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Greek Lyric Poetry by M L West

It’s an interesting experience coming to M. L. West’s Greek Lyric Poetry after reading Stanley Lombardo’s and Anne Carson’s Sappho translations. With Lombardo and Carson, in any of the longer fragments and even in short phrases you find yourself reading English words that immediately strike home as living poetry. To be sure, something similar can happen in short snatches in West’s translations, as in these lines addressed to a bridegroom:

How handsome you are with your gentle eyes
and your lovely face all radiant with desire.

West was of course an extremely distinguished classicist, and I can’t judge the relative accuracy … Continue Reading

The Divine Madness of Love – Stanley Lombardo’s Sappho

For me, Stanley Lombardo’s translations of Sappho are a fire-new revelation[1]. Not reading any dialect of Ancient Greek, I’ve been wholly dependent on translations for my sense of her work. Several have moved me over the years, of course – haunting versions of fragments 16, 31, and 168 in particular. Apart from these, and Michael Longley’s lovely incorporation of Fragment 104(a) into his elegy “Evening Star”, I’ve read her as if through distorting glass. I’d admired the intricacy of Poem 1 in a cerebral way but it never came alive for me as poetry. Then I read this:… Continue Reading

Review – Kelvin Corcoran, Facing West

Kelvin Corcoran, Facing West, 84 pp, £9.95, Shearsman Books.

 

“Abduction Zone”, the title sequence of the first section of Corcoran’s Facing West, illustrates some of the attractions and challenges of his writing. He’s a master of metre and rhythm, both in the singing and the speaking line. This is a constantly varied source of pleasure as he shifts between different tones, registers and contexts. However, I feel that this sequence of more than 150 lines interweaves its allusions to classical myths, classical and twentieth century Greek history and the country’s current economic and political situation too loosely and sketchily to make … Continue Reading