Classical Monsters

I must be on (in?) a Classical groove today, since I posted Poe’s To Helen [on TRANSCEND page above] and Nerval’s  Delfica [on FRANÇAIS page above].

They share many similar Hellenic traits – or is Hellenistic a better term? Someone explain the difference  please – it’s all Greek to me.  I find so many rich associations in both poems. In To Helen , the image of those Odyssean triremes transports me to the ancient Aegean, where the the name Psyche combines with Delos to form “psychedelic” – a purely subjective association, I know.  By now I am hearing Cream’s Tales of Brave Ulysses in my mind – I need to post that one to my music page.   But I digress..

If you know French, I hope you will enjoy Delfica – here is a translation into English if you don’t. This guy did a magnificent job – hard to translate poetry and maintain for the reader the rhyme & rhythm of the original.        [ translated by A.Z. Foreman ]

Psyche’s agate lamp has illuminated and inspired me ever since I first went on an E.A. Poe kick around the same time I got interested in Symbolist art during the mid 80’s.  But long before that, in 4th grade, I attempted to memorize The Raven. I can still make it up until the line “… sorrow for the lost Lenore”.  I was really into horror movies as a kid. Maybe not the greatest taste for parents to indulge  in their children (?) but that would explain some of what you find at this blog.  I had a subscription to Famous monsters of Filmland magazine in the early 70’s – did any of you read Monster magazine as a kid? I was obsessed with creepy stuff. I used to BEG my parents to let me stay up late on Saturday night for Creature Feature and Tales of the Unknown. (Channel 56 if you grew up in the Boston area)

Back to the poems: Nerval’s Chimères have fascinated me ever since a college French professor turned me on to them. Nerval’s poetry takes neoclassical madness right up to the edge of Christianity (one thinks of  Paul before Festus and Agrippa  in Acts 26: 24 -28 ) but then leaves you hanging  in a philosophical void. The French seem to have been hanging in this void for a long time – ever since their Revolution turned into a blood bath which in turn, paved the way for Napoleon.  Gérard de Nerval was also left hanging apparently…

I wonder whether Nerval was a Christian or not.  Le Christ Aux Oliviers is so entwined with classical Greek paganism it is hard to tell.

I have tendency to blather  – gotta post this and move on.  I thought it would be about Classical Greek allusions but it turned into a monster somewhere.

Hope you found something in the poems.

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