Thursday, December 19, 2002
: . The Tenth Muse:
- Breaks are always, and fatally, reinscribed in an old cloth that must continually, interminably be undone.
-- Jacques Derrida, Positions (24)
From If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho translated by Anne Carson:
- When translating texts read from papyri, I have used a single bracket to give an impression of missing matter, so that ] or [ indicates destroyed papyrus or the presence of letters not quite legible somewhere in the line. It is not the case that every gap or illegibility is specifically indicated: this would render the page a blizzard of marks and inhibit reading. Brackets are an aesthetic gesture toward a papyrological event rather than an accurate record of it. I have not used the brackets in translating passages, phrases, or words whose existence depends on citation by ancient authors, since these are intentionally incomplete. I emphasize the distinction between brackets and no brackets because it will affect your reading experience, if you allow it. Brackets are exciting. Even though you approach Sappho in translation, that is no reason you should miss the drama of trying to read papyrus torn in half or riddled with holes or smaller than a postage stamp – brackets imply a free space of imaginal adventure.
so we may see [
of gold arms [
]in a thin voice
you burn me
Dead you will lie and never memory of you
will there be nor desire into the aftertime – for you do not
share in the roses
of Pieria, but invisible too in Hades’ house
you will go your way among dim shapes. Having been breathed out.
someone will remember us
even in another time
for it is not right in a house of the Muses
that there be lament
this would not become us
far more sweetsounding than a lyre
golder than gold
these things now for my companions
I shall sing beautifully