Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Destinies and Doings

This is my older son demonstrating what a good elder brother he was! 
This picture was taken in the early 1970s.
My older daughter must be taking the picture, 
because she was the one with the camera that
took these square black and whites. 
At the top, our daughter Michele,
and in the front, Kipp, who grew up to be a Highway Patrolman!
My husband and I now have our one story retirement house in Idaho, across the street
from elder brother. It's where I am able to photograph so many ducks
near the back yard creek.

I guess this post is about the swift and terrifying passage of time. . .
and about families.


                              Elsewhere Anchises,
Fatherly and intent, was off in a deep green valley
Surveying and reviewing souls consigned there,
Those due to pass to the light of the upper world.
It so happened he was just then taking note

Of his whole posterity, the destinies and doings,
Traits and qualities of descendents dear to him,
But seeing Aeneas come wading through the grass
Towards him, he reached his two hands out
In eager joy, his eyes filled up with tears
And he gave a cry: "At last! Are you here at last?
I always trusted that your sense of right
Would prevail and keep you going to the end.
And am I now allowed to see your face,
My son, and hear you talk, and talk to you myself?

This is what I imagined and looked forward to
As I counted the days; and my trust was not misplaced.
To think of the lands and the outlying seas
You have crossed, my son, to receive this welcome.
And after such dangers! I was afraid that Africa
Might be your undoing." But Aeneas replied:
"Often and often, father, you would appear to me.
Your sad shade would appear, and that kept me going
To this end. My ships are anchored in the Tuscan sea.
Let me take your hand, my father, O let me, and do not

Hold back from my embrace." And as he spoke he wept.
Three times he tried to reach arms round that neck.
Three times the form, reached for in vain, escaped
Like a breeze between his hands, a dream on wings.

                                   ---Virgil    (70 B.C.-19 B.C.)

Translated, from the Latin, by Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013.
The New Yorker, March 7, 2016, page 27.

Try to find some recordings of Seamus reading; his voice is wonderful! We heard him read several times in the Bay Area years ago.

Tonight I am thinking about time, and the passing of time. Heaney has done quite a few translations, notably his whole huge Beowolf, which he rendered in more accessible modern English.

In this poem, notice some of the formal aspects, which add to the feeling tone of verses that were written so long ago. One of these formalities is the use of a capital letter at the beginning of each line, whether the sentence structure calls for it or not. Also, two shorter stanzas begin and end the poem, enclosing two stanzas each more than twice as long. The poem also uses a full complement of punctuation.

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