Clayton Eshleman started his first magazine, Caterpillar, in New York City in the fall of 1967 — the very same moment I moved from Europe to the US. It wasn't until some time in late 1968 that the magazine was brought to my attention, either by Robert Kelly, with whom I was working on Paul Celan translations at Bard College, or by Thomas Meyer, a student like me at Bard. Caterpillar very quickly became the essential and most useful magazine for me in the process of absorbing American poetry and tentatively taking steps toward formulating a poetics of my own.
Here, on this day, a poem by Goethe from his West-Östlicher Divan, a poem addressed to the greatness of the Persian poet Hafiz, and that we can now read as addressing the greatness of the poet Goethe. First in the original, then in my translation.
PEN International has condemned the murder of Mohammad Bashir al-Aani and his son Elyas in Deir al-Zour City “by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS)”: “Al-Aani's death was reported last Thursday. The poet was reportedly kidnapped last fall.” From the PEN release: “According to media reports, Al-Aani and his son were originally held in an undisclosed locations with 100 others after they attempted to leave an area of the city that was besieged by IS forces. Reports emerged in recent days that both al-Aani and his son were killed after IS accused them of ‘apostasy.’ Al-Aani,” the PEN statement continues, “was known for his opposition to the Bashar al-Assad government. According to family members, the poet and his son had returned to the area to bury his wife.”