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August 31, 2021


Thanks, I needed that. Art as meditation and prayer--I get that. I'm reading Whitman's Preface to his 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, a real literary manifesto, and it fits in nicely with what Heaney and you are saying.

"... the choices and subterranean current I followed ..."

Thanks so much for the truth in what you write and what you draw and paint.

Thank you, Edward. And yes, I think Whitman would feel much the same way, except that he saw the Civil War with his own eyes, serving in the hospital tents, so his words came from first-person witness.

am, thank you very much for saying that. You are the kind of reader who keeps me going.

Thank you, beautiful art and words to think about!

Searching for the Homeric parallels to the unnamed Geats woman at the end of Beowulf, lamenting her fears of future invasion, mayhem, slavery and abasement, I found this passage in Odyssey 8:521ff:
"So sang the famous bard. And Odysseus’ heart melted, and tears poured from his eyes. He wept pitifully, as a woman weeps who throws herself on her husband’s dying body, fallen in front of his city and people, trying to ward off that evil moment from the city and his own children: watching him gasping for breath in dying, she clings to him and screams aloud, while behind her the enemy beat her back and shoulders with their spears: then she is led into captivity to endure a life of toil and suffering, her cheeks wasted pitifully with grief. He hid the falling tears from all except Alcinous, who, aware because he sat by him, noticed all, and heard him sighing deeply." A.S. Kline, trans.

Reading this, I recalled this blog post of yours from only a few days ago.

Is there a similar passage in the Iliad that Heaney is citing?

Echoed in Heaney's version of Beowulf, line 3150ff:

A Geat woman too sang out in grief
with hair bound up, she unburdened herself
of her worst fears, a wild litany
of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,
slavery and abasement. Heaven swallowed the smoke.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.