Spanish Grave

A small pile of stones
off the coast of Skagaströnd
on a thumb of land
that juts proudly
into the North Sea.
A Viking death,
or some Viking slave,
now an unmarked grave.
The sign says simply
spænska dys. Nearby
columnar jointings
of basalt make
long nails
on a black hand
of stone. So geologic
time countermands
cardinal death, natural
monuments displace
old sympathies.
We are fascinated
by the hexagonal shapes
molten rocks take
crystallizing when sea
meets lava. The colonnades
and entablatures
seem to bend in the
northern wind.
But nothing moves,
suspended by the sea,
earth’s parallels
with human catastrophes
at last make
translations unnecessary.

George Moore

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Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."

a

August 2008
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