Sunday, March 20, 2011

Herakleitos Fragment 24 (History Is)


History is a child building a sand-castle by the sea, and that child is the whole majesty of man's power in the world.

Trans. Guy Davenport, Herakleitos and Diogenes. San Francisco, Grey Fox Press, 1976.


  1. Smooth between sea and land
    Is laid the yellow sand,
    And here through summer days
    The seed of Adam plays.

    Here the child comes to found
    His unremaining mound,
    And the grown lad to score
    Two names upon the shore.

    Here, on the level sand,
    Between the sea and land,
    What shall I build or write
    Against the fall of night?

    Nothing: too near at hand,
    Planing the figured sand,
    Effacing clean and fast
    Cities not built to last
    And charms devised in vain,
    Pours the confounding main.

  2. "Pours the confounding main". "His unremaining mound". I love those. Curtis

  3. That's a poem Housman did not bother to publish in his lifetime. (I cut out a couple stanzas.)

    Confounding could've been rhymed with bounding; "Sailing, sailing, o'er the confounding main."
    "Boy's mound" would've made Wally Rowe cackle.

    Do you remember inserting "lads in their hundreds" into a column we co-wrote?

  4. "Lads in their hundreds" sounds familiar. Lately my whole life is revisiting me nightly in dreams. That's what a combination of temporary teetotal and permanent exhaustion will do to you. Your comment about W. Rowe is absolutely accurate, but chiefly I remember the nervous tic cough, which I guess was related to the his entire persona, and a few key aphorisms he passed along. I thought he was a very good teacher and guide and I remain grateful to him for setting me on the right path. Curtis