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Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus
     

Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus

by Brooks Haxton (Translator)
 
His great book, On Nature, the world's first coherent philosophical treatise and a touchstone for Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius, has long been lost to history -- but its surviving fragments have for thousands of years tantalized our greatest thinkers -- from Socrates to Montaigne, Nietzsche to Heidegger and Jung.

Now, acclaimed poet Brooks Haxton brings

Overview

His great book, On Nature, the world's first coherent philosophical treatise and a touchstone for Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius, has long been lost to history -- but its surviving fragments have for thousands of years tantalized our greatest thinkers -- from Socrates to Montaigne, Nietzsche to Heidegger and Jung.

Now, acclaimed poet Brooks Haxton brings together all of the surviving fragments in a powerful new free-verse translation, with the ancient Greek originals beautifully presented en regard.

Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun
...a new and startlingly fresh translation by a significant poet.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670891955
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Publication date:
02/01/2001
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
4.78(w) x 8.28(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt




Excerpt


Greek text omitted.


1

The Word proves
those first hearing it
as numb to understanding
as the ones who have not heard.

Yet all things follow from the Word.

Some, blundering
with what I set before you,
try in vain with empty talk
to separate the essences of things
and say how each thing truly is.

And all the rest make no attempt.
They no more see
how they behave broad waking
than remember clearly
what they did asleep.


2

For wisdom, listen
not to me but to the Word,
and know that all is one.


3

Those unmindful when they hear,
for all they make of their intelligence,
may be regarded as the walking dead.


4

People dull their wits with gibberish,
and cannot use their ears and eyes.


5

Many fail to grasp what they have seen,
and cannot judge what they have learned,
although they tell themselves they know.


6

Yet they lack the skill
to listen or to speak.


7

Whoever cannot seek
the unforeseen sees nothing,
for the known way
is an impasse.


8

Men dig tons of earth
to find an ounce of gold.


9

See note.


10

Things keep their secrets.


11

Yet without obscurity
or needless explanation
the true prophet signifies.


12

The prophet's voice possessed of god
requires no ornament, no sweetening of tone,
but carries over a thousand years.


13

The eye, the ear,
the mind in action,
these I value.


14

Now that we can travel anywhere,
we need no longer take the poets
and myth-makers for sure witnesses
about disputed facts.


15

What eyes witness,
ears believe on hearsay.


16

If learning were a path of wisdom,
those most learned about myth
would not believe, with Hesiod,
that Pallas in her wisdom gloats
over the noise of battle.


17

Pythagoras may well have been
the deepest in his learning of all men.
And still he claimed to recollect
details of former lives,
being in one a cucumber
and one time a sardine.


18

Of all the words yet spoken,
none comes quite as far as wisdom,
which is the action of the mind
beyond all things that may be said.


19

Wisdom is the oneness
of mind that guides
and permeates all things.


20

That which always was,
and is, and will be everliving fire,
the same for all, the cosmos,
made neither by god nor man,
replenishes in measure
as it burns away.


21

Fire in its ways of changing
is a sea transfigured
between forks of lightning
and the solid earth.


22

As all things change to fire,
and fire exhausted
falls back into things,
the crops are sold
for money spent on food.


23

The earth is melted
into the sea
by that same reckoning
whereby the sea
sinks into the earth.


24

Hunger, even
in the elements,
and insolence.


25

Air dies giving birth
to fire. Fire dies
giving birth to air. Water,
thus, is born of dying
earth, and earth of water.


26

Fire of all things
is the judge and ravisher.


27

How, from a fire
that never sinks
or sets,
would you escape?


28

One thunderbolt strikes
root through everything.


29

No being, not the sun
itself, exceeds due measure,
but contending powers
set things right.


30

Dawn turns to dusk
around the pivot
of the North.
Southward lies
the zone
of greater light.


31

Without the sun,
what day? What night?


32

The sun is new
again, all day.

(Continues...)

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