A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
"Sestina" by Dante Alighieri
I have come, alas, to the great circle of shadow,
to the short day and to the whitening hills,
when the colour is all lost from the grass,
though my desire will not lose its green,
so rooted is it in this hardest stone,
that speaks and feels as though it were a woman.
And likewise this heaven-born woman
stays frozen, like the snow in shadow,
and is unmoved, or moved like a stone,
by the sweet season that warms all the hills,
and makes them alter from pure white to green,
so as to clothe them with the flowers and grass.
When her head wears a crown of grass
she draws the mind from any other woman,
because she blends her gold hair with the green
so well that Amor lingers in their shadow,
he who fastens me in these low hills,
more certainly than lime fastens stone.
Her beauty has more virtue than rare stone.
The wound she gives cannot be healed with grass,
since I have travelled, through the plains and hills,
to find my release from such a woman,
yet from her light had never a shadow
thrown on me, by hill, wall, or leaves’ green.
I have seen her walk all dressed in green,
so formed she would have sparked love in a stone,
that love I bear for her very shadow,
so that I wished her, in those fields of grass,
as much in love as ever yet was woman,
closed around by all the highest hills.
The rivers will flow upwards to the hills
before this wood, that is so soft and green,
takes fire, as might ever lovely woman,
for me, who would choose to sleep on stone,
all my life, and go eating grass,
only to gaze at where her clothes cast shadow.
Whenever the hills cast blackest shadow,
with her sweet green, the lovely woman
hides it, as a man hides stone in grass.
Day 3: Mimnermos
"Short-lived is treasured youth"
Short-lived is treasured youth,
like a dream. And soon
the painful and ugly old age
looms above our heads,
hated and despised alike,
takes over men deforming
and making them unrecognizable,
damaging the sight, and the mind.
Day 2: Hesiod, 5th century b.c.e.
"Rough is the road to happiness"
A lot of sweat put the immortal gods
to the forefront of the virtue
Long and hard and painful
the road to happiness in the beginning.
But when you get there
it becomes so easy
and pleasant that you forget
all the hardships that preceded.
I might as well say that this project has been established by my roommate and me to keep our wits about us during our summer break from school. We are memorizing a poem a day, moving week by week through the major poetic movements of history.
Week 1- Ancient Greek
Week 2-Provencal Literature
Week 8-American Transcendentalist
Day 1: Archilocus (Archilochos) 650s BCE
Oh soul, turn by unbearable concerns.
Stand up, defend yourself from your enemies.
Outsmart them moving cautiously through their ambushes.
But do not triumph when you win, nor lay down crying when defeated.
Nor get overjoyed in your joys or overwhelmed in your sorrows.
Just learn what rhythm governs human affairs.
This is, I believe, a tribute to the argument of an open mind. Ancient cultures believed the heart, mind, and soul to be one thing, whereas the organs of the brain and the heart were not necessarily connected to them. Be humble, be aware. Keep yourself open to the world and its possibilities while protecting yourself, and fulfillment you will receive.