On Aging

From “Mathios Paschalis among the Roses”, by George Seferis:

Her aunt was a poor old body, — veins in relief,
Many wrinkles about her ears, a nose about to die;
Yet her words always full of wisdom.
One day I saw her touching Antigone’s breast,
Like a child stealing an apple

Will I perhaps meet the old woman as I keep descending?
When I left she said to me “Who knows when we shall meet again?”
Then I read of her death in some old newspapers
And of Antigone’s wedding and the wedding of Antigone’s daughter
Without an end of the steps or of my tobacco
Which imparts to me the taste of a haunted ship
With a mermaid crucified, when still beautiful, to the wheel.

(Excerpted from “George Seferis: Poems”, translated from the Greek by Rex Warner, Nonpareil Books, 1960)

A Heart Unloosed

On the Mexican 200-peso note, in place of the usual frock-coated revolutionary leaders and be-feathered Aztec potentates, is a portrait of a woman, wearing the cowl of a nun.

She’s an attractive woman, but with a gaze that’s steady, even stern: she doesn’t look patient, or particularly warm, but her face is decorating a piece of currency, so you have to think she might be someone worth knowing.

That woman is Sor Juana, Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Hieronymite nun, and one of the greatest minds of the 17th century.

Continue reading “A Heart Unloosed”