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There is a Synchroblog on summer reading today.

Perhaps you could submit this post. The concept of "Summer Reading" was meaningless to me until a read it, but it's too late to rewrite my own contribution now. Just give your name, URL of the post and post title in a comment on the blog at the link above.

Ευχαριστώ, πάρα πολύ! Ευλογείτε, Father Jonathan.

Well, Ευχαριστώ. Actually, you're the one traveling, so bon voyage.

I do not qualify my recommendation of your good work: it stands openhanded and without reserve. Poetry is hard, made more difficult by attempts that think the work is easy.

You are not in that easy camp. Without sounding too unctuous, I would say you've achieved a tone that outstrips anything original one might read in these pages. Neither tendentious nor tedious, belabored nor beleaguered, your sticherij manage to articulate depth of spirit in simple speech and direct (to refer, somewhat, to Barzun).

With seeming ease, Mr. Cairns, you speak of hard things.

And that is a good thing.

In any case, καλό ταξίδι, my brothers. Good journey. Hope you find the sort of work you imagine, or, better yet, that you'll find the occasion to write it. I and many others, will be pleased to read it, though some one or two may see your work as an opportunity to wish for something else.

Yes, poetry read aloud is the only proper preparation for writing. Thank you for that.

English is a hard language to translate into (pardon the dangling preposition). The main reason is that the lack of syntactical endings removes a whole category of possible rhymes.

Take, for example, the near impossibility of translating, intact, Dante's terza rima scheme into English. Dorothy Sayers attempted this and died in the attempt (her friend Barbara Reynolds completed the task). The success of this attempt was mixed, at best.

Sayers' translation was my first, so I grew accustomed to some of this superior intellect's awkward phrases, that had been contrived roughly to fit the scheme. I much prefer the translation by Anthony Esolen.

English is also difficult because of its mongrel nature. It seems as though everyone has contributed their stuff to the English language, and I like this: but this does not help the translator.

Nothing helps the translator much: in fact, he or she should be ready for the acrimony of sophomore intellectuals -- and there is no counting this sorry crew. The translator even has scary warning poems thrown at him.

Here's an example from Osip Mandelstam (translated by the worthy Christian Wiman):

Forget it. Don't tempt yourself with tongues
Whose blood is not your own.
Better to bite a light bulb, eat an urn.

Ah yes. "Better to bite a light bulb" -- an effective metaphor, I think.

The problem is that in Orthodoxy, one just cannot "forget it." Translation must be done.

I just wish that liturgical translators would read a lot more Homer and Pindar in the original speech.

My gateway to Christianity, and ultimately Orthodoxy, was William Blake (and Milton too). One thing that impressed me was that most of the great Orthodox theologians were great poets too. Unfortunately many hymns suffer more than necessary in English translation because not all of our translators understand how poetry should sound.

Poetry is and should be difficult. Some people say that the making of poems should be even more difficult than is usually thought, mainly because there is so much free verse but so little blank verse (and other verse with meter).

One of the reasons why I like Wilbur so much is because he is one of the few contemporary greats who writes metrically.

I admire Mr. Cairns' offerings to a point. I give him palms for courage, at the very least. One must acknowledge that he gave up a post at Seattle Pacific for Erato's sake. My niece goes there now, and I regret that she didn't get to study under him.

But he's so very subjective, making poems out of intrapsychic phenomena, mining stuff of the material world for metaphorical material. I'm not sure if this is what is intended for symbolism. That is why I could not endorse him as an Orthodox American poet, in the manner I described above.

David, I suggest that you keep reading good poetry out loud for the sound and sense, even Scott's, even the Bard's, but especially Eliot's and Auden's.

I have tried to write poetry. More importantly I have tried to find some tutoring in the art. Few people read and still fewer write, and of them none seeks an apprentice. I have never found Scott Cairns poetry of interest, but his reputation is existent so I've inquired on a couple of occasions. He, apparently, does not answer emails (he wouldn't be the only Orthodox semi-known person who has taken up this particular asceticism). I shall have to continue on in self-tutelage. Perhaps when I am old, I'll write something worth reading, as you properly say, aloud.

Not on this list, obviously, mainly because my copies are still languishing on your bookshelf.

Where is Flannery O'Connor? Orhan Pamuk?

Thank you, Maqda, for this link. I did not know this service existed. Permit me this opportunity to advertise, again, the fact that this is Knox's best work, and that Knox is quite simply the best -- in not a few categories.

Let Dons Delight:

I look forward to adding these titles to my reading list.

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