Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday commute xix: We crawl all over cities

Pushing winter out of the way - history will record, this all started with the discovery of an almond blossom by Valéry Lorenzo - and were we kind enough to winter this year; did we do it justice, not really entering our mind - we literally sweep the stage, as if clearing it for our spectacle; and this is a very heady time. People will say, we're in love, said the lyricist, putting his finger on these impulses, giving their acts a generic excuse.

But also giving them a not-very-endearing simplification. I would like to know the meaning of this tumult, too. 

An enormous vernal moon broke through an evening's shower this morning to confound my English cocker so, as to take my counsel in the matter - letting me know, en passant, that I was awake, whether I knew it or not. I led him out to chat up the worms, roiling the flower beds, and mark a trail for birds in search of breakfast. The same thing's true of cities, earthworks heaving with the extract of the hour.

Does the night begin with the day or conclude with it? It makes no difference, the outbreak goes on, as Whit observed this morning. In cities, the many little boxes stacked all over the place, which we see as such cute and prim containers of compacted, buzzing life, a swarming to their parapets is commonplace just now - one higher, one lower, making no difference, every one a crest whereon some man will stand, extruded, molting life, responding shirtlessly.

Horace heard all this, and the question caught in his throat:
So it's war again, Venus,
after all this time? ..

Then why, Ligurinus, why
do my eyes sometimes fill, even spill over?
Why, sometimes, when I'm talking
do I suddenly have nothing to say? Why
do I hold you in my arms
in certain dreams, certain nights, and in others
chase you endlessly across
the Field of Mars, into the swirling Tiber?

Odes, IV, i
Richard Howard, translation
Horace: The Odes
  New Translations by
  Contemporary Poets
J.D. McClatchy, editor
Princeton University Press, 2002©

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