It’s a sad truth to enunciate in these liberated times, but the fact is that even, perhaps especially, educated chaps are liable to think of a blonde as a couple of protuberancies in a t-shirt, or out of one, if they are hot (I use the word advisedly) from Damiano Michieletto’s new Don Giovanni at La Fenice. Now I want you-all to know that Miss S got this job on the strength of an English 2.1 in one of our better known ancient academies, and furthermore… well, never mind that, suffice it to say that Latin and Greek come as smoothly to Lucy as “Another pint, Harry, when you’ve a moment” to you unwashed snivelling mum’s boys. OK?
Now that’s off my chest (see above), we’ll get to the gist, which is: LUCY BEING SERIOUS FOR ONCE. Have you noticed, comatose alcoholics out there, that The Classics Are Back? Did they ever go away? I hear you mutter. Well, yes. Can you see Larkin Pounding Propertius? Almost all dear old earnest Ted’s so-called ‘Translations’ were really translated by someone who knew the language in question, and ‘versed’ by the Great Man – and what kind of translation is that? (Even Famous Seamus, I regret to say, has likewise ventured blindfold and shameless into mediaeval Polish). Ashbery? Geoff Hill, the Thinking Woman’s Crumpet? Carol Ann? Don’t make me larf.
It would be good to be able to claim that, once again, San Marco Leads the Way, but Fair Play was our watchword on the playing fields of Westheath, praise where praise is due and all that: your Lucy feels honour-bound to deliver the palm to Dan Chiasson, whose ‘The Afterlife of Objects’ (2002) and ‘Natural History’ (2005) are rife with, respectively, Horace and Pliny.
But SMP’s not far behind. About-to-be OWB pamphleteer Hugh Tolhurst ( ‘All out of Space-junk’, OWB 19 – see Press News) has no less than five racy Catullus versions in his forthcoming full collection ‘Rockling King’, while joined-at-the-hip OWB founder member Philip Morre (OWB 2) has two epigrams from Callimachus in ‘Save the Eagle’ (OWB 20). Straws in the wind? Get those Loebs down from the upper shelves, if you aim to fly with the Zeitgeist: the last time this sort of thing happened, we had the Renaissance.
What’s that subdued agitation in the cheap seats? Callimachus? Come on. Cory then (‘They told me Heraclitus…’)? Nothing? Not a glimmer? A girl despairs.