Simonides, cont. Death.
January 10, 2009 § Leave a comment
I’ve been cleaning dust off my surviving brother’s face with the clone tool in Photoshop. It’s a curiously intimate act, especially in this photograph, where he is young, long haired and dreamy, sitting on the sunny porch of my mother’s house 30 years ago, his pals down below, not the camera’s concern; there’s an empty beer bottle at his feet and he probably has a hangover. Anne Carson writes in “The Economy of The Unlost”, her book about Simonides and Paul Celan, that Simonides invented the epigraph, and it was probably the constraints of the gravestone that perfected his economy of language. Many of his poems commemorate dead soldiers. She claims as his the line, “We all owe a debt to death” and writes that it was the custom on the island of Ceos, where the poet was born, for those who reached the age of 60 to drink hemlock, in order to preserve scarce resources for the young. Simonides left the island for a grand career and lived into his 90’s.