Morning Coffee with Homeric Heroes

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Reading often Bleeds over into Collaging

Morning brings back the heroic ages.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Years ago, seated at a Border’s Book Store coffee bar and reading Thoreau’s “Reading” chapter in Walden, I came across these words and jotted them into my journal:

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.

Recalling that Thoreau’s favorite book of all time was Homer’s Iliad, which he read at least once a year in Greek, I went to the shelves and picked out this volume:

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The Loeb Classical Library features the original texts on the left pages with the English translation on the facing pages. Grateful that my seminary training included Koine Greek, I found Homeric Greek a little difficult, but still doable. I read the opening seven lines of this epic, and immediately understood why Thoreau loved a book that I thought was rather dull in English translation. The Greek text revealed many layers of meaning that I had never encountered before. Suddenly, I knew the sentiment of the poet John Keats when he stayed up all night reading from the “deep-brow’d Homer”–

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

            When a new planet swims into his ken

John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”

I purchased the volume and have used it countless times in my years teaching Humanities at Martin High School and Texas Wesleyan University. In the spirit of Thoreau, this epic poem truly opened a new chapter in my life.

Rising before daylight this morning, I resumed reading The Iliad, having opened the volume last night and regretfully closing it after midnight, too sleepy to continue reading.

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Frequently while reading, images float through my consciousness, and I am inspired to push the books aside and take out scissors, X-acto knife, glue stick, stencils, templates, pencils, tech pens. The top of my desk is suddenly cluttered with layers of cut-outs, papers and books as I enter my playground of drawing, collaging, scribbling in the journal–all the while hoping that something good will emerge.

Iliad card

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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