Blog Post

Everyone has a message to share. But apart from our friends and family, and our fervent supporters, we often don’t have the audience we wish we had.


Whether communicating for personal or professional reasons, we often struggle to captivate our audience(s). Our time is characterized by social media preponderance, and we all tend to think that social media are the ultimate channels for sharing our messages. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use Facebook or Twitter; easy and cheap doesn’t (always) mean bad. What easy and cheap (always) means is that everyone can do it. Social media’s prevalence diminishes its power, and our messages may not get through, even with fantastic targeting methods and big dissemination budgets.


So what can you do?


We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking only in digital terms.


The pursuit of new technologies makes us blind to the real life beyond social media. People still go to school, work, and the gym. They still interact with others. This is your unique chance to start crafting your communication strategy – start mapping your TOUCH POINTS where you can interact with people who might find your cause interesting. Whether you write a blog about healthy eating or you work for an NGO to save a disappearing species, you can always start with this exercise.


Let’s say you want to design a campaign that encourages people to make better food choices to curtail overfishing. Once you identify the ‘model’ representative of your selected target audience, I invite you to consider where, exactly, you could meet him or her.


In real life, we would need to make a strategic decision about which group(s) of people we should target. For the sake of this text, let’s make an uninformed guess and choose parents between the ages of 35-45 who do the shopping for the entire family.


Imagine Johansson and Becky, the parents of two kids – a toddler girl, and an 8-year-old boy. Because they both work, they’re busy and tired. How could you interact with these parents? Kindergarten and school are the first places that come to mind, but let’s think further. Restaurants and cafés that are kid-friendly; parks; food take-aways. Maybe pre-cut frozen foods shops (like Pickard).


Mapping these places is your starting point. How exactly you will lead your campaign depends on many factors, but now you know which tools you can take into consideration.


You don’t always need to chase new social media trends. If you don’t know how Snapchat works, it’s not the end of the world. While it’s true we live in times of constant change, there are some things that stay the same. You’ll find the people you’re looking for if you look in the right places.


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Reading the Lyrics: Louise Bogan’s Ascendant Unconscious

“Friendship” makes, with its absence and its presence, realities of all the realities we encounter. -Joshua Beckman


The act of reading a lyric poem­—the expression of a single voice—is less and more than a universal experience. Less than universal, it concentrates the efforts of an exchange that often has, as its prerogative, the resolution or correction of an implied rhetorical relationship that is deeply and personally explored, imagined, and felt. Treading into this exchange can yield a sense of exclusion as its initial effect. But that exclusion is what allows the reader into more than a “universal” situation, that is, a situation that is not broadly actualized, but one that renders the familiar, the emotionally true.


The sensation of truth in a poem steals into the reader when what she has read agrees with and energizes her subconscious ability to experience empathy.


An apple and the moon are both universal; any reader will recognize these objects and form, from hearing the words, a mental composite. In doing so, every reader will also bring connotative baggage along and flesh out each of these archetypes from without and within—the apples she has eaten and the apple Eve ate, the moon itself in the current sky and the moon of nursery rhymes, cheese, Neil Armstrong, and werewolves. But since these universal composites are universal, they do nothing to elicit empathy. Only when the poet introduces a lyric relationship, with all of its surrounding inner and outer forms and devices, does the universal transcend into the emotive realm.


Take Louise Bogan’s “The Crossed Apple”


I’ve come to give you fruit from out my orchard,
Of wide report.
I have trees there that bear me many apples.
Of every sort:

Clear, streaked; red and russet; green and golden;
Sour and sweet.
This apple’s from a tree yet unbeholden,
Where two kinds meet, –

So that this side is red without a dapple,
And this side’s hue
Is clear and snowy. It’s a lovely apple.
It is for you.

Within are five black pips as big as peas,
As you will find,
Potent to breed you five great apple trees
Of varying kind:

To breed you wood for fire, leaves for shade,
Apples for sauce.
Oh, this is a good apple for a maid,
It is a cross,

Fine on the finer, so the flesh is tight,
And grained like silk.
Sweet Burning gave the red side, and the white
Is Meadow Milk.

Eat it, and you will taste more than the fruit:
The blossom, too,
The sun, the air, the darkness at the root,
The rain, the dew,

The earth we came to, and the time we flee,
The fire and the breast.
I claim the white part, maiden, that’s for me.
You take the rest.


Bogan’s elaborate rhythms and her use of color and texture and technique at first blush obscure the subtle way in which this poem makes its emotional inroads. The speaker comes from a vast, lush orchard “of wide report” to make a gift of a “yet unbeholden” apple to a maiden. With the sweet language “It is for you” and “Oh, this is a good apple for a maid,” the speaker sneakily introduces—without overt explanation—us to the fullest range of human emotion—pride, tenderness, sensuality, and eventually the envy and protectiveness of the maid’s claim to the “fire” and the “earth we came to” when the speaker takes half the apple’s promise away. The ending of the poem produces an emotional impact that you would not expect given the relatively simple setting: an apple given, an apple taken away.



In one of Bogan’s late poems, “July Dawn,” the lyric enters a meditative mode. In his essay “Meditative Modes,” Eric Pankey writes:

In the meditative mode, a poet can undermine the lyric’s drive toward, and love of, closure, without ever giving up on the moment of lyric insight, what Wordsworth calls “spots of time,” James Joyce calls “epiphanies,” and Virginia Woolf calls “moments of being.” Lyric insight within the lyric moment.


Here is the poem.





July Dawn


It was a waning crescent

Dark on the wrong side

On which one does not wish

Setting in the hour before daylight

For my sleepless eyes to look at.


O, as a symbol of dis-hope

Over the July fields,

Dissolving, waning.

In spite of its sickle shape.


I saw it and thought it new

In that short moment

That makes all symbols lucky

Before we read them rightly.


Down to the dark it swam,

Down to the dark it moved,

Swift to that cluster of evenings

When curved toward the full it sharpens.


In his talk from the Bagley Wright Lecture Series, Joshua Beckman discusses how

The movement of a taking a walk can guide you through a poem—the kind of walk where, when asked what you are doing, you would reply “taking a walk.”

Making intuitive and sensual decisions

Sometimes you’re taken by something

Parts of the walk elevating in meaningfulness and parts of it floating away almost unnoticed, the endless mystery of its uncontrolled and unfolding perspective, can feel like the poem. While we easily recognize their stable characteristics, we can feel, especially in the acts of deeply encountering them, some aspects of the accumulated moments of the poem’s experience.

Little connections knock against you throughout your day.


In reading and re-reading “July Dawn” we are knocked against by these ‘little connections’ if we have, in fact, walked with them. I am taken by something—that short moment that makes all symbols lucky before we read them rightly—and have been taken by it as it has knocked against me year over year. I cannot say that I have understood it, but that has not made it less true, nor less evocative of a truth I have yet to discover. Instead, the empathic reach of this meditation has ingratiated itself as a subconscious tool that I seem to use as I interpret the symbols I do not expect to see in the world. This use of the audience as an implied connective tissue to complete the elegiac quality of the poem without which it could not succeed is what sets lyrics like Bogan’s apart from poetry that could be characterized as narrative, confessional, pastoral, or speculative.



“The artist’s task, then, involves the transformation of the actual to the true. And the ability to achieve such transformations, especially in art that presumes to be subjective, depends on conscious willingness to distinguish truth from honesty or sincerity. …

To recapitulate: the source of art is experience, the end product truth, and the artist, surveying the actual, constantly intervenes and manages, lies and deletes, all in the service of truth.”


“The advantage of poetry over life is that poetry, if it is sharp enough, may last. We are unnerved, I suppose, by the thought that authenticity, in the poem, is not produced by sincerity. We incline, in our anxiety for formulas, to be literal”

Louise Glück, “Against Sincerity”



Let’s take one of Bogan’s early poems, “Girl’s Song”


Winter, that is a fireless room

In a locked house, was our love’s home.

The days turn, and you are not here,

O changing with the little year!


Now when the scent of plants half-grown

Is more the season’s than their own

And neither sun nor wind can stanch

The gold forsythia’s dripping branch,—


Another maiden, still not I,

Looks from some hill upon some sky,

And, since she loves you, and she must,

Puts her young cheek against the dust.


And a mature poem, “Song for a Lyre”


The landscape where I lie

Again from boughs sets free

Summer; all night must fly

In wind’s obscurity

The thick, green leaves that made

Heavy the August shade.


Soon, in the pictured night,

Returns—as in a dream

Left after sleep’s delight—

The shallow autumn stream:

Softly awake, its sound

Poured on the chilly ground.


Soon fly the leaves in throngs;

O love, though once I lay

Far from its sound, to weep,

When night divides my sleep,

When stars, the autumn stream,

Stillness, divide my dream,

Night to your voice belongs.



In both of these poems, we learn a great deal about the way in which Bogan’s view of womanhood changed. Her use of lyric despondence in “Girl’s Song” betrays a vision of woman as overly emotional, incapable of loving in a controlled way, destined to being abandoned by a male lover whose very existence necessitates sacrificial devotion and full corporeal submission. Both poems make use of the pastoral as a pivot point that anchors and frees the woman from her obligation to chain herself to the torrent of Feeling. In each case, the vantage point of the speaker is defined by remove: “some hill upon some sky,” “wind’s obscurity.” Each poem makes overt use of the word “must.” But only in the second poem does the lyric fail to resolve. Rather than closing the poem up tight, as she does in “Girl’s Song,” Bogan leaves “Song for a Lyre” open and divided.


In A Poet’s Prose, Bogan is cited as writing “if you are to have the full benefit of the richness of the Subconscious, you must learn to write easily and smoothly when the Unconscious is in the ascendant” and “It is hard for me to remember anything by an act of will. It is my tendency to live critically, even hysterically, in the moment, without review or reference. But when I was not alone, I had a dream of nourishing loneliness.” In the dreamer’s dream of loneliness, an other is always implied. Bogan’s lyrics offer that other place to us, to take up and explore. It is our own empathy, as we wander away from her poems, that fulfills their realities.




Louise Bogan, The Blue Estuaries (Poems 1923-1968)

Radiant Lyre: Essays on Lyric Poetry

Louise Glück: “Against Sincerity”

Joshua Beckman: Bagley Wright Lecture Series

A Poet’s Prose: Selected Writings of Louise Bogan


Mark Slouka’s “The Crossing,” A Study In Suspense

Slouka manages to employ an unusual level of suspense and tenderness in this story. Admittedly, the plot and the situations of the story – a rushing river, a father eager to please his small son, a divided family – are already given to suspense and tenderness. But what is it that makes the development and the climax of the story get our hearts beating so fast? By dropping breadcrumbs in the opening paragraphs the author gives us a taste of the world outside the events of the story without revealing enough about them to satisfy our imaginations. He then ingratiates us into the world of the father and puts us on his side, before throwing him back into doubt. Finally, he makes us choose – the beauty of the earth or the sanctity of father and son?

The information that Slouka scatters in the beginning of the story make us want more, and it makes us care deeply about what happens to father and son. We glimpse the son’s smallness and, indeed, his entire childhood in those “miniature jeans.” We glimpse the father’s deep depression in the simple sentence “and he hadn’t been happy in a while.” We know the father has a history with and love for the river valley: “nothing much had changed.” Later, we learn more about his need for “the nests of vines like something scratched out, the furred trunks, soft with rot,” but before we acquire that intimate knowledge, Slouka has already made him into an expert on the place. Of particular interest to us readers is the description of how the father picks up the boy from his regular home (with his mother). We know the boy’s parents are divorced, separated. We learn that perhaps the father has done something wrong, because of his hope that “maybe—maybe he could make this right.” We see his care for his son – care not to hit the boy’s head on the ceiling when he playfully tosses him over his shoulder.

As the boy’s mother shakes her head, still in a bathrobe, we enter firmly into the father’s corner. We want him to succeed with his son and take him to the wild place by the river he loves so much. We want to know why he loves the river, and what has gone missing from his heart and his body that the river can bring back.

The second key device that Slouka uses to endear us to the world of the story is even more important; he subverts the father’s authority. As we go into the river country with father and son, we are greeted with Queen Anne’s Lace, the promise of a campfire, and elk – with beauty and hope. After fording the river all this will be possible, and more. The river flows slowly over rocks. But suddenly, “he felt a small shock, as if he were looking at a house he’d grown up in but now barely recognized. The river was bigger than he remembered it, stronger; it moved like a swiftly flowing field.” He considers turning back. Anxiety defines him. And yet all he says to his son is “‘Well, there she is.’”

The reader has entered a position of knowledge and distrust; we now fear for both father and son and feel an even stronger affection for the boy than we did before. We feel as determined to cross the river with them as ever, but we have lost the ability to trust the father’s skill or his understanding of the wildness to which he is trying to return.

When father and son successfully cross the river, and arrive at the barn, we have further bonded with each of them. Suddenly, Dad is an expert again, and the world is a beautiful and enchanting place. The “barn was just where he remembered it, standing against the trees like a rib cage.” As we observe him making preparations for the night ahead, we feel safer, warmer, as does his son. Slouka describes them deftly: the son’s question “‘Do the elk have to sleep in the rain?’”and the father’s putting “his arm around him—that tiny shoulder, tight as a nest” tell us more about this boy and this man than anything else could.

All this, against the backdrop of careful images seeded in a scattered but deliberate pattern – the “white noise” of the river, the “stars through the missing places in the roof” of the barn, “car-sized boulders nudged together like eggs,” the “hollow tock of the stones knocking against each other in the deeper water” – prepares us for the second fording of the river. This heartbreaking painting of scenes and descriptions makes us appreciate the intractable world for its beauty as much as we love father and son for their need and vulnerability. And when they cross the river the second time, our hearts go into our throats – for them, for their failure, for the father’s burning love for his son, for the boy’s tiny existence, and for the wildness that can’t help but be what it is.

Capernaum Travel Script

The city’s original name, Kfar Nahum, simply means The Village of Nahum. In other words, it was named for someone named Nahum. But the Greeks translated Kfar Nahum as Capernaum, and the Gospels and the writings of Joseph Flavius use the word Capernaum. Thus, “Capernaum” persists in modern language to this day.


Major historical events that took place in Capernaum are preserved in the Scriptures.


Capernaum’s location, along the banks of a lake filled with fish, and its proximity to the Tabgha’ springs and the Via Maris, allowed early citizens to devote themselves to both fishing and agriculture. They also benefited from commercial traffic between Galilee and Damascus.


Jesus was active in the village of Capernaum. He chose it as the center of his public ministry in Galilee. And according to the Gospels, there were apostles living in Capernaum. It’s said that one house belong to Pierre. Jesus may have stayed there. There is a synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus purportedly prayed every Saturday.


But in later centuries, especially after the Arab period beginning in the seventh century, the village, whose inhabitants were mostly Christian, failed. Capernaum was abandoned within two hundred years. Buildings collapsed, houses were destroyed, and nature slowly reclaimed everything in the area, including the stone. All that remained was desolation and ruin.


For hundreds of years, no one knew the location of Capernaum; it was buried by earth and time.


Practically untouched, Capernaum was rediscovered in the late nineteenth century when the Custody of the Holy Land claimed the area and began initial excavations.


The White Synagogue was unearthed in 1905. Professor Gaudenzio Orfali conducted archaeological research in 1921, and the Franciscan fathers Corbo Loffreda further explored and researched the synagogue in 1969. Excavations continued for another thirteen years, until they found what they were looking for: twenty-five open trenches, inside and outside the synagogue.


Why has there been so much interest in the White Synagogue? The existence of a synagogue in Capernaum in the Byzantine era is tangible proof that this small, first-century fishing village experienced economic growth for many years after Jesus lived there.


This prosperity can be explained by the Christian community’s fervent belief, and the inhabitants’ willingness to sacrifice anything to settle in the village that had received the Messiah and some of his apostles.


Why do we call it the White Synagogue?


The first thing you will notice about the synagogue is its brilliant white color. Natural light reflects off the synagogue’s white limestone and contrasts with the rest of the village, where the houses are made of black basalt stones.


This synagogue could not be the place where Jesus taught, because according to recent excavations and the coins that were discovered there, it was built in the fifth century.


Further, it’s likely that the places where Jesus and his followers prayed were private houses and dwellings, not public buildings.


The White Synagogue and the basilica of Peter’s house were very close to each other, which suggests that the two communities were at peace.


The synagogue consists of three parts. The most important section is on the west side: this is the prayer room itself. Rectangular in shape, it means 20.2 by 18.65 meters. Its architecture resembles a basilica, in that it has a central nave, two side wings, and a rear wing.


Aligned on a stylobate, or pedestal, sixteen columns divide the space. Two rows of stone benches flanked the peripheral walls of the east and the west wings. Painted plaster and stucco, the lime of antiquity, decorated the prayer room’s interior walls. We can count three separate entrances to the synagogue, arranged in the front and on the south side.


As is the case with other Galilee synagogues, the White Synagogue is oriented southward, toward Jerusalem. Contrary to most Christian churches, worshippers entered the synagogue from the front. The scrolls of the Law, which were read during religious assemblies, were preserved permanently on this south, central side of the nave.


The central door’s attractive lintel is decorated with graceful palm trees carved in the limestone. This limestone would have been extracted from quite far away and brought back to build the synagogue.


The smaller eastern side of the synagogue, to your right, is trapezoidal. The southern wall, 11.25 meters wide, is somewhat shorter than the north wall. This part of the building consisted of an open-air courtyard, surrounded by porticos supported by eleven columns on a stylobate. These porticos would have been covered by a roof on three sides. This area was not used for prayer but for community gatherings.


Along the front of the building we have the porch. Because the synagogue was in the middle of the village, close to houses, it was not practical to build an imposing porch. In fact, the porch is accessible by two side staircases. It’s nearly thirty meters long, and connects to the village’s two main streets.


Was the synagogue’s second floor reserved for women? Some argue that the staircase behind the synagogue testifies to this. But others argue that the walls and columns could not have supported a second floor. The question remains a mystery.


On the pavement’s stone slabs, “games” are engraved. These probably date from the Arab period when the synagogue fell into disuse. Indeed, the prayer room and the synagogue’s main stone walls display the same “games.”


Although Capernaum’s White Synagogue dates from the fifth century, it may not be the first synagogue to be built on the site. Excavations conducted in the 1970s uncovered the foundations of an older synagogue. The wall of the fifth century synagogue doesn’t follow the black wall’s lines, but it’s clear the builders attempted to try and follow it as closely as possible.


At what point, then, did this first construction occur? Opinions on the subject are divided, but the discovery of a basalt floor indicates that this initial construction dates to the first century. It would belong to the floor of the synagogue that existed in Jesus’s time, one that is cited in the Gospel of Luke. According to the story, a Roman centurion built that synagogue. But not all authors have reached a consensus on this theory.


This matter is unresolved, and it seems unlikely that it will ever be settled. The White Synagogue’s security prevents it from being more carefully and systematically searched, protecting its historical secrets.


We are left to admire the stunning decorative elements. Lintels, capitals, cornices: all these prove the synagogue had a luxury surpassing all that had been built up to that point.


The White Synagogue of Capernaum is one of Israel’s best-preserved synagogues. Its pristine condition allows you to experience the Holy Land in an authentic way, transporting you back to the origins of Christendom.


The institution of the synagogue has persisted through the centuries. The synagogue and its customs remain, to this day, a pillar of Judaism; the word synagogue designates both the community gathering around the Torah and the place where the gathering occurs.

Metaphysical Poetry and Extended Metaphor in Dante’s Vita Nuova

In Vita Nuova, Dante’s primary aim, within his circular structure of prose and poetry, is to carefully examine the new life his encounters with Beatrice have afforded him. Dante himself observes—and is sometimes utterly bewildered by—the effects love has on him, but he grants personal agency to Love and repeatedly characterizes him as a wandering spirit, or “pilgrim,” and as a young man and a master. These characterizations of Love make it possible for Dante to arrange and present his love for Beatrice as a universal, received experience, and his use of extended metaphor frames remembered events and feelings within a larger, shared human context. Metaphysical poetry is often described as poetry that asks questions, gives orders, and juxtaposes simplistic language with complex, drawn-out imagery and exaggerated metaphor. Particularly important metaphors and images in Vita Nuova include the heart, the pilgrim, the eyes, and the mouth / the sigh. As part of this effort, Dante periodically uses the Latin language to anchor his own language, Italian, to its literary heritage. In order to interpret love, truth, and memory, Dante gives physical form to the concept of love and tethers a rich array of literary devices to subjective moments and dreams.

Dante vigorously champions love poets’ use of the vernacular (Italian) in chapter XXV. Yet Vita Nuova’s opening chapter leads with a line in Latin: “Here begins a new life [incipit vita nuova]” (3). Throughout the text, notably at the beginning, middle, and end, Dante employs Latin in crucial moments to establish his work’s position within the tradition of Latin epic poetry and love poetry. In XXV, he writes “if any image or colouring of words is conceded to the Latin poets, it should be conceded to the Italian poet” (54), and cites examples of Latin poets such as Virgil, Lucan, Horace, and Ovid, who have “spoken to inanimate objects as if they possessed sense and reason” and “did this not only real things but also with unreal things” (54). He further clarifies that any poet would suffer “great embarrassment” if, “having written things in the dress of an image or rhetorical colouring… [he] would not be able to strip his words of such dress in order to give them their true meaning” (55). Dante makes it clear that he uses personification and extended metaphor to speak to inanimate things—in his case, feelings and sensations—in order to allow real things to transcend to unreal, imagined planes. He does so to breathe startling meaning into feelings, not to render his experiences of love as imaginary or fantastic events.

Dante’s use of Latin and his use of exaggerated metaphor in Vita Nuova constitute some of the many conceits that crystallize the unruly breadth of memory into a surprisingly understandable topic. In XII, a weeping Dante returns to his room and encounters Love as a young man dressed in white clothes. Love speaks in Latin, saying “’My son, it is time to do away with our pretences [Fili mi, tempus est ut pretermictantur simulacra nostra]’” (19). An encouraged Dante asks Love why he is also weeping, to which Love responds, in Latin, “’I am like the center of a circle, equidistant from all points on the circumference, but you are not [Ego tamquam centrum circuli, cui simili modo se habent circumferentie partes, tu autem non sic]’” (19). The young and impressionable Dante is here undergoing a long experience that he cannot understand; but, in retrospect, the experience is psychologically accessible and anticipatory. Presenting it in Latin from the mouth of personified Love gives weight to the mysterious, ineffable, yet quantifiable presence of his love for Beatrice and the grace she fills him with. Love, even as one who has already been present in the future and comprehended the fullness of its scope, weeps. Prior to this encounter with Love, Dante says that “whoever might have wished to know what Love is, could have done so by looking at my trembling eyes” (18). Dante later writes, in XXV, that “Love does not exist in itself as a substance, but rather it is an accident in substance” (Musa 53). Because of the extraordinary way Dante experiences love, it gains a physicality and solidness that he can address and interrogate, and Love, in turn, can communicate with him.

The notion that personified love is an “accident in substance” justifies and expands the significance of the many guises in which Love appears to Dante. Love appears, variously, as a wandering pilgrim, a master, and a young man. Love’s repeated appearances as a master seem to imply that Dante himself, writing from the future at a time when he has been “changed,” another word that appears frequently in Vita Nuova, has been instructed by Love and transformed by Love and by Beatrice into a man with enough wisdom and talent to create an artistic work that is interpretive and fluid. When Love is a master, Dante is a poet working within a canzone, because he “would not be able to tell this in the short space of a sonnet” (57). The canzone in XXVII begins

So long a time has Love kept me a slave
and in his lordship fully seasoned me,

that even though at first I felt him harsh,

now tender is his power in my heart. (p.59)

But earlier, in XXIV, Dante writes a sonnet that he says “has many parts,” in which “it seemed that Love revealed himself to me all joyous in my heart coming from a faraway place” (52):

I saw the Lord of Love approaching me,

and hardly recognized him through his joy.

‘Think now of nothing but to honour me,’

I heard him say and each word was a smile;

and as my master stayed awhile with me,

I looked along the way that he had come

and saw the Lady Joan and Lady Bice

advancing toward the place in which I stood:

a miracle upon a miracle!

And as my memory tells me of it now,

Love said to me: ‘The first of these is Spring,

and she who so resembles me is Love.’ (p.52)


Dante’s coy use of the phrase “as my memory tells me of it now” suggests that only now, in the future present, can he interpret his vision of Love, the master, and possibly even suggests that Love is most profoundly understandable not in its lived moment but in later reflection. In XVIII, Dante writes that “after reflecting much…it seemed to me that I had undertaken too lofty a theme for myself, so that…I remained for several days afterwards with the desire to write and the fear of beginning” (34). At this stage of Vita Nuova, Dante is still working with memory in a naïve and anticipatory way. As John Kleiner writes, “While the poems before Beatrice’s death look forward to the future for their explication, the poems that follow Beatrice’s death depend on a revelation that has already occurred” (Kleiner 89). Yet in III, following a sonnet in which Dante writes of the dream-vision in which Love “woke [Beatrice] then and trembling and obedient // she ate that burning heart out of his hand” (Musa p.7), he makes the profoundly surprising statement that “the true interpretation of the dream I described was not perceived by anyone then, but now it is very clear to even the least sophisticated” (7). The mature Dante is present in his circle, even at this early “equidistant” point (which is thematically equal in importance to all its other points), to claim that once his past work has been completed, his treatise will make clear to even the most uninitiated—which includes his past self—that the nature of Love can be fully understood through a series of artistic devices that lend meaning to experience. Gregory Stone writes that

the dream’s “true meaning” (Dante’s aim in inscribing it into his libello) is nothing other than its extreme overdetermination, its great plurality of senses: its meaning is that it is meaningful – that is, full of meaning…Dante’s aim is not to communicate any one single or specific sense but rather to attribute to his text (the dream and the sonnet) a general aura of semantic richness. (Stone 140)

The sheer plurality of imagery and devices throughout Vita Nuova, then, contribute in two ways to the understanding of memory and love. First, in the early chapters, Dante’s poetry and prose instill in the reader a great sense of expectation that understanding will arrive and be received through the poetry that captures Beatrice’s qualities and articulates Love’s substantive nature. Second, in the middle and later chapters, Dante’s shift in tone after Beatrice’s death from one of an overwhelmed admirer to one of a transformed, reflective artist determined to dwell with her risen spirit cement in the reader’s mind the belief that Love has been captured, by a sensitive mind, as a fully-imagined spirit that is both unique (to the lover) and ubiquitous (for all lovers, in unique ways).

In the sonnet in IX, love appears “in pilgrim’s rags” (p.15) and

‘[comes] from that far land,

where I had sent your heart to serve my will;

I bring it back to court a new delight.’” (p.16).


Love here acts as an emissary and as a motivator for Dante’s actions and responses. Given the vitality of the language Dante assigns to Love, Dante seems to view his own love for Beatrice as the only aspect that is noble enough to wander close to Beatrice’s divine spirit. Love, the pilgrim of Dante’s psyche, has traveled out from Dante, dwelled with Beatrice, and returned to the man who is as yet unable to do the work of acting as an emissary for Beatrice’s message of grace on earth. Only in XL does Dante begin to attempt this work in his own right, when pilgrims arrive in his city. He writes that “If I could detain them awhile, I certainly would make them weep before they left this city, for I could speak words that would make anyone listening to them weep” (80). In the accompanying sonnet, Dante “[knows], from what my sighing heart is saying, / that afterwards you will depart in tears” (p.81). In XLI, he explains that in his sonnet his “thought ascends into the nature of this lady to such a degree that my mind cannot grasp it, for our mind functions in relation to those blessed souls as the weak eye does in relation to the sun” (Musa 82). The sonnet in full reads

Beyond the sphere that makes the widest round,

passes the sigh which issues from my heart;

a strange, new understanding that sad Love

imparts to it keeps urging it on high.

When it has reached the place of its desiring,

it sees a lady held in reverence,

splendid in light, and through her radiance

the pilgrim spirit gazes at her being.

But when it tries to tell me what it saw,

I cannot understand the subtle words

it speaks to the sad heart that makes it speak.

I know it talks of that most gracious one,

because it often mentions Beatrice;

that much is very clear to me, dear ladies. (p.83)


In this sonnet multiple images that have special significance in earlier chapters of Vita Nuova reach and transcend their apex of importance and interpretation: the sphere, the eyes, the sigh, sad Love, the pilgrim spirit, light, words and speech (the mouth). Ronald Martinez points out that “Dante imagines increasingly more far-flung audiences, going beyond the “fedeli d’amore” to consider addressing pilgrims in “Deh, peregrini” and finally projecting his spirit and voice beyond the physical cosmos” (Martinez 19). Indeed, the last line of the book, in XLII, reads, in Latin, “who is through all ages blessed [qui est per omnia secula benedictus]” (Musa 84).

The imagery in this final sonnet has been established as illuminating and significant throughout Vita Nuova in Dante’s descriptions of Beatrice’s heavenly face. In the two sonnets in XXVI, Dante writes of Beatrice’s effect on others: “every tongue is stammering then mute, / and eyes dare not to gaze at such a sight” (p.56).

[H]er sweetness through the eyes reaches the heart;

who has not felt this cannot understand.

And from her lips it seems there moves a spirit

so gentle and so loving that it glides

into the souls of men and whispers, “Sigh!” (p.57)

In an earlier sonnet in XXI, ‘The power of Love,’ “the heart of him she greets is made to quake, // his face to whiten, forcing down his gaze” (p.41). And

The image of her when she starts to smile

breaks out of words, the mind cannot contain it,

a miracle too rich and strange to hold. (p.41)

In his explanatory prose, Dante writes that he “[does] not mention how this last act of her mouth works in the hearts of people because the memory is not capable of retaining the image of such a smile nor its effects” (42). It is curious and significant that Dante here chooses both to describe and to not explain the “miracle too rich and strange to hold” of Beatrice’s smile, given that the power of the two greetings she bestows on him is central to the significance of his new life. In XIX, Dante says “First I speak of her eyes, which are the initiators of love; next I speak of her mouth, which is the supreme desire of my love…this lady’s greeting, which is an act performed by her mouth; namely, that it was the goal of all my desire so long as I was able to receive it” (Musa 38). The significance of the eyes, the mouth, and the sighs they cause to issue in the heart becomes clear, given the context of the final sonnet in XLI and the vision in III. In the vision, the lordly master, Love, holds Beatrice’s body within flames and makes her eat Dante’s heart. In the sonnet that follows,

trembling and obedient

she ate that burning heart out of his hand;

weeping I saw him then depart from me” (p.7).

Present here is the “trembling” later ascribed to Dante’s loving eyes, and the heart from which a sigh, in the end, issues.

The sustained use of these metaphors for Love—and these images that describe Beatrice’s effects on Dante—creates a deeply mysterious poetic work that exists outside of narrative time. Upon reaching the end of the Vita Nuova, the impulse is to re-read the work with both its subjectivity and its universal reach in mind. The reader is tempted to extrapolate, from Beatrice’s ascension, a high, ubiquitous quality of love that exists in each person according to his or her own past, a “miracle too rich and strange to hold.” Elements of mutual physical and erotic love are left unexamined in Vita Nuova, but their absence does not detract from the power of the poetry. Because Dante establishes, throughout his extended poetic conceits, the separation of Love from physicality and establishes it in the language of visions and contemplative praise, the aspect of love that is most fully-realized is the one that is achieved only from the position of memory and reflection, one that is both intellectual and spiritual. Dante unites these positions with love itself, and with this elaborate work of art he creates a new kind of reflective love poetry that is metaphysical and psychological.


Works Cited


Musa, Mark. Vita Nuova / Dante Alighieri. Oxford University Press, 1992.

Martinez, Ronald. “Mourning Beatrice: The Rhetoric of Threnody in the ‘Vita Nuova.’” MLN, vol. 113, no. 1, 1998, pp. 1–29.


Kleiner, John. “Finding the Center: Revelation and Reticence in the Vita Nuova.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 32, no. 1, 1990, pp. 85–100.


Stone, Gregory B. “Dante’s Averroistic Hermeneutics (On ‘Meaning’ in the ‘Vita Nuova’).” Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society, no. 112, 1994, pp. 133–159.


Examination of Catullus 63


In Catullus’s Poem 63, an abundance of alliteration within each line serves to unify blocks of thought and expression, giving thrust and near-rage to every action Attis takes. Attis, in this poem, takes feverish steps in a fit of madness that, while rash, belies a deep-seated urge and unhappiness that are captured in six frenetic opening lines, an action that will be sung, regretted, and lamented in the length of the poem that follows.

In the first line, Attis “sailed the sea-deeps in a swift vessel,” and “arrived, ardently he entered / The Phrygian forest, set feverish foot” in the “dark, dense-leaved demesne of the Goddess.” This alliteration and dense, evocative diction emphasizes Attis’s determination and resolve; it also summons an idea of the closed-in desperation and unhappiness that Attis feels in his own body. In line 7, “Woman now, and aware of her wasted manhood,” wide-open vowel sounds in the words woman, now, aware, and manhood depict the wound Attis has created, an open, empty space that remains after a fit of action.

In the next line, “Still bleeding, the blood bedaubing the ground still,” the alliteration continues, but the blood itself has gained the agency here. The act of the blood “bedaubing the ground still” creates bodily time that stretches alongside the singular action that Attis has taken. The red blood falls in the forest that is “dark, dense-leaved;” Attis has changed himself and colored the earth with his change. “With feminine fingers she fetched the light drum / That makes the music, Great Mother, at your mysteries.” The Great Mother is Cybele, whose mysteries are orgiastic rites. Now that Attis has “feminine fingers,” how will she participate in these rites and mysteries?

Attis has been “moved by madness, bemused in his mind, [l]opped off the load of his loins with a sharp flint.” The “load of his loins” has a metaphorical sense, as Attis, a consort of Cybele, may have detested not only his physical form but also his lot in life. Attis, “holding the hollowed ox-hide and shaking it, // Sang to the servants of Cybele in a rapture.” The image of the hollowed ox-hide and the subsequent call to Cybele’s “wild drove of devotees” is reminiscent of the thyrsus sticks shaken by the Bacchae. The rites and mysteries alluded to in this poem, and the “mount Dindymus” mentioned, are strongly suggestive of Dionysian worshippers and of his childhood on Mount Tmolus. If Catullus intended to link this Phrygian narrative of self-castration to tales of Bacchae who tore men apart, Attis’s act seems to be one taken under the influence of a goddess. And Attis’s long apostrophe to his birthplace and to the sea at the end of the poem, a moment of regret and ruin, parallels Agave’s regret and lament at killing her son in the Bacchae, a regret that she feels only after she has come to her senses. “A slave now of Cybele, must I serve her sisterhood? / Be a maenad, a moiety of myself, a man-corpse?” The word “moiety” indicates that, far from curing his lack and unhappiness, Attis has made himself less himself. As the Latin reads, “ego mei pars, ego vir sterilis ero?” A man-corpse, a “sterile man,” Attis is chased by Cybele’s lions and driven to the woods. Another parallel exists with Dionysus here, who is drawn in chariots by lions and can transform into them. Catullus has created a myth within this poem in which a man can be driven to madness as easily as a woman, and can even be urged to become a woman to escape the feverish frenzy that gods instill in human beings.

Study of Sor Juana’s Sonnet 186

In Sor Juana’s Sonnet 186, a combination of assonance, alliterative effect, and slant rhyme work together to create an atmosphere of defiance and finality. The alliteration of the words “life” and “Laura” in lines 1 and 2, and the anaphoric parallel structure of tenses in the phrases “ever was yours” and “ever will be,” in the same two lines, equates life itself with Laura, the beloved, and underlines the notion that a powerful sense of continuity springs from written communion with—and love for—another woman.

Sor Juana concedes from the beginning of the sonnet that her life is not her own because it belongs to Laura, and then proceeds to reclaim it by denying Fate and death the right to take it. By beginning the second and third stanzas in the assertive past first person (“I was astounded” (i.5) and “I saw” (i.9)), she moves the discourse of the poem away from apostrophe to Laura in the first stanza toward the lyric. Anastrophe in line 7, “she no longer can wield any in mine,” upends Fate’s narrative structure of action, firmly placing the agency in Sor Juana’s hands.

In the first stanza, Sor Juana’s descriptive epithet “the savage Fate” personifies and de-humanizes the concept by assigning Fate both a name and an inhuman quality, while linking it to a definite article. This move sets the stage for Sor Juana’s later upheaval of Fate’s attempt to “claim” her “mortal foot in triumph” (i.4). Is “foot” a metaphor for the meter of Sor Juana’s verses? If so, the use of “foot” may well constitute a synecdoche to represent the entirety of her own “mortal” life with her poetry itself, the power structure that Sor Juana uses to express her intelligence and longing within the constraints of her life experience.

A caesura in the second stanza that wraps two slant rhymed lines reinforces Sor Juana’s determination and bold confidence.

for if greater power lies ‘neath her domain,

she no longer can wield any in mine:

you allowed me to free myself from her. (iii.6-8).

The contrast between Fate’s “domain” and what Sor Juana claims as “mine” again serves to prioritize the personal over the natural and the institutional forces that besiege her.

The metaphor in the third stanza constitutes a volta that turns the poem away from the abstract apprehension of death toward more visceral fright and appreciation: “I saw the mortal, fearsome scissors open / to cut through the thread” (ii.9-10). The words “fearsome scissors” and “through the thread” elegantly juxtapose sibilance with fricatives. The effect underscores the beauty and terror of Fate and showcases Sor Juana’s ability to frame the terrible in bewitching terms.

The contrast between Fate’s “rash daring” in line 5 and “and she, abashed, departed” in line 13 creates well-separated consonance and alliteration that serve to reinforce the idea that, through the power of her speech and persuasion, Sor Juana can compel Fate herself to “depart” and “speed away.” In the final line, assonance abounds in the striking statement “leaving me to die for you, no one but you” (i.14). The heavy drag of the vowel harmony on stressed syllables in the phrase “no one but you” is reminiscent of a death knell. Arriving as it does at the end of a poem in which the speaker flagrantly spurns death’s advance with “fearsome scissors,” this conclusion returns the poem to an apostrophe that is final, emphatic, and concessive. The sonnet begins and ends with an address to the rightful arbiter of Sor Juana’s fate: Laura.




Sor Juana’s Sonnet 186 (tr. Edith Grossman)


In this life of mine that ever was yours,

O divine Laura, and ever will be,

the savage Fate, determined to pursue me,

wanted to claim my mortal foot in triumph.


I was astounded by her rash daring,

for if great power lies ‘neath her domain,

she no longer can wield any in mine:

you allowed me to free myself from her.


I saw the mortal, fearsome scissors open

to cut through the thread she never had spun;

oh savage, terrible Fate! I said then,


know that no one but Laura commands here;

and she, abashed, departed and sped away,

leaving me to die for you, no one but you.

Conversation with Sappho

Why have so many poets relied on Sappho as the example par excellence for erotic imagery and expression? This creative project—a booklet that collects Sappho’s fragments, poems and prose by poets that are inspired by Sappho’s themes or forms, critical responses, and original poetry and erasures—is a reply to the many poets who have used Sappho’s poetry as a model for ideal erotics and lyricism. The booklet explores the artistic desires, ambitions, and urges that have led poets to turn to Sappho (and to turn away from her).

Throughout the centuries following Sappho’s life, reception to her work has been influenced by mythological tellings of her biography and by interpretations of her sexuality. Horace refers to Sappho as “mascula,” “severing [her] ties to a female tradition” (deJean 797), and Ovid reiterates the phrase. In his Heroides, Sappho’s “leap into water is the crucial moment … for it completes the exorcism of her inadmissible sexuality. His fictional Sappho functions as a scapegoat since her suicidal leap guarantees the continuing orderly functioning of life inside the literary city. This gesture purifies her and serves as a necessary prelude to her acceptance as a canonical author” (797). Most writes that “Sappho seems to have been a favourite stage figure throughout most of the history of Athenian comedy, from Old Comedy through Menander – but one who exemplified insatiable heterosexual promiscuity, as instanced in her sexual relations with poets like Archilochus, Hipponax, and Anacreon” (Most 17). Further, “the reception of Sappho can be interpreted as a series of attempts to come to terms with the complexity” (17) of Sappho’s character and her personal and professional life. Coupled to the brilliance and originality of her poetry, these stagings of Sappho as a masculinized love poet with an acceptable hetero-tragic female narrative cemented her place in literature as “The Poetess,” similar to the ways in which Homer’s distant-past obscurity and extraordinary originality have cemented him as “The Poet.”

Readers and writers cannot escape the temptation to read books-as-such as units of thought and meaning. Prodi writes that, among Sappho’s fragments,

[l]ove poems are not even numerically preponderant. Thus the choice of fr.1 as the opening poem casts Sappho in a very specific light, one that is not intrinsically dictated by the material itself. The editor’s choice to privilege eros as the way into Sappho’s poetry is but one instance of a long and rich strand of her reception—and a powerful tool to orient her reception in that very direction. By encountering the prayer to Aphrodite as we first unroll the first book of Sappho, we are encouraged to read her first of all as a woman in love who sings about love. This introduction also resonates with the long-lived stereotype that casts women and their speech as particularly prone to emotion (Prodi 579).

While emotion is clearly the domain of any poet, regardless of gender, it is true that this paratextual stage upon which Sappho’s fragments play out establishes her as a love poet and as an erotic poet, and that to some extent it erases the abundance of fragments that deal with war, family, nature, landscape, and other topics. But critical and artistic manipulation is the primary mover behind the formation of Sappho’s reputational place as a fictional-inspirational set-piece for love lyrics. According to Most, “[i]n 1682, Madame Dacier’s brief biographical introduction to her edition of the poet set the pattern: it was the variety of Sappho’s heterosexual relationships that was to determine decisively the sequence of events of her life…[Madame Dacier] introduced the image of an older, disappointed Sappho which was to become dominant for well over a century” (Most 21). In “Sex and Philology: Sappho and the Rise of German Nationalism,” deJean writes that “[a]uthors from Verri [1780] to the fanatical Napoleon loyalist J.-B. Chaussard, whose Fêtes et courtisanes de la Grèce appeared in 1801, linger over the powerful beauty of Phaon’s young flesh in a protofascist hymn to the male body as well-oiled machine for the domination of anyone” (deJean 149). DeJean discusses the successful efforts German philologists made to “defend” Sappho and argue for her chastity. These efforts went beyond normalization and literary imagination. Writers like Welcker set out to sanitize Sappho in order to claim her, along with the rest of antiquity, in furtherance of the German Romantic, Pastoralist, and Nationalist literary movements.

[T]he logic behind Welcker’s chastity argument is so convoluted as almost to defy reconstruction. Welcker admits that Sappho’s poetry shows love for women, but he disclaims the existence of any “basely sensual,” “punishable,” or “reprehensible” element in that love. This claim, on which his entire theory rests, is based on no evidence more concrete than a personal conviction that “no educated Greek would have thought these were beautiful love poems if some- thing monstrous and disgusting had been going on in them.” (149)


DuBois offers an explanation for the fascination and the possible justifications for these repeated disruptions of Sappho’s private purposes and poetics. “Lyric poetry is a particularly valuable source for attitudes concerning sexuality, not least because of its rhetorical situation, what Northrop Frye calls ‘the radical of presentation’” (duBois 132). Sappho, as the earliest and most successful lyric poet, offered post-Renaissance poets driven by various combinations of their ambitions, their passion for antiquity, and their competition with other writers a wealth of material and myth to plunder. The firestorm of her position in history, her establishment and preservation as a master by other poets in antiquity, her lyric subject matter, and her gender made Sappho the examplar of love poetry and ideal erotics. “Sappho’s lyrics…often have this quality of discourse overheard, of a privacy temporarily made visible to the listener” (duBois 132). And “Sappho’s poetry works through…shifting oppositions, staging an encounter between an ‘I’ and a singular ‘you,’ representing a scene of intimacy recovered through memory” (136).

For metaphysical poets like John Donne, Romantic poets like Percy Bysshe Shelley, and symbolists like Charles Baudelaire, these private discourses and encounters crystallized in time must have been nothing short of treasure; for Modernists like Ezra Pound and H.D., the very fragmentariness of Sappho’s work made it appealing. It is little wonder that Sappho’s poetry has ridden the wave of its interpretation into the minds and works of so many writers. It is impossible to know what reception of her work would look like without the myth of Phaon or the assignment of her chastity and heterosexuality, but reading her fragments alongside the poems her well-worked example inspired makes it clear that few or no poets have been able to imitate the one aspect of her work that no critic or philologist can manipulate: her voice. In her own voice, Sappho seems not to speak for anyone, not even herself. Instead, she transmits emotions and exchanges with perspectives from the self and the other that speak in an eternal present, outside of time or history. Listeners to her voice are captivated not only by what she says, or by how and whom she loves, but by the overwhelming strength of her voice, by her pauses and her separations, and by her mysterious ability to set down in public the privacy of loss and longing.


Works Cited

DuBois, Paige. Sappho is Burning. University of Chicago Press, 2005.


Most, Glenn W. “Reflecting Sappho.” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Vol. 40 ( 1995), pp. 15-38


DeJean, Joan. “Sex and Philology: Sappho and the Rise of German Nationalism.” Representations, No. 27 (Summer, 1989), pp. 148-171


DeJean, Joan. “Fictions of Sappho.” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Summer, 1987), pp. 787-805


Prodi, E. E. “Text as Paratext: Pindar, Sappho, and Alexandrian Editions.” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, vol. 57, no. 3, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, 2018, pp. 547–82.


Daedalus Far From Home

This passage from Ovid’s Metamorphoses powerfully captures the desire with which Daedalus longs to return to his homeland. The passage begins in medias res, offering no context for Daedalus’s “longum…exsilium,” and the use of anastrophe in the phrase “Creten longumque perosus /exsilium” reinforces the length of both the exile and his hatred of his exile and of Crete. Daedalus says that while Minos “undas obstruat” and “Terras licet,” he “omnia possideat, non possidet aera Minos.” This chiasmus in line 187 underlines Minos’s tyranny, while opening the free “aera” to exploration and flight. The notion that the air is unexplored and unrestricted by the will of kings introduces a touch of dramatic irony, given that the upper air is the realm of the gods.

In the next lines (188-189), Ovid makes use of prolepsis and hyperbaton to emphasize the grandeur and innovation inherent in Daedalus’s creation. “Dixit et ignotas animum dimittit in artes / naturamque novat.” The hyperbaton is exaggerated, where “ignotas” is four words away from “artes,” exaggerating the “unknownness” of this art, and the suspense in the sentence builds up in both lines toward the resolution of the verbs. Simultaneously, in these lines, the consonance of “dixit” and “dimittit” and “naturamque novat” enforces the power of Daedalus’s creation and the profound way in which it transforms the natural world, over which he assumes control.

The ablative absolute construction in line 190, “longam [pennam] breviore [penna] sequenti,” draws to mind the meticulous care and skillful way in which Daedalus builds his wings, summoning the image of a master who already possesses all the world’s skills and has only to apply them to his strange new craft, and anticipates his success. The metaphor of the result clause in 191, “ut clivo crevisse putes,” borders on synecdoche, as it juxtaposes the fashioned wing with the incline of a cliff where a bird might soar, and it is immediately followed by the simile “sic rustica quondam / fistula disparibus paulatim surgit avenis.” The image of a pipe with reeds of different lengths not only mirrors the wing, but forms a musical image that conjures up the sound of whistling winds that, again, bring to mind the environment where a lone bird drafts near a cliff. In lines 189 and 191, Daedalus “ponit … pennas” and the reader thinks of a “clivo crevisse;” the alliteration in both phrases brings home the attendant care Daedalus builds his wings. Likewise, the rhyming “rustica … fistula” image indicates that, just as a reed pipe is made with care, these wings are fashioned just as they should be, and that they are sound and capable.

The full and partial end-rhymes of lines 183-192—“perosus,” “undas,” “Minos,” “artes,” “pennas,” and “avenis”—move from hatred to waves and Minos to arts, feathers, and reeds. There is a fluid progression of the lines from Daedalus’s exile to his longing for a way to return home and his determination to create his own freedom. In the next section, lines 193-202, it is playful Icarus who becomes the focal point. These lines have their own sequence of end rhymes, from “imas” and “una” and “pericla” to “alas” and “aura.” Again, there is a progression from the deepest point, the “imas,” to danger, to the wing, “alas,” and the “aura,” air.

The introduction of Icarus so late in the verse, who has been, it seems, standing, “stabat,” with his father the whole time, makes him seem youthful and active. Icarus does everything in the imperfect tense: captabat, mollibat, impediebat. Ovid does not give his age, but the fascination he affords to Icarus and the “pericla” mentioned earlier sets the stage for more meddling to come. Icarus will not, apparently, treat the wings with Daedalus’s care. Instead, he will play with them, soften their wax, and try to catch at the air, gaining height for a purpose his father did not intend.




Daedalus interea Creten longumque perosus

exsilium tactusque loci natalis amore

clausus erat perago. “Terras licet,” inquit, “et undas

obstruat: at caelum certe patet; ibimus illac:

omnia possideat, non possidet aera Minos.”

Dixit et ignotas animum dimittit in artes

natarumque novat. Nam ponit in ordine pennas

a minima coeptas, longam breviore sequenti,

ut clivo crevisse putes: sic rustica quondam

fistula disparibus paulatim surgit avenis.


Tum lino medias et ceris alligat imas

atque ita compositas parvo curvamine flectit,

ut versa imitetur aves. Puer Icarus una

stabat et, ignarus sua se tractare pericla,

ore renidenti modo, quas vaga moverat aura,

captabat plumas, flavam modo police ceram

mollibat lusuque suo mirabile patris

impediebat opus. Postquam manus ultima coepto

imposita est, geminas opifex libravit in alas

ipse suum corpus motaque pependit in aura.

Daedalus, in the meantime, hating his long

Exile and having been touched by love for his birthplace

Was closed in by the sea. “Though Minos may obstruct

The waves and the land,” Daedalus said, “still the sky certainly lies open; we will fly that way: he may hold everything, but he does not hold the air.”

He spoke, and set his mind to unknown arts

And changed the order of nature. Now he put feathers in order

starting from the smallest, following long with shorter,

so that you may think it grows at an incline: in this way sometimes a rustic’s

pipe builds up gradually with reeds of different length.


Next he binds the lowest feathers with wax and the middle with string

And in this way what he has made bends to imitate the curves of a real bird. His son Icarus was standing

And, not knowing that he was dealing with things that would put him in danger,

Caught, smiling, at the feathers that wandered in the wind,

And playing he softened the yellow wax with his thumb, and impeded

his father’s miraculous work. After the finishing touch had been put into the work, Daedalus himself balanced all his weight on the twin wings, his body suspended in the air.