Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Life

In March of this year, I shared E. K. Chambers's lovely poem written in memory of Thomasine ("Tamsin") Trenoweth.  I was reminded of Tamsin, rest her soul, when I came across this a few days ago:

Short is my say, O stranger.  Stay and read.
Not fair this tomb, but fair was she it holds.
By her name her parents called her Claudia.
Her wedded lord she loved with all her heart.
She bare two sons, and one of them she left
On earth, the other in the earth she laid.
Her speech was pleasing and her bearing gracious.
She kept house:  span her wool.    I have said.    Farewell.

Anonymous (translated by F. L. Lucas), in Adrian Poole and Jeremy Maule (editors), The Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation (Oxford University Press 1995).  The translation first appeared in an essay by Lucas that was published in The New Statesman on May 10, 1924.

The lines are a Latin funerary inscription that was discovered in Rome.  It is believed to date from approximately 135 to 120 B.C.  The inscription was engraved on a tablet or pillar, which has now disappeared.  E. H. Warmington, Remains of Old Latin, Volume 4: Archaic Inscriptions (Harvard University Press 1940), page 13.

Mary Hunter (1878-1936), "Hyacinths"

After discovering the inscription in the morning, I encountered the following single-sentence notebook entry by Philippe Jaccottet in the evening:

"The imperceptible movement of an invisible soul and the enormous sun."

Philippe Jaccottet (translated by Tess Lewis), Seedtime: Notebooks 1954-1979 (Seagull Books 2013), page 159.  Jaccottet made the entry in October of 1967.

It is often best to simply place two things beside each other and leave them be.

Fred Stead (1863-1940), "River at Bingley, Yorkshire"

2 comments:

Bovey Belle said...

I followed the link of course, as Tamzin with a zee is my eldest daughter's name. What a lovely poem. I am glad MY Tamzin is still hale and hearty and arriving home tomorrow from a music festival. As you say, perhaps E K Chambers holidayed in Cornwall - as Lelant is not far from St Ives perhaps he had friends amongst the artists' colony there?

The Latin inscription says little but encompasses all. Philippe Jaccottet I had never discovered until now. Thank you.

Stephen Pentz said...

Bovey Belle: It's great to hear from you again. From checking in on Codlins and Cream, I know that your life is as busy as ever, so I appreciate your taking the time to visit, and to share your thoughts.

The Tamsin poem is indeed wonderful, isn't it? Tamsin/Tamzin is a lovely name. When I was doing research after discovering the poem, I learned that there are a number of variants on Thomasine/Thomasina.

I think you would like reading Jaccottet. I recommend Seedtime, his notebooks, as a starting point. His poetry can be a bit difficult to penetrate (for me it is, at least), but I think you would like his minute and beautiful prose descriptions of the natural world in his notebook entries. He has lived in the countryside of Provence, up near the mountains, since the early 1950s, and his immersion in that world is evident. In this regard, his prose writings remind me a bit of E. T.'s in their emotional tenor. Hence, I believe you may find him interesting.

As always, it is a pleasure to have you visit. Thank you very much for stopping by.