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1887年《旧金山检察报(San Francisco Examiner)》的老板威廉·兰多夫请来他的哈佛同学欧内斯特·泰勒负责棒球版面。1888年6月3日,擅长写讽刺文章的泰勒在报上发表了一首诗《凯西上场击球(Casey at the Bat)》。于是美国文学史和棒球史上的这首神作诞生了。

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day;

the score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

a sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

慕德维尔九人队,那天局势真不妙;

比分到了二比四,只剩一局见分晓。

此时库尼一垒出了局,巴里斯也没好到哪里去,

可怕的沉默罩球场,球迷们心惊又肉跳。

 

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest

clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

they thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –

they'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

深陷绝望的少数派,起身离去好无奈。

剩下还在坚守的,还有心中永恒的希望。

心想:只要凯西来一棒——

大家甚至愿出钱,只要凯西能上场。

 

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,

and the former was a lulu and the latter was a fake,

so upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,

for there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

可是弗林排在凯西前,还有吉米·布莱克,

弗林是个二把刀,吉米是个冒牌货。

这样的局面太严峻,球迷冷坐无语又心塞,

看来凯西上场击球的机会也不多。

 

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,

and Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;

and when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,

there was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

但见弗林来了个一垒安,全场球迷皆惊叹。

最不看好的布莱克,誓把球皮都打烂;

赛场尘土飞扬起,观众急忙定睛看,

吉米安全上二垒,弗林在三垒稳稳站。

 

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;

it rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

it knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,

for Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

忽闻欢呼声四起,5000多嗓子洪亮地吼,

欢声隆隆传山谷,呼声阵阵林间走;

回声响彻大平原,吼声让大山都颤抖,

因为凯西,全能的凯西,就要上场来击球。

 

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;

there was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,

no stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

凯西轻松走上场,胜似闲庭来信步;

脸上挂着微笑,举止透着自负。

潇洒地脱帽致意,回应观众的欢呼,

观众席里没外人,谁怀疑凯西击球的功夫。

 

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;

five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

凯西双手擦擦土,一万只眼睛紧盯看;

凯西掸掸衣服上的尘,五千名观众交口赞。

投手拧身藏球准备投,

凯西嘴角撇着点不懈,眼神透着点轻漫。
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

and Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped--

"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

皮革包裹的小球被投出,破空来袭,

而凯西只是站着,看着,庄严挺立。

小球飞过泥塑般的击球者,不睬不理——

凯西说,“这不是我要的球路。”裁判说:“一击。”

 

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,

like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.

"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;

and it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

看台黑压压人头攒动,传来一阵阵低沉的咆哮,

就像暴风雨中的巨浪,把船尾和海岸猛敲。

“打死他!打死那个裁判!”,有人在观众席大叫;

好像凯西不抬手,裁判就要被他们干掉。

 

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;

he stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;

he signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;

but Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said: "Strike two."

 

带着基督徒般纯洁的微笑,伟大的凯西面容熠熠发光;

他平息观众的骚动,他让比赛继续进行;

他给投手一个示意,于是球又旋转着飞来;

但是凯西仍然视而不见,裁判说:“两击。”
"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;

but one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,

and they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

“假球!”数千观众怒声吼,“假球!”数千声音在回荡;

凯西转脸轻蔑看,观众不敢再嚷嚷。

大家见他脸色已铁青,大家见他肌肉已膨胀,

大家知道凯西不会对球再观望。

 

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;

he pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

and now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

轻蔑已经从凯西的嘴角消失,只剩下恨恨紧咬的牙关;

他重重地用球棒敲打本垒板。

只见投手握住球,只见投手投出球,

只见空气都被凯西的大棒打成碎片。
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

and somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

but there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

哦,在这幸福的国度,总有阳光普照的地方;

总有乐队欢歌的地方,总有心情畅快的地方,

总有人们喜笑颜开的地方,总有孩子们放声大喊的地方;

可是慕德维尔却没有欢笑——因为全能的凯西被三振出场。

编者:如何翻译得更好,欢迎公众号留言探讨。

 

这首诗的大意是讲最后一局慕德维尔棒球队2:4落后,翻盘的希望寄托在他们的明星球员凯西身上。他的队友库尼和巴里斯不幸出局,然后两个不被看好的弱棒弗林和吉米奇迹般地安打,分别攻到了三垒和二垒。这时候凯西上场了,只要他击出一记好球,非常有望扳平甚至反超比分。然而他托大地放过了两个好球没有挥棒,第三个好球挥空被三振出局,球队输掉了比赛。

对于棒球了解甚少的朋友,可能很难顺畅地理解全诗。这和当时美国读者的情况也差不多,发表后反响寥寥的。毕竟那时候棒球刚开始兴起,也没有形成全国性的联盟比赛,属于个别地区小圈子的运动。

两个月后诗作通过泰勒的同学圈流传到东海岸,重新发表在《纽约体育时报》上,并且把虚构的地名慕德维尔改为了波士顿,凯西改成了波士顿的当家球星凯利,但也没获得多少读者。

1888年8月14日,纽约百老汇瓦莱克剧院的老板邀请纽约巨人队和芝加哥白袜队的队员观看喜剧表演。歌唱演员徳沃夫·霍伯觉得要为这些特殊的观众额外带来点什么。他一个朋友从兜里掏出揉皱的一张登着《凯西上场击球》的报纸,建议他来上一段。于是在演出间隙,霍伯为所有观众朗诵了这首诗。也许是这首诗本身的魅力,也许是霍伯精彩的演绎,现场的观众听得如痴如醉,几乎忘了正剧的演出。

霍伯没想到有这样的效果,于是他把《凯西上场击球》的朗诵当成了他的保留剧目,每逢上台,就会清清嗓子,开始“The outlook wasn't brilliant。。。”

大概到1900年,几乎每个美国人都听过或读过了《凯西上场击球》这首诗。大家都知道霍伯是朗诵者,但并没有人知道真正的作者是谁。

终于又过了3年,在百老汇罗切斯特剧院的一次演出后,有人把霍伯介绍给了泰勒。在这次私人俱乐部活动上,大家都鼓动泰勒自己朗诵一段。霍伯说,这大概是他听到的最糟糕的一次朗诵:甜美、轻声细语的哈佛腔,实在无法表演现场球迷汹涌的怒吼。于是霍伯继续为该诗代言。据他本人回忆,他一共正式朗诵过10000多次。

《凯西上场击球》流传越来越广,成为美国的文学经典。一个个凯西化身舞台剧、歌曲、书籍、漫画、电视和电影的主角,进到大众文化生活里,在棒球成为美国的全民娱乐(National Pastime)的过程中,起到了推波助澜的作用。

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棒球起源于1850年左右。它适应了大众对工业革命后环境肮脏、工作乏味、生活快节奏的抗争心态。棒球比赛构筑了一个短暂的人造乡村环境,人们可以在那儿重新体味慢节奏娱乐,缅怀已经回不去的田园生活。《凯西上场击球》反映了美国人的一些特质,也反映了棒球运动的一些特质,所以当时读来特别有亲切感和新奇感。

首先美国人是奉行个人英雄主义的。棒球击球员上场击球,要有以一敌九的勇气。凯西吸引全场的目光,扮演的是改变比赛、拯救球队的英雄角色,全场观众都盼望着这样一个英雄的出现。

其次美国人又特别推崇团队的力量:即使是角色球员,也会有机会发光发热,成为一个好汉的三个帮。诗中的弗林和吉米,公认的弱棒,但奇迹般的连续安打,占据了二垒和三垒得分的位置,保留了反败为胜的希望。如果他们不能上垒,那比赛就结束了,凯西连上场的机会也没有。如果慕德维尔队赢得比赛,弗林和吉米也是当之无愧的英雄。

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未来是不确定和复杂的,很多时候美国式的英雄喜欢用自大和自嘲来掩盖自己普通的一面。凯西表面上漫不经心,其实他确实对击打的来球要有选择。如果只能普通安打跑回一分还是输。弗林和吉米这样安打可以,但凯西不行,一定要憋足劲打全垒打,得三分反超。这也是英雄的宿命。对方的投手显然也是一个狠角,充分掌握了凯西的心理,利用投球的变化与他对决。

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凯西虽然输了球,但下一场比赛他还要走上打席,面对比赛。大家会发现自己的球队、甚至生活和工作中,都会有凯西这样的角色——寄托着人们的希望,他们也似乎喜欢承受这样的压力。