Ted Hughes’s translation of Racine’s Phèdre will be staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in January and published that month. His translation of the complete Oresteia, of which the poem in this issue is the opening, will be staged by the National Theatre in England and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in June. His last book was Birthday Letters. He died on October 28. (December 1998)


The Watchman’s Lament

The following is the opening of Ted Hughes’s translation of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon,which he completed before his death on October 29. Watchman: You Gods in Heaven— You have watched me here on this tower All night, every night for twelve months Thirteen moons— Tethered on the …


You had a fever. You had a real ailment. You had eaten a baddie. You lay helpless and a little bit crazy With the fever. You cried for America And its medicine cupboard. You tossed On the immovable Spanish galleon of a bed In …

On Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’

Ovid was born the year after the death of Julius Caesar and flourished in the Rome of Augustus. He completed the Metamorphoses around the time of the birth of Christ, was later banished for some unknown offense against the Emperor, and spent the last ten years of his life in …

Two Poems from Crow

TWO LEGENDS I Black was the without eye Black the within tongue Black was the heart Black the liver, black the lungs Unable to suck in light Black the blood in its loud tunnel Black the bowels packed in furnace Black too the …


I M. Sartre Considers Current Affairs Humped, at his huge broken wing of shadow, He regrows the world inside his skull, like the specter of a flower. His eyes are imprisoned in the fact That his hands have sunk to the status of flies.

Tricksters And Tarbabies

Literature Among the Primitives

by John Greenway

The Primitive Reader

edited by John Greenway
In this context, we are not to quarrel with the term Literature. It simply means what would be written down, in the way of imaginative verbal constructions, if the primitive authors could write and if their audience were also readers. We are to distinguish “Primitive Literature” from folklore. Primitive Literature …

The Genius of Isaac Bashevis Singer

Satan In Goray

by Isaac Bashevis Singer

The Family Moskat

by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer emigrated to the United States in 1935, which was the year of his first novel Satan in Goray. Since then, he has written more or less exclusively about the Jewish world of pre-war Poland, or more exactly—it’s a relevant qualification—about the Hasidic world of pre-war Poland, into …

A Hero’s History


by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Lee M. Hollander

The Prose Edda

by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jean I. Young
Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla, the history of the Norse Kings up to the end of the twelfth century, is a unique sort of historical work. It supplies the vital accompaniment to our Saga picture of the heroic age of the Norsemen that the epic worlds of the Iliad, the Irish Cycles, …