JJElbert Level 03
  • from NW Florida
  • Member since May 28th 2019
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Posts by JJElbert

    Kind of forgot I started writing this...


    Echoes of Monadnock

    A fresh wind rises in the west

    And springs on hills and valleys dressed

    In green and gold with flowers blest,

    But through your eyes I see it best–


    In early summer, when you've grown

    We'll clamber up the ancient stone

    And make a little spot our own

    And gaze out from a starlit throne


    And as the years and seasons turn

    We'll wander back o'er moss and fern

    By little streams that fall and churn

    And hear our calling voice return


    When winter snows drift on the lea

    And waning moon sinks o'er the bay

    And all the rest has worn away–

    Come back, and hear the mountains say


    Congratulations indeed!

    DELIGHT of Humane kind, and Gods above,

    Parent of Rome; Propitious Queen of Love,

    Whose vital pow’r, Air, Earth, and Sea supplies,

    And breeds what e’r is born beneath the rowling


    For every kind, by thy prolifique might,

    Springs, and beholds the Regions of the light.

    -Lucretius, tr. John Dryden

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    A bit off topic!

    It's also a Roman copy of a Greek original. The Romans were skilled at many things, but in statuary they were hardly fit to carry the Greeks' chisels.

    My monogramed leather keychain fob broke off a few weeks ago, and I'm looking for an alternative. Thinking about having a laser engraving done in either metal or wood, with maybe a quote on the back. This is something I've just put together as an idea. I also a vector version of the same image--I see from Cassius' post above that I'll have to compress that to a .zip to upload it, which I will certainly do if anyone is interested!

    To illustrate Don's point, a little thought experiment; how many male names could I produce from the ancient world off the top of my head? Easily a hundred. How many women? Thinking now, I start to struggle after five or six. And how many of those are duly famous in their own right? Sappho...Hypatia...Cleopatra...

    Sounds good to my ear!

    Tennyson uses a similar line length and rhyme scheme in an excerpt of "A Vision of Sin", first published at the age of ~33. Some of the poems in this edition were written quite early, in his teenage years. This one gives a good example of what I mean by "flow";

    Don, I like where you went with this! I wrote "The Hessian Monk" with a particular tune in mind, and the most difficult part with matching words to music is keeping a good 'flow'. There are a few lines I might amend in this respect, although I almost hesitate to do so–I find that if I wait a day and then return to a poem with fresh eyes, I can easily resolve problems that rankled me as I was writing it. But in the spirit of constructive criticism, here are a few points where the emphasis falls oddly to my ear, and a possible resolution for each;


    Elders REcall past thoughts, pleasing,

    "Age reflects on past thoughts pleasing,"


    When pain's sting, they sense its strike.

    (I see you've already tinkered with this one a bit! Sometimes it's one line or one rhyme that's endlessly thorny. Still thinking about this one)


    But young ones can learn TO live wiser,

    "And Youth shall learn to live the wiser,"

    (This change would create strange grammar for the next line, which I might therefore amend slightly, vis a vis...)

    "Pain and pleasure taught to heed."


    Aim FOR a lifetime filled with pleasure;


    "Fill the brimming cup with pleasure"...

    "Toast to Life suffused with pleasure"...

    "Lay down a life's supply of pleasure"...

    💁‍♂️ just a few thoughts ;) don't feel obligated to follow them!

    The songs that still 'haunt' me from Mass are the Latin hymns.


    With luck, we might inspire a future Epicurean poet more talented than any of us–and when that day comes, that's when we honor Horace, Lucretius and Epicurus!

    I keep thinking back to what I wrote here, and do you know what I've just realized? Of all the members of the original Garden in Athens, only one was praised in the ancient world for their writing style–and that by Cicero! Epicurus' writing was thought too plain and workmanlike (which of course was on purpose, following Euclid). We have no record of the reception of the style of Metrodorus, Hermarchus, or Polyaenus.

    Only Leontion was praised for the grace and elegance of her writing. Although to be fair, I think Cicero would accuse me of rather missing the point. ;)


    Leontium, that mere courtesan, who had the effrontery to write a riposte to Theophrastus – mind you, she wrote elegantly in good Attic, but still, this was the licence which prevailed in the Garden of Epicurus.

    So let me correct that. When that day comes, that is when we honor Horace, Lucretius, Epicurus–and Leontion!

    Listening to this now, and very much enjoying the conversation!

    Here are a few points that come to mind;

    Regarding the image of seminal fluid "spreading through the limbs", I think Lucretius may be making an inference by analogy. He seems to think of this fluid as being associated with adolescent growth and sexual maturity, which of course it is–the "springtime" of life, when the streams run high with the freshets of meltwater, and the sap in the trees runs up into the limbs and oozes out the trunk. This is actually offered as one of the definitions for the word 'sap'; vigor or energy: e.g "the hot, heady days of youth when the sap was rising".

    Regarding the image of "falling toward the wound", he seems to be drawing on the ancient association between Mars and Venus, war and love–the arrows of Cupid. The way that intense love, particularly when unrequited, can feel like a kind of trauma. When Romeo overhears his friends mocking him because of his obsession with Rosaline, he says (to himself and the audience) "They jest at scars who never felt a wound." But he felt the wound, deeply–and yet rather than recoil from this trauma, he found himself drawn ever closer. The connection between the young man's "spurt of fluid" and the dying soldier's gush of blood is then too easy to pass up–and certainly any ancient reader of Homer would have been accustomed to imagining such violent scenes.


    Now the son of Tydeus was in pursuit of the Cyprian goddess [Aphrodite], spear in hand, for he knew her to be feeble and not one of those goddesses that can lord it among men in battle like Athena or Enyo the waster of cities, and when at last after a long chase he caught her up, he flew at her and thrust his spear into the flesh of her delicate hand. The point tore through the ambrosial robe which the Graces had woven for her, and pierced the skin between her wrist and the palm of her hand, so that the immortal blood, or ichor, that flows in the veins of the blessed gods, came pouring from the wound...Diomedes shouted out as he left her, "Daughter of Zeus, leave war and battle alone, can you not be contented with beguiling silly women? If you meddle with fighting you will get what will make you shudder at the very name of war."

    Iliad, translated by Samuel Butler

    The poet W. B. Yeats was a great lover of Lucretius, and his commentary on this passage about love is often found separated from its Lucretian context; "The tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul." Our bodies touch, but we can never be close enough to satisfy the desire that love instills.

    I haven't finished listening, but I am certainly enjoying it