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This report is taken from PN Review 262, Volume 48 Number 2, November - December 2021.

The Cruise Rachel Hadas
We put to sea again with our broken oars.
– ‘Mythistorema’, George Seferis

The ship was still becalmed. Or had we barely begun to move? You students and I sat or lounged on the deck, in little clusters – it was hard to maintain distance. Guest lecturers, one or two of them some weeks, clambered out of their mythical lives (their caves beneath the sea, their specialized islands) to visit us and generously shared an hour with us on the deck: Gregory Nagy, Alicia Stallings, Diane Svarlien, and many others. I could only pay them for their time with maple syrup (my parting guest-gift, if they wanted it) from my trees in another state, another country, another life, another age. To pay for time… but maybe time was cheap. Didn’t we all have it in abundance? The students, struggling with assignments and deadlines, might have a different take on time from mine. Still, I wasn’t paying (or not paying) for time; I was paying, or not, for knowledge. For wisdom.

The lecturers dried themselves in the sun and sat down with us and told us stories, many secondary stories sprouting, ramifying from the one primal story that we’d been sailing through all semester. Some of their stories came from the province of philology, zeroing in on words that chimed with other words and looped into chains of images and ideas. Natasha Bershadsky pointed out to us the twitching feet of the hanged maids, caught like thrushes in a net, and ...


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