The Shipwreck Sea: Love Poems and Essays in a Classical Mode (Hardcover)

The Shipwreck Sea: Love Poems and Essays in a Classical Mode By Jeffrey M. Duban Cover Image

The Shipwreck Sea: Love Poems and Essays in a Classical Mode (Hardcover)


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In the words of poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), Sappho was "simply nothing less--as she is certainly nothing more--than the greatest poet who ever was at all." Born more than 2,600 years ago on the Greek island of Lesbos, Sappho, the namesake lesbian, wrote amorously of men and women alike, exhibiting both masculine and feminine tendencies in her poetry and life. What's left of her writing and what we know of her is fragmentary, and thus ever subject to speculation and study.

The Shipwreck Sea highlights the love poetry of the soulful Sappho, the impassioned Ibycus, and the playful Anacreon, among other Greek lyric poets of the age (seventh to fifth centuries BC), with verse translations into English by author Jeffrey Duban. The book also features selected Latin poets who wrote on erotic themes--Catullus, Lucretius, Horace, and Petronius--and poems by Charles Baudelaire, with his milestone rejoinder to lesbian love ("Lesbos") and, in the same stanzaic meter, a turn toward the consoling power of memory in love's more frequently tormented recall ("Le Balcon"). Duban also translates selected Carmina Burana poems of Carl Orff, frequently Anacreontic in spirit.

The essays include a comprehensive analysis and a new translation of Horace's famed Odes 1.5 ("To Pyrrha"), in which the theme of (love's) shipwreck predominates, as well as an opening treatise-length argument on the irrelevance of gender to artistic creation--exploring painting, sculpture, literature, and other Western art forms. (No, Homer was not a woman, and it would make no difference if it were true.) Twenty full-color art reproductions--masterpieces in their own right--illustrate and enliven Duban's argument.

Finally, Duban presents a selection of his own love poems, imitations, and pastiches, written over a lifetime--composed in the "classical mode," the leitmotif of this volume.

The Shipwreck Sea is a delightful and always thought-provoking companion to The Lesbian Lyre: Reclaiming Sappho for the 21st Century. Both books vividly demonstrate that classicism yet thrives in our time despite all the modernism marshaled against it.


Introduction: Five Archaic Greek Lyric Poets

PART 1: Female Homer and the Fallacy of Gendered Sensibility

PART 2: Archaic Greek Lyric Poets: Sappho, Archilochus, Alcman, Anacreon, and Ibycus

PART 3: Selected Beuern Song Translations: From Carmina Burana

PART 4: Expository Translations from the Latin and Charles Baudelaire: Kisses Uncounted, Onslaughts, Hardening, Satiety, Profligacy, Enravishment, and the Infinite Abyss

PART 5: Save and Sound Ashore: Horace, Odes 1.5, "To Pyrrha"

PART 6: In a Classical Mode: Poems / Catullan Caprices / Sapphics / Reproof / Envoie / Aforetime / From the Hebrew

Glossary to Ancient Sources
General Bibliography
Standard Editions of Greek Lyric Texts

Product Details ISBN: 9781912992003
ISBN-10: 1912992000
Publisher: Clairview Books
Publication Date: January 15th, 2019
Pages: 368
Language: English