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From “Three Poems of Translation” by George Kalogeris:

“Plotinus in English”

Cadence that leads to clearness: that's how Stephen
McKenna described it, tractate by obscure tractate,
Reaped like wheat in the tiny dank village of Harrow;
Or rapture's sparks aglow in a low thatched cottage
Black with the coal-soot of Cornish Reskadinnick.

For thirty lean years, Plotinus, he kept to his Spartan
Diet of milk, brown bread and eggs, but gorged
On your abstractions, convinced the sublime had substance;
An isolate like you, translating you—
But not into bloodless, Neoplatonic ambrosia.

Please tell us, again, Plotinus, what ecstasy means,
And how it feels to be “lifted out of the body . . .
External to all things and self-encentered . . .
A marvelous beauty then, and more than ever
Assured of community with the loftiest order . . . ”

And then the sudden, humiliating, let down.
And why the homeless soul must always go
Alone, when the body dies, back to the Alone.
And what little, in essence—even in Stephen McKenna's
English—carries over as sustenance.


>> from the current issue, Vol. 7 #3, Autumn 2016

 
 
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