Monday, June 30, 2008

"of all stars the most beautiful"

From Sappho fragment 24a, translated by Anne Carson in If Not, Winter (2002)
] you will remember
] for we in our youth
    did these things

yes many and beautiful things
Reading those lines, I couldn't help but think of Roberto Bolano and the herculean work of preservation and regeneration he accomplished in The Savage Detectives, reviving and remaking a long-lost culture of poetry and bohemianism and lust and vagabondage. The world he shows us is suffused with the ardors and energies of youth, yet--because within the novel we are hearing about the events later--tinged with the inevitability of loss.

Contra Sappho, I in my youth did not really do these things--I was always too staid and uncertain to even truly want to live a life of extravagance or emotional abandon--but I thrill to Bolano's reminder that yes, others did, with all their hearts, these many and beautiful things.

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