« Greece within »

Pour le plaisir (et pour le partager), j’ai traduit en anglais un petit article de Philippe Jaccottet intitulé « La Grèce intérieure »! Je le partage aussi ici. Jaccottet explique comment la Grèce antique vit encore même lorsqu’on n’en a pas une connaissance pointue. (Et heureusement qu’elle vit encore même sans connaissance pointue…)

« I have never been to Greece, and it is not what matters (like someone fears to go to the cinema to watch a book they really liked getting disfigured by concessions, I would fear too much the lies of tourism, the perceptual mistakes caused by trips taken too fast) ; but I understand better and better, even if I have almost lost all touch with the Greek language and works, that this loss of touch is but an appearance, and that in reality, when the gift of a world like this one has been given to us by such passionate masters as the ones I had the chance to meet, it goes down so deeply in us that our life, henceforth, finds itself enlightened forever. This language we studied with more or less trouble, these books we understood more or less clearly, these statues, these temples more imagined than actually seen, do not form at all anymore, after a certain amount of years, what we call a « knowledge base », that is to say a burden of knowledge. Perhaps we do not know really well anymore what Plato or Aeschylus said, but this entire world (that is the beginning of so many things) became light, lighting guidance, reminder of the perfection Man can achieve once he has discovered his true measure.

And I also understand now that if I loved so much these provençal landscapes which bear the mark of the Mediterranean Sea even when more than one hundred kilometers separate them from it, it is because what moved me, spoke to me in them with such strength and perseverance, was, even before I suspected it, a kind of voice similar to that of Greece. It is not necessary for remains (altars, temples, statues) of this world to stand here (although there are some of them as well, through the Romans’ heritage) ; for the strength which had them erected in Greece twenty-five centuries ago mysteriously continues to be present in this other land nowadays ; it is only more hidden. I think, for example, that Cézanne’s landscapes give a fairer and more powerful idea of what the (inner) light of Greece can be than all of those Renaissance works, so beautiful nonetheless, in which the painter, so he would cling to Antiquity, multiplicated the nymphs, the gods, though the Aixois painter’s landscapes only picture trees, skies and rocks. Thus poetry, nowadays, can exhume from the soil itself something that is more alive than all the remains : a kind of spirit, of breath, of call that says the mind’s light is extinguished in no way, and that at the moment when there is no temple to host the gods anymore, it does not mean the Divine itself is destroyed : perhaps even that makes It more purely present. At least this is the dream that has been haunting me for a long time under the holm oaks and the pines. »