Wednesday, January 14, 2015

from David Shulman's Spring, Heat, Rains

I dream, oddly, of the Greek poem inscribed on the wall of the burial cave at Beit Guvrin, south of Jerusalem:

Nothing else remains that I can do for you,
or that will pleasure you.
I am sleeping with someone else, but it is you
I love, dearest to me of all.
In the name of Aphrodite, I am happy about one thing,
that your cloak has been left to me as a pledge.
But I flee, I permit you
expanses of freedom.
Do anything you desire, do not strike the wall,
it only makes noise.
We will motion to each other, this will be
the sign between us.

A woman, apparently, speaks to her dead lover. I carry this poem with me in my wallet. Often, when I read it out loud, people refuse to believe it was written two thousand years ago. Amiel sent me the original last year; the translation is faithful, even the 'expanses of freedom.'

David Shulman, Spring, Heat, Rains. A South Indian Diary (The U of Chicago P, 2009), p. 7.

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