send my regards to book club

I haven’t had any time for reading this past month and am about to send my regards to Book Club.  Sure.  I picked the book.  It’s a good one — Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena — and this was going to be my last meeting for the forseeable future, but there’s no way I can go fifty pages in and lead the discussion.  Well, I could but I wouldn’t feel very good about it.  So it’s sayonara sister.  Either I will need to pick this book up in earnest after the last wave of essays or start listening to an audio version in my car!

odysseyThe silver lining in all this is that littlest love keeps searching me out these last few nights for some bedtime reading, and get this, she has requested my copy of Homer.  Get out!  you say.  I know.  I know!  And she’s even trying to correct some of my Greek pronunciations.  Tonight we read more of the beginning, where Athena disguises herself as a man and goes to Odysseus house — overrun in his absence with lazy and gluttonous suitors — because she wants to stir his son Telemachus into action.  We snuggle in her bed, her head resting on my chest and I making the story come to life with different voices, and always there is this backdrop of kindness and hospitality demonstrated in these Homeric epics that I never tire of, the way strangers are welcomed and honored as guests.  They’re always offered basins for washing, they’re anointed with fragrant oils and given the best seats.  They are provided a meal and wine, and then they tell stories.  Stories layered with honor and humility.  And if this is all I read this month, brief snippets of Homer shared with my sweet daughter, it’s more than enough.

 

Daydreaming so as he sat among the suitors,

he glimpsed Athena now

and straight to the porch he went, mortified

that a guest might still be standing at the doors.

Pausing beside her there, he clasped her right hand

and relieving her at once of her long bronze spear,

met her with winged words: “Greetings, stranger!

Here in our house you’ll find a royal welcome.

Have supper first, then tell us what you need.

He led the way and Pallas Athena followed.

Once in the high-roofed hall, he took her lance

and fixed it firm in a burnished rack against

a sturdy pillar, there where row on row of spears,

embattled Odysseus’ spears, stood stacked and waiting.

Then he escorted her to a high, elaborate chair of honor,

over it draped a cloth, and here he placed his guest

with a stool to rest her feet. But for himself

he drew up a low reclining chair beside her,

richly painted, clear of the press of suitors,

concerned his guest, offended by their uproar,

might shrink from food in the midst of such a mob.

He hoped, what’s more, to ask him about his long-lost father.

A maid brought water soon in a graceful golden pitcher

and over a silver basin tipped it out

so they might rinse their hands,

then pulled a gleaming table to their side.

A staid housekeeper brought on bread to serve them,

appetizers aplenty too, lavish with her bounty.

A carver lifted platters of meat toward them,

meats of every sort, and set beside them golden cups

and time and again a page came round and poured them wine.

 

~ Book 1, Robert Fagles translation

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Comments

  1. The Iliad? Amazing! I love it.

  2. susan board says:

    cherished times, never to be replaced except in future memories…

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