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Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Ode To Man from Sophocles’ Antigone

Antigone and Ismene in a dialog about Beckett paraphrasing Hegel: if you think you know some facts about the two heroines of Sophocles, maybe it's time to forget everything and listen to the lesson given by Anne Carson. Her astonishing translation of the tragedy is faithfull to Sophocles, while going away from him, challenging the old Greek to be our contemporary.

Many terribly quiet customers exist but none more
terribly quiet than Man:
his footsteps pass so perilously soft across the sea
in marble winter,
up the stiff blue waves and every Tuesday
down he grinds the unastonishable earth
with horse and shatter.

Shatters too the cheeks of birds and traps them in his forest headlights,
salty silvers roll into his net, he weaves it just for that,
this terribly quiet customer.
He dooms
animals and mountains technically,
by yoke he makes the bull bend, the horse to its knees.

And utterance and thought as clear as complicated air and
moods that make a city moral, these he taught himself.
The snowy cold he knows to flee
and every human exigency crackles as he plugs it in:
every outlet works but
Death stays dark.

Death he cannot doom.
Fabrications notwithstanding.
honest oath taking notwithstanding.

Hilarious in his high city
you see him cantering just as he please,
the lava up to here.

(Anne Carson)



  • Thank you for sharing this. I am grateful to be introduced to Anne Carson and this work.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:42 AM  

  • Thank you Sara!

    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 8:41 AM  

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