Sunday, April 15, 2007
I wanted to learn to read ancient Greek at one time. Bought some books. Looked for courses, a teacher. Reading Anne Carson's translation of four plays by Euripides brings that old desire back. Partly because as I read the plays in her book, "Grief Lessons," I can't help but wonder how much of what I'm hearing is Carson and how much Euripides. This is an old story in translation. Just the other day, before the storm brought five inches of rain and kept me inside all Sunday, I was out walking and listening to a poetry reading on my iPod. The poet was reading a bunch of versions of the opening stanza of The Inferno -- translations from across decades. From Chapman to Heaney. Oh, it was marvelous to listen to the same verse rendered over and over. The familiar "midway" or "at the midpoint" and the dark woods or forest. Each rendition contained Dante's voice as well as that of the translator. So at night as I'm reading and falling asleep to Hekabe or Hippolytos, I hear lines throughout Carson's translation that sound so Carsonish, as if lifted from one of her poems. Like encountering one of her children. It's still raining here.