Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"...teach him to study the trees"

Olive Trees against a Mountainous Background, Edgar Degas, c. 1890-92


Now that you are leaving, take the boy with you as well,
the boy who saw the light under the plane tree,
one day when trumpets resounded and weapons shone
and the sweating horses
bent to the trough to touch with wet nostrils
the green surface of the water.

The olive trees with the wrinkles of our fathers
the rocks with the wisdom of our fathers
and our brother’s blood alive on the earth
were a vital joy, a rich pattern
for the souls who knew their prayer.

Now that you are leaving, now that the day of payment
dawns, now that no one knows
whom he will kill and how he will die,
take with you the boy who saw the light
under the leaves of that plane tree
and teach him to study the trees.

~ George Seferis, from "Mythistorema"
translated by Edmund Keeley

Listen to David Haskell read a wonderful passage from his book, The Songs of Trees, at Soundcloud

Haskell's website

Seferis interviewed by Keeley for the Paris Review

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