There are these lines from the handsome edition (designed by Tim Inkster and typeset at The Coach House and published by Exile Editions) of Gwendolyn MacEwen‘s translation of Helen, a poem by Yannis Ritsos, these lines that take on the mystery of what is remembered…
Now and again I can still sense that aroma — I mean, I remember it;
isn’t it strange? — those things we usually consider great, dissolve, fade away —
some other things remain, unimportant, meaningless things; I
recall seeing one day
a bird perching on a horse’s back; and that baffling thing
seemed to explain (especially for me) a certain beautiful mystery.
And between these two observations is a description of a necklace sent to Helen. The necklace which our speaker claims as being forgotten came to her after the slaughter of Clytemnestra, a necklace she never wore but is able to describe in minute detail “made / from small golden masks, held together by links / from the upper tips of their ears”. What would appear to be a dichotomy between the great and the meaningless becomes upon closer examination a relation of accessibility: access to the great comes through remembering small details. It is all that remains.
And so for day 1184