Anyone ever hear of Homer? I don’t mean Homer Simpson. I mean the storyteller of ancient Greece.
Homer told his stories in a famous way. He starts you out in the middle. Then, as the story unfolds, he fills you in on how things got to the point you found them at the beginning.
At the beginning of the Iliad, the Greeks have set up camp on the eastern banks of the Aegean. What are they doing there? Read on, and you will find out.
At the beginning of the Odyssey, Odysseus languishes in prison on the isle of Ogygia. How did he get there? Read on to find out.
Perhaps you will recall that, about a month ago, I started trying to review some of the changes in the English translation of the people’s parts of the Mass, the words which we will begin to use in two weeks.
When we first started talking about the new Missal, we discussed how we pray the Sacred Liturgy as our common work together. Liturgy means ‘public work.’
Somewhat extensive have my studies been
of Koine distilled into English turns.
Heard many plaints a-rattling in a din:
Too hard to catch the tenor of His words.
The worst: a hamhand jumble of the prayer
our Lord spoke heavenward His final speech–
the noblest sounds ever to rend the air–
Perhaps beyond the translator’s short reach.
In supplication, the Christ expressed all:
His place, His Father, and His chosen ones.
But can these words be music on our soil?
Until today I’d never heard it done.
Now it all is real, the Messiah’s dream.
English was made for Kleist’s John 17.
Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
[George Chapman was a contemporary of Shakespeare’s. Chapman was the first to translate Homer’s works into English. Chapman’s iambic-pentameter Homer had been supplanted by later, more precise translations, which were the standard fare at Keats’ time. Apollo directs the divine Muses, to whom Homer appealed for aid. Darien is a province of Panama.]