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Back to Their Desks

Benjamin Moser: Nescio, 23 May 2013

Amsterdam Stories 
by Nescio, translated by Damion Searls.
NYRB, 161 pp., £7.99, May 2012, 978 1 59017 492 0
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... of writerly dreams. And his pseudonym with its built-in negative contained this resignation. Nescio is Latin for ‘I don’t know’; and in his stories not-knowing, not-doing approaches a metaphysical ideal. ‘I’m not a poet and I’m not a nature-lover and I’m not an anarchist,’ says Japi, whose nickname gives the title to ‘The ...
... oak. Now the Bard drinks the whole river And they drink the showers from their leaves: ‘flebile nescio, quid queriter lyra, flebile lingua Murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae’ – And they quaff the subterranean waters through Their gigantic roots, still growing downwards; And the god says: ‘I have promoted you women To serious drinking, take it ...

Burn Down the Museum

Stephanie Burt: The Poetry of Frank Bidart, 6 November 2008

Watching the Spring Festival 
by Frank Bidart.
Farrar, Straus, 61 pp., $25, April 2008, 978 0 374 28603 3
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... of the same Latin distich, Catullus 85: ‘Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris./nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.’ Here is the unadorned English of the Loeb Classical Library: ‘I hate and love. Why I do so, perhaps you ask. I know not, but I feel it and am in torment.’ Here is Bidart’s first try, from The Sacrifice: ‘I hate ...

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