Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quotes from The Oresteia by Aeschylus

CHORUS: No man can go through Life
and reach the end unharmed.
Aye, trouble is now
and trouble still to come.
- The Libation Bearers

CHORUS: But a man's life blood
is dark and mortal.
Once it wets the earth,
what song can bring it back?
Not even the master-healer
who brought the dead to life-
Zeus stopped the man before he did more harm.
- Agamemnon

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Matcha In The Morning - The Feathers of Icarus

Anna Akhmatova - Six Degrees of Separation

Funny how the six degrees of separation will actually work for matters of discovery aside from the usual Kevin Bacon sense. Not too long ago, I purchased a copy of the book A History of Reading by author Alberto Manguel. Being a self proclaimed bibliophile, I've wanted this book for quite some time. After reading a couple of pages, I decided to look up the author for more information regarding his background and discovered his website and even cooler, his 100 favourite books. I read through the list and realized that I barely knew more than half of the authors listed, so I printed off a copy of the list and decided to read these works. Second on the list was The Complete Poems of Anna Ahkmatova, a Russian poet who lived from June 23,1889 to March 5, 1966. After looking her up on the Internet, I had to read her poetry. Thanks to our library system here in Memphis, I was able to check out the complete works. Her voice is pure, clear, frustrated, angry and Russian - a spirit that refuses to expire. So far, I have read about 200 pages of her poetry (the book complete with Bibliography pages is over 900 pages long) and many of the poems are marked for my own reasons; perhaps I liked a poem due to the way she phrased her words, or others due to the imagery in my mind, or even that I could hear a Russian woman faintly speaking in my mind as I mouthed the translated words to myself.

Here is one example of her work:

Can you forgive me these November days?
Lights splinter in the Neva's waterways.
Tragic autumn's meager decorations.
(November 1913, Petersburg)

Here is another:

I asked the cuckoo
How many years I would live . . .
The tops of the pine trees quivered,
A yellow ray fell on the grass.
But not a sound in the cold grove . . .
I am going home now,
And a cooling breeze caresses
My burning brow.
(June 1, 1919 Tsarkoye Selo)

Thank you, Alberto Manguel, for introducing me to this wonderful poet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Laughter In The Dark - Vladimir Nabokov

"For a moment, he feared that his heart might burst, but then suddenly something relaxed delightfully as though he had caught the tune of his ecstasy, this moist ecstasy drumming, drumming against the taut silk overhead. Now his words came freely and he enjoyed the newborn ease."

- p. 43

The Mandarins - Simone De Beauvoir

"Hurry up, it stinks of literature in here."

"How does literature smell?"

"Like an old man who neglects himself."
- p. 186

"Catching sight of Scriassine, Henri smiled warmly; he was a fanatic, a troublemaker, intolerable, but thoroughly alive, and when he made use of words it was because he felt something deeply, not because he wanted to trade them for money, compliments, honours. With him, vanity came only afterward, and then it was nothing but a superficial whim."
- p. 288

Hirohito: Emperor of Japan by Leonard Mosley

"Yomo no umi
Mina harakara to
Omou yo ni
Nado namikaze no

The seas surround all quarters of the globe
And my heart cries out to the nations of the world.
Why then do the winds and waves of strife
Disrupt the peace between us?

- a poem written by Emperor Meiji, grandfather of Hirohito

Shadows on the Grass - Isak Dinesen

"The merriment ran along the terrace and spread to the edge of it like ripples on water. There are few things in life as sweet as this suddenly rising, clear tide of African laughter surrounding me."