Saturday, November 25, 2006

Precious


This is one of the best definitions of poetry I have come across:

"The poet always wants to put feelings or ideas in concrete forms, in forms that may have become in themselves precious (the very term is revealing), like those gems that owe their density and sparkle to the almost unbearable pressures and temperatures they've been through."


Marguerite Yourcenar in Preface to 'Fires'.

She was born in Brussels and I can't help feeling that she was maybe inspired to write this after a visit to Antwerp to the world famous diamond district.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lysistrata

I found this modern translation of Lysistrata by Aristophanes in the Oxfam bookshop a few months ago. I can't help feeling that this passage is not only funny but very true - especially for today!

Let me set the scene. Lysistrata has started a women's revolt. She has disagreed with the war that her men folk are involved with but up to now she hasn't said anything. She has just decided to come and take over the government and is having the following argument with a magistrate. Can't help feeling that this could happen today and they would be saying the same thing.


LYSISTRATA:
What a question! From now on we intend
to control the Treasury.

MAGISTRATE:
Control the Treasury!

LYSISTRATA:
Why not? Does that seem strange? After all,
we control our household budgets.

MAGISTRATE:
But that's different!

LYSISTRATA:
'Different'? What do you mean?

MAGISTRATE:
I mean simply this:
it's the Treasury that pays for National Defense.

LYSISTRATA:
Unnecessary. We propose to abolish war!

MAGISTRATE:
Good God. - And National Security?

LYSISTRATA:
Leave that to us.

MAGISTRATE:
You?

LYSISTRATA:
Us.

MAGISTRATE:
We're done for, then!