But that remarkably sad story is only one strand running through this long piece of paper. Carson reproduces a slightly blurry copy of Catullus's elegy, written in the first century B.C. Carson gives us dictionary definitions of every word of this sad ancient poem, admitting that she has never been satisfied with her own translation of it. Some might remember the last words of that poem ("frater, ave atque vale") that have drifted into our language as "brother, hail and farewell!" Carson has given us a new and much more emotional version of that line--"and into forever, brother, farewell and farewell." But she doesn't seem satisfied with this translation, either--because at the very end of the book she reproduces it again, but so blurry or faded that the only word visible is "brother."
Anne Carson reads from Nox at Nicola's on Thursday, May 13.
[Originally published in May, 2010.]