Saturday, January 1, 2011

Look Forward, Look Back

(A Short Pronouncement that Turns to Dialogue. And Citation.)

Look forward, look back: isn't that what we we do on this day?  But why just this day, or yesterday, or during the intervening week between Christmas and New Year's, when news is on short rations and so simply recycles? Always so many questions we might ask, but don't:

Who knocks as the clock clangs, as the snow piles up, flake by flake?
Will I be the one who must answer?

Our beauty so fleeting it runs out like ice on a hot day.

How far do I have to run to avoid coming back?

--As if you could, you know.

"Death is all things we see awake; all we see asleep is sleep."

--I know that, that's Heraclitus.  Just so you don't have the last word, here is another of his aphorisms:
"If all things turned to smoke, the nostrils would sort them out."

Or this: "The fairest order in the world is a heap of random sweepings."

--I knew you'd do that, get the last word.

But it wasn't me; it was Heraclitus. 

And now it's you.

No, it's you.  

Heraclitis, Fragments LXXXIX, CXII and CXXV from Charles H. Kahn.  The Art and Thought of Heraclitus: An Edition of the Fragments with Translation and Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1979. 

Photo: Old Montreal through the side mirror


  1. Karin how are you? - it's amos - what a lovely surprise to google kahn's translation of my favorite heraclitus aphorism ("death is all things we see awake; all we see asleep is sleep") and be unexpectedly brought to your page. and in such a blanchot-like infinite conversation. how are you? I hope very well.

    1. Amos! Wonderful to find you here. And to find this odd almost poem that I didn't even remember writing...again. Hurrah. Thank you. On the return run from a sail to Alaska this summer, oh my. Will try to email you!