Sunday, 16 August 2015

Some richness of the spirit

Here's a quote which made me pause for a moment while reading a pile of Poirot short stories I never got round to before.

‘You seem,’ Poirot said, ‘to be well acquainted with the culture of the marrow?’

‘Seen gardeners doing it when I’ve been staying in the country. But seriously, Poirot, what a hobby! Compare that to’ – his voice sank to an appreciative purr – ‘an easy-chair in front of a wood fire in a long, low room lined with books – must be a long room – not a square one. Books all round one. A glass of port – and a book open in your hand. Time rolls back as you read:’ he quoted sonorously:

Μὴτ ὃ αὐτε xυβερνὴτης ἐνὶ οὶνοπι πόντῳ

νῆα θοὴν ιθύνει ἐρεχθομένην ὰνέμοισι

He translated:

“By skill again, the pilot on the wine-dark sea straightens

The swift ship buffeted by the winds.” *

Of course you can never really get the spirit of the original.’

For the moment, in his enthusiasm, he had forgotten Poirot. And Poirot, watching him, felt suddenly a doubt – an uncomfortable twinge. Was there, here, something that he had missed? Some richness of the spirit? Sadness crept over him.

Agatha Christie - The Labours of Hercules (1947)

* Iliad


Graeme said...

Well she was married to an archaeologist... Maybe she was on the receiving end of wonderful classical fireside chats

Demetrius said...

Wine dark sea? Are you a fan of Homer Simpson?

A K Haart said...

Graeme - I'm sure she was. I sometimes wish I'd been an archaeologist.

Demetrius - I am, but who isn't?