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Safe passage, Robert Fagles

March 31, 2008 |  1:49 pm

Classics scholar Robert Fagles' bestselling translations from the Greek and Latin reminded us, as Seamus Heaney did with his "Beowulf," of the continuing power and appeal of epic poems. We may feel sorry to lose so important a translator as Fagles, who died March 26 at age 74. Yet one can't help but see his passing in the context of his career-long preoccupation, in "The Odyssey" and "The Aeneid," with the necessity of journeys.

Good wishes and safe passage on your new travels, Mr. Fagles. Below are some words from a fellow student of Virgil that I think you'd appreciate.

The days that are past
And the others to come
Gathered, in the present.

For years and through the centuries
A surprise at every moment
In the knowledge we are still in life,
That living ever flows, always flowing,
Unexpected gift and pain
In the continuous whirl
of empty change.

Such in keeping with our fate
Is this journey I continue,
In the flash of an instant
Unearthing and inventing
Time from first to last,
Refugee like all the others
Who have been, who are, who are to come.

           Giuseppe Ungaretti  (translated by Andrew Frisardi)

Nick Owchar