Homer goes all Gérard de Nerval.
I’m really very saddened to learn of the death of Persephone Miel two weeks ago. There’s little more to say than that, really – it’s a genuine loss, both on a professional and a personal level. I knew Persephone through friends, through her work, and through many lengthy conversations at conferences we both attended both in the US and elsewhere – conversations that ranged far and wide, and always left me feeling richer. I found her funny and engaging, knowledgeable and professional, generous and open, and I – like many others – shall miss her. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues worldwide.
It happens I was recently reading a blog post about the Proserpine/Persephone myth, containing these lines by American poet and translator Roger Hunt Carroll, now brought back to mind by reading Doc Searls’ post on preserving Persephone’s work in cyberspace:
There can be no farewell:
I will come this way again in forms
created from other lives,
bound with lilac and softer flowers
whose breath will speak my advent and reprise.
At university, I was blessed with a range of extraordinary and inspirational tutors. One of my favourites was Professor Patrick McGuinness, who encouraged – perhaps since he’s also a poet – nonlinear thinking, making of connections, and explorations. I was particularly struck and moved by his analysis of Mallarme’s Pour Un Tombeau D’Anatole – “210 sheets of pencilled notes towards a poem about the death of [his son] Anatole”. He subsequently translated the work. In 2002, a section of McGuinness’ translation was published in the LRB, along with brief notes. Having recently becoming a parent (with “Anatole” on the baby-naming shortlist…), I wanted to re-read it. It still shatters, moves, uplifts me, because of rather than despite its broken form, and I encourage you to read it.