Friday, August 29, 2008

Aeneid: A Black Swift

I guess I am as fascinated by the things that appear in Virgil in passing as I am by the overall story, for the things I want to comment on are all basically asides, such as this one:

Quick as a black swift darts along through the great halls
of a wealthy lord, and scavenging morsels, banquet scraps
for her chirping nestlings, all her twitterings echo now
in the empty colonnades, now in the brimming ponds.

(Book XII)

I have been watching swifts for years now, ever since I moved to Basel and was turned on to bird watching by my friend Dave, but I have never seen swifts flying inside any "great halls" here. That would be quite a sight!

Poetry-wise, I love the way Robert Fagles enjambs the first "now" here, allowing its meaning to open up in various directions, and allowing the second "now" to focus the meaning of the first "now."

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