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So, I’ve finally had the privilege to read some of the Cantos. I’ve always had the feeling that if I had a chance to just sit down with them and their sources, and slowly go through each, an incredible world of poetic brilliance would open up. As it turns out, they are sheer, thick, inescapable, pain. And lots of it. They’re a jumble of names and references that you have no hope of understanding (at least not entirely), as my prof points out, unless your name is Ezra Pound. Comparing them to the sources gives you a strong appreciation for Pound’s genius, but it is essentially an intellectual exercise. Read More

Latin text from the Lindisfarne Gospels

This has amazed me for a while. Although Latin is a dead language, the continuity of teaching has never been broken. Everyone who has ever been able to read Latin has learned it from a teacher – unlike most other dead languages it never had to be deciphered.

That’s pretty incredible. It means that the little nuances of the language have never been lost. Of course, some aspects have filtered out over time and have had to be rediscovered, but on the whole it’s been transferred organically, however remote it may be now. I wonder how much of it has really been passed down from teacher to student through the centuries.

The picture above is from some of the Latin text of the Lindisfarne Gospels.