Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pope's Iliad

Alexander Pope's translation of the Iliad [here] can grab you when you least expect it. After all the action and death are over, I remember being caught by the emotion in the final lines.

The contrast of the beautiful dawn sky and the land around them with the wine, fire and cinerary ashes of Hector's bones are incredible. His dignity and honor seem to permeate the moment, coming through in the expensive, royal purple cloth, delicate and exquisite craftsmanship and gold.

They read:

Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
With rosy lustre streak'd the dewy lawn,
Again the mournful crowds surround the pyre,
And quench with wine the yet remaining fire.
The snowy bones his friends and brothers place
(With tears collected) in a golden vase;
The golden vase in purple palls they roll'd,
Of softest texture, and inwrought with gold.
Last o'er the urn the sacred earth they spread,
And raised the tomb, memorial of the dead.

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