Leonard Cohen, Homer, Ursula K. Le Guin



The above is from Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing which I am reading and was reading when he died. 

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The book is full of poems and drawings.

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Eileen and I were walking through our local library recently when my eye fell on a familiar site: a Loeb Classical Library volume. I had forgotten about these. It occurred to me as I perused the library copy that it might be a good way for  me to finally read Homer. I went home and ordered two volumes of the Odyssey. They contain separately books 1 – 12 and 13 – 24 of the poem.

I have been bearing down on my Greek, trying to learn it more thoroughly even as I continue to progress through the course I am studying. I have declensions of  (the definite article) and καλὸς (beautiful, good) along with the conjugation of the verb, βαίνω (I go, am going, do go) taped on the bathroom mirror.  I pretty much have this information memorized but it bears constantly practicing and reviewing.

I’m beginning to wonder if I might simply dive into Homer while I am continuing to learn the language. The Loeb Classical Library has Greek and Latin classics printed with the Greek or Latin on the left page and an aligned translation on the right.

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With a basic understanding of the grammar and some vocab I am hoping I can start on the Odyssey as soon as the first volume arrives in the mail. The second volume came yesterday.

In June of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin posted an essay on Homer called “Papa H.” I just checked and it, too, has been removed from her web site. It’s a bit odd but the web site has this essay being written in 2011. The June 2013 comes from the book I am reading, No Time to Spare.

I ran across the Homer essay this morning and was pleased to see it since it combines two of my current obsessions, Le Guin and Homer. Here are the passages I highlighted for myself this morning. They aren’t particularly about Homer. I just liked them.

[W]ar [is] a wasteful, useless, needless, stupid, protracted, cruel mess full of individual acts of courage, cowardice, nobility, betrayal, limb-hacking-off, and disembowlment.

Le Guin points out that Homer describes war with out taking sides or making it Good vs. Evil. I have actually read this idea in other essays about Homer.

[G]eneralities can be useful in criticism, [but] I mistrust them as fatally reductive. “Ah, the Night Sea Voyage!” we cry, feeling that we have understood something important—but we’ve merely recognized it.

I found it useful to add this distinction to my repertoire: recognizing something is not understanding it. I like that quite a bit.

Well enough. I have to eat breakfast and get ready for church. I don’t think Eileen is joining me this morning. She is still recovering from jet lag and a cold.

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