Sunday, May 08, 2022


Ghosts Who Deserve Their Sip of Blood

M.L. West, The Making of the Odyssey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. vii-viii:
I make more reference to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship, and less to more recent work, than is fashionable. Many contemporary writers on Homer seem to cite nearly everything they have read, but to have read little that is more than thirty or forty years old. There is much intelligent and valuable criticism to be found in the older literature, and I have tried to seek it out and to give credit for significant insights where it is due. These are ghosts who deserve their sip of blood (or ink) so that their voice can be heard again. Or as Friedrich Hebbel put it in his Requiem,
Seele, vergiß sie nicht,
   Seele, vergiß nicht die Toten!

Sieh, sie umschweben dich,
Schauernd, verlassen,
Und in den heiligen Gluten,
Die den Armen die Liebe schürt,
Atmen sie auf und erwarmen,
Und genießen zum letzten Mal
Ihr verglimmendes Leben.
Translation of Hebbel, by Richard Stokes:
Soul, forget them not!
forget not the dead!

See, they hover around you,
Shuddering, forsaken,
And in the holy ardour
Which love rouses in the poor,
They breathe once more and take on warmth
And enjoy for one last time
Their fading life.
Related post: Blood for the Ghosts.

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