Friday, November 26, 2010

Steller wind

Thinking about Linnaeus yesterday reminded me of Steller (born in Windsheim!) and his expedition to the Bering sea, which W.G. Sebald wrote about in After Nature. Compared with Sebald's novels, these poems have received relatively little attention, though they translate well into English and are often very pretty. Take this one, for instance:

from And if I remained by the outermost sea
W.G. Sebald [tr. Michael Hamburger, Threepenny Review 91, 10 (2002)]


Visions of this voyage of discovery,
Steller later recorded, had so seized
his imagination that he, the son
of a cantor, gifted with a
fine tenor voice and furnished
with a bursary for true Christians,
having abandoned Wittenberg and
theology for natural science,
could now, during his doctoral
disputations, which he passed
with the highest distinction,
think of nothing other than
the shapes of the fauna and
flora of that distant region
where East and West and North
converge, and of the art and skill
required for their description.

No comments: