもなかった。

今も周公は一人で、懐は相変わらず空っぽで、食べるのに足りるだけで余分の財産もない。それなのに、数年前「中央日報」文学成就賞を受賞した翌日、10万元の賞金を慈済基金会に寄付してしまい、文壇の老友たちを嘆かせた。周公は自分の性格と境遇をよく理解しているから、「淡白にして志を明らかにするほかない」のである。漢の武帝ほどに貴くても「人は足るを知らざるを苦しむ」嘆きから逃れられないのだ。

峨嵋街の先覚

兵になるか本を売るかの選択に、最も簡単な考えが「飢え死にしないこと」だ。飢え死ぬ恐れがなければ、第二の願望は「自由を願う」だ。「天国でも地獄でも、人に干渉されたくない」のだ。

本を売るのは一種の自由だ。売るのは詩集の類の書籍だ。マイナーな本の露店は賑わわない。だが周公の知識欲は煮えたぎっていた。四、五十歳になっていたが、周公は熱いまま、中国の古典も西洋の神話、小説、詩も、繰り返し読んだ。

街の片隅で、周公自身は自覚なしに「武昌街の一角の文人の風景」となった。米記者の目に「峨嵋街の先覚(Oracle on Amoy Street)」と映ることもあった。詩集が売れなくともお構いなしで、身辺の雑踏も気に留めなかった。それは心穏やかなれば自ずと涼やかなる片隅であり、小さな書架、小さな腰掛、詩を売りつつ彼も詩を書いた。詩一つひとつが、街角で没頭した成果なのだ。

ある友人が周夢蝶の詩集を買い、題辞を頼んだところ、周公はさっきノートに書いた言葉を贈った。「生活の条件で、生活の質と方法が決まる」。

周公が説明した。鷹のように鋭い嘴や、猛獣のように鋭い爪で小動物を捕らえて食べるのは、他人の命で自分の命を養う生存法で、生活の本質は残酷なものだ。ミミズは嘴も爪もなく、「土を食んで泉を飲んで」暮らしている。自分の生き方はミミズに似ていると思う。何も持たずに暮らしている。「楽しいかどうかでなく、人には本分があって、相応しい生活をする、それだけだ」。

寂寞から快活明朗まで

周公の一生は、貧困に甘んじ餓死はしないという小さな願いから、わけのわからぬ知識欲が生まれ、詩を極めようと志を立てるまで、心の赴くまま、最もまっすぐで最も難しい道を選んできた。

自由のために、詩を書くために、人生の出会いの中で家族を、愛情を、友情を失い、寂寥に甘んじることを余儀なくされた。詩壇の友・余光中がいう。「『孤独国』でも『還魂草』でも、どのページを見ても、あるのは永遠に寂寞」。小さな願い、草のように微々たる思い──「一つかみの土をくれ、それで根を生やせるから」、それが今では、時間の精錬を経て、詩の巨人となった。

曾進豊は「枯、痩、冷、寂」が周公の詩風という。冷寂は無情無味ではなく、逆に、詩の奥底に秘めた氷と火の交わり、情熱と超越の綱引きであり、千万人の叫びよりけたたましく、肉の舞よりも魅惑的である。詩「孤独国」のように。

ここ白昼の静寂は夜の如く妖しく深い
夜は白昼より麗しく、豊かで、輝かしい
この寒さは酒の如く、詩と美を秘めて、
虚空さえ手話を使い、
言葉を忘れた満天の星を誘う・・・

『還魂草』期の周公の詩作は、「情あり禅あり、より一層の孤絶」であり、曾進豊は「赤とんぼ」の句「苦くて涙涸れ果て血で後を続ける石頭記」で、詩人の無情に似て実は情に苦しむ悲壮を形容する。

しかし後期になると、禅の空明と快活さが徐々に醗酵し、詩集『約会』では、周夢蝶は各所で、生活に即した平凡な言葉で、世事を洞察した悟りを伝えている。「詩作の哲理はもはや偈語(げご・仏の徳を讃える散文)式の警告のみならず、清浄明朗の境地そのものの印象である」。読者は詩人と共に歩み、ここへ至って悟るのである。

詩「鳥道」にこう言っている。

・・・・・・
今 歳月は杖に寄り添い
──夢はもはや広大ではない──
杖と同じ高さをつかみ
ひらりと移りどこにも安んじる影
一歩進んでは考える
足下へ
いちばん目近の天の果て
白鴎が悠々と
限りなくすばらしい夕日
その帰るところ
帰っていく
微かな波のところ、きっと
滄海のところ!
・・・・・・

「今日はもうたくさん!」

生活に帰り、平凡に戻る。周公ほど苦しく寂寥にあって、なぜ年老いても活力を失わないのか。

今年91歳になる周公は、特に養生しているわけでなく、強いて言えば「分を守り、足るを知る」に過ぎない。しかし長い間の生活習慣は「周氏養生法」となり、詳しく聞けば実用的で環境にもやさしい。

ある日、記者は周公と朝食を共にする約束をした。その日はやや冷えた。薄着の周公は「少なめに着て、少し寒い感じを残す」のが好きだと話した。贅沢が苦手で「福が薄い」と自分で思う。話すうちに粥と菜が来る。蝶老人は粥を碗いっぱいによそい、すごい勢いで飲んでしまった。「気をつけて、やけどします」というのも聞かず、菜には目もくれずに粥をおかわりして、半分まで飲んでようやく止まると、バツ悪そうにつぶやいた。「前世は和尚だったかなぁ、なんでこんなに粥が好きなのか」そして手で顔を覆って笑って、子供の頃の母の教えを慌てて守る。「歯がみっともないから、あんまり笑うんじゃないよ!」

「家で粥を炊くと、粥は全部飲んでしまったのに、落花生は一粒も食べてない」と認める。「もう一杯いかが?」「二杯でたくさん。今日は食べ過ぎた」そしていきなり「三病息災、腹七分目」と言い、「長生きしたけりゃ贅沢するな」と悠々と付け足した。詩人はちっとも楽しようと思わないらしい。養生も深い思慮で実践する。

病は気から

周公は長い間、粗食を続けているが、身体の虚弱を感じると、バスに乗って淡水へ行き、軟らかく煮込んだ牛肉麺を食べる。いつもすぐに元気が湧くのを感じながら、体重40キロ前後を数十年保っている。

笑い話をしてくれた。友人と食堂を出ると、横にコイン式体重計があった。面白半分で乗ってみると、コンピュータの声が言った。「坊ちゃん、身長163.4センチ、体重39キロです。それでは今日もいい日を!」周公はうれしそうに笑う。体重が軽くて「坊ちゃん」に若返りしたのだ。

真面目に健康の秘訣を聞くと、周公は飲食や生活習慣は外観にだけ反映し、比率は少ないが、一方、心持の比率は7割だと言う。「病は気から」ということである。

周公は自分を例に、心の健康は性情の教養だと話す。幼い頃から四書五経を暗記し、感受性を培った。儒教の「貧に安んじ道に楽しむ」は、自分を顔回に照らしてみる癖をつけた。大人になり、熱心に禅を学び、また老荘思想の影響を受けて陶淵明に近づいたという。天真爛漫な考えを胸に注ぎ、行いは儒家精神に基づき規則正しかった。

心の平穏も、周公の心の養生法だ。「特に50歳以降、仏法に触れて、たいへん役にたっていると思う」仏法は結果を問わず、表裏一体を追求する。殊に仏法の、人はなぜ富貴貧賎、健康・不健康、快楽・苦痛があるのか、一切は「因の如く、縁の如く、果の如く」原因を知れば、天を恨まず、人を嫉まず、心安く、大空が開ける。

「過去の願いを叶えたい・・・」

もともと丈夫なのか、周夢蝶は痩せているが、たいへん元気だ。三本目の虫歯を抜いたのは60歳くらい、今でも入れ歯は一本もなく、何でも食べられる。視力は特によく、蟻のような字も見え、眼鏡いらずで重宝している。周公は小楷痩金体で原稿を書く。一時間に数十字を磨きあげるが、文字の力強い美しさは友の知るところだ。

特筆すべきは周公の活動力である。これも元気の一因だ。周公は自分に厳しく、約束があれば早々に出かける。「待ち時間に静かにいただく朝食はいちばん美味い」という。周公は何軒か決まったコーヒー店で、静かに腰掛ける。雰囲気ではなくて、「頭の使いすぎで出かける」のだ。日常の大半は読書と思考で埋まっているが、コーヒー店へ向かう小一時間の道のりは、頭を空っぽにするには十分だ。バスに乗ると時空が一変し、「頭が働き出す」。そういうわけで重慶南路一帯では周公の姿がよく見られる。夜になっても周公は道を歩き、最終バスで新店へ帰る。

詩人のロマンはあっても、時間の流れを嘆く。かつていつも願っていた。「時間をください、過去の願いを叶えたい、それで満足しますから」90を過ぎて、身体の衰えを感じている。以前は先延ばしてばかりいたと悔いる。林海音が亡くなった時、小説家・潘人木が書いた故人を懐かしむ文章の言葉に、周公は動かされた。「もっとあると思っていたけど、なかった。」

長衣をはおって颯爽と

卓越した周公だが、「せねばならないこと、すべきこと、したいことが多すぎるのに、時間も精力も体力も足りない」と感慨を免れない。「大きな願いを立てては、行動しない」と高い基準で自分を不満に思い、自分を急き立て、自分を動かす力にしている。以前新聞を取っていたときも、新聞代を払ってから読み始めた。配達員さえも「そんな人はいませんよ」と言った。

そう。周公は自分を「欠陥人間」「奇形」というが、友人の心中では「包容力ある人」だ。淡白で余り積極的でない周公でも、時に人を驚かす挙に出る。誰かの名前がよかったり、講演が素晴しかったりすると自分から話しかけるのだ。例外中の例外だが、人に対する熱さが現れている。

今でも印象に残るのは、インタビューを終えると、周公は容赦ない言葉を投げた。「今年はあと5ヶ月しかない。もう無駄にはできない」自分への厳しさは割り引かれることなく、命残り少ない今日も、変わらず筆を動かし言葉少なく、尽きない詩の道を続ける。長衣をまとった人が、颯爽と歩き続ける様が見えたようである。

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