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Showing posts from June, 2018

Virgil's "The Aeneid" translated by David Ferry

My first Aeneid, and it was a very engaging introduction. The translation read very well and I followed Virgil's storytelling eagerly, skipping over only the list of combatants and their family origins. The sack of Troy was utterly gripping. The tragedy of Dido, in this translation, was less affecting than I expected. Aeneas' reaction in the episode was remarkably muted. The Furies were terrifying; the whole descent to Hell was excellent. In the war between the Trojans and the Latins, Aeneas, destined by the Fates to win, was less interesting than the tragic figure of Turnus, war leader of the Latins. I was struck by how closely Virgil imitated Homer in terms of incidents and also tried to go one up. So the epic did not end with the siege of the Trojan's camp, as in The Iliad but went further in having the Trojans lay siege themselves to Latium, the success of which forced finally Turnus to fight Aeneas one to one. Ferry's iambic pentameter is very flexible and capable…

Books

Just read my first Flannery O'Connor - A Good Man is Hard to Find. I remember reading the title story somewhere else and it was just as good the second time. She is terrific at conjuring up a sense of mounting dread. Her characters feel real mostly because they act out of motives that are obscure even to themselves. That sense of mystery gestures to the beyond, the religious, the damned and the salvific. There is a dogged persistence to her most memorable characters, like Mr. Head and his grandson Nelson in the otherwise slight story "The Artificial Nigger." The religious symbolism is laid on a bit too thickly for my taste, but hey, I'm not of the South. The masterpieces are here: "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," "Good Country People," and "The Displaced Person." The slighter ones too: "A Stroke of Good Fortune," "A Temple of the Holy Ghost," "A Circle in the Fire," "A Late Encounter with the Enemy.…

Beyond NaPo 56

United States Virgin Islands

Let’s find
an instrument
close at hand—
an old sardine
can, white
pine wood,
a useless sack
for twine—
and join a
scratch band
that welcomes
us. United States,
we sing
of thee,
with our squash,
our cane flute,
ukelele,
and ass pipe
made from the
exhaust tube
of a car,
we sing,
make thyself
worthy of
us and make us
worthy of
thee, we sing
all together
from Twin
City, Rock
City, Love
City, from
all over,
islands old
as the
volcano
but forever
virginal.