Monday, July 24, 2017

More Broken Things

One of my favorite poems: "you scorch us. " That's all that remains of a poem by Sappho. I actually prefer the translation in my Norton Anthology of Western Literature (volume I), "you burn me." (The "scorch" translation is by Philip Freeman in his new book, Searching for Sappho: The Lost Songs and World of the First Woman Poet; the "burn" translator I'll credit in a comment below, when I have a chance to get to my office and check the anthology.) scorch us... burn me...

Either way, is it not what every poem distills down to: an expression of desire, passion, longing, loss, a will to go on despite the pain inherent in living?

Today in the parking lot of my favorite restaurant, my husband and I saw a great blue heron, usually a magnificent bird that will have nothing to do with gravel parking lots. We quickly realized that this bird was injured; worse than a broken wing, a broken leg. I say worse, because the woman at the Avian Wildlife Center said there is little they can do to capture and help a bird that is still able to fly away.

And so, we are thinking once again about broken things, fragments of a poem, a useless leg on a wading bird, a heartache, a helplessness that gives us pause.

For you my lovely ones my thoughts
do not change

                       reads another Sappho fragment. And another:

their hearts grew cold
and they folded their wings

[Those last two fragments trans. Philip Freeman.]

No comments:

Post a Comment