Poem notes

Twenty-one glosses on poems from The Greek Anthology

By Neil Philip

These very free versions of poems from The Greek Anthology began as an excuse to avoid doing more serious work. In a spirit of playfulness I began recasting Greek lyrics into a world of one-bar electric fires, credit cards, and charity shops. The result was a curious hybrid of ancient and modern – the Attic and the attic – which made me laugh. And so I carried on until I had written around a hundred, from which these are selected.

I began in each case with the literal prose translations in the Loeb edition (I did study Ancient Greek at school, but what shaky grasp of it I acquired then has deserted me now) and then re-cast them in the spirit of a be-bop musician riffing on a standard melody. The resulting verses are therefore the opposite of respectful word-for-word translations. Some of them do remain fairly close to the source poems, but others veer so far away as to be practically new creations. So  I call them ‘glosses’, hoping to convey the spirit in which my texts both attend to and diverge from the originals.


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