Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Poetry Sunday: Jorge Luis Borges

Yep, missed Poetry Friday again. The past week was a blur of paper wrangling; feeling puny and not getting nearly enough sleep; being impatient with the excruciatingly slow pace of my efforts to get things under control; performing what I suspect is a kind of informational and professional "nesting" as I prepare to write the dissertation; studying for French midterms and not doing as well as I wanted on them; studying for a tip test at the dojang and doing rather miserably on it; buying about a month's worth of groceries; battling our apartment's continued ant infestation; and taking poor Mouse to the vet, where he had to have three bad teeth extracted as part of a vigorous dental cleaning. (Apparently, ginger cats are particularly prone to dental issues, and Mouse's formative years on the street didn't do him any favors in that regard.)

There was a very pleasant bit of drinking and socializing with two potential dojang training partners on Thursday night, as well as a very pleasant bit of drinking, socializing, and grilled meat at Morgan and Bellwether's on Friday night. So that was good.

I have some ideas for somewhat more substantial posts and might actually get around to writing them eventually, but right now I'm pouring lots of energy into trying to get organized and clean up the messes of the past few years.

Meanwhile, here's a belated poem, this one by Jorge Luis Borges. Borges' work always haunts me; this one haunts me more than most.

Composición escrita en un ejemplar de la gesta de Beowulf

A veces me pregunto qué razones
Me mueven a estudiar sin esperanza
De precisión, mientras mi noche avanza,
La lengua de los ásperos sajones.
Gastada por los años la memoria
Deja caer la en vano repetida
Palabra y es así como mi vida
Teje y desteje su cansada historia.
Será (me digo entonces) que de un modo
Secreto y suficiente el alma sabe
Que es immortal y que su vasto y grave
Circulo abarca todo y puede todo.
Más allá de este afán y de este verso
Me aguarda inagotable el universo.

Poem Written in a Copy of Beowulf

At various times I have asked myself what reasons
moved me to study while my night came down,
without particular hope of satisfaction,
the language of the blunt-tongued Anglo-Saxons.
Used up by the years my memory
loses its grip on words that I have vainly
repeated and repeated. My life in the same way
weaves and unweaves its weary history.
Then I tell myself: it must be that the soul
has some secret sufficient way of knowing
that it is immortal, that its vast encompassing
circle can take in all, accomplish all.
Beyond my anxiety and beyond this writing
the universe waits, inexhaustible, inviting.

--translation by Alastair Reid