Wednesday, December 31, 2014

With whom is ours a Common Era?

Nightingales, Swallows, your admirers, who
Discovered each their signal songs in you,
Voiced rival dirges from opposing glades,
And one flock chafed the other: Milksop maids,
You call that grieving? Well, we're grieving, too.

Sicilian Muses, croon your sad old song.

Master thrice missed, what arrogant upstart
Would lip your pipes in mockery of your art?
Your mouth still sounds them, they still breathe your air,
And your own echoes still are straying there.
Bequeath your song to Pan? No, even Pan
Would back off, yielding mastery to a man.

Sicilian Muses ..

She lately planted on the dying Adonis.

                  Then in the incarnadine darkness
                  a great slow pulse began to beat.

  Early one summer morning when he was a boy he had watched from the kitchen a snail crawling up the window outside. The moment came back to him now, wonderfully clear, the washed sunlight in the garden, the dew, the rosebuds on the tumbledown privy, that snail. What had possessed it to climb so high, what impossible blue vision of flight reflected in the glass? The boy had trod on snails, savouring the crack and then the soft crunch, had collected them, had raced them and traded them, but never before now had he really looked at one. Pressed in a lavish embrace upon the pane, the creature gave up its frilled grey-green underparts to his gaze, while the head strained away from the glass, moving blindly from side to side, the horns weaving as if feeling out enormous forms in air. But what had held [him] was its method of crawling. He would have expected some sort of awful convulsions, but instead there was a series of uniform small smooth waves flowing endlessly upward along its length, like a visible heartbeat. The economy, the heedless beauty .. baffled him.

Moschus of Syracuse
ca 150 BC
Aaron Poochigian
The Greek Poets
  Homer to the Present
Peter Constantine
  Rachel Hadas
  Edmund Keeley
  Karen Van Dyck
W.W. Norton & Co.
op. cit.

John Banville
  A Novel
  III  Dioptrice
Secker & Warburg, 1981©

iii  John Coltrane
iv   Karlis Adlers
v    Glenn Gould
vi   Native passage
      Edward S. Curtis
      cf., Timothy Egan
             Short Nights of the
                Shadow Catcher
             Houghton Mifflin, 2012©

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