Typesetting The Odyssey
Norton is smoking a pipe as he slots the letters
into a type stick, the California job case
thinning out as he uses up the m's and n's
and the e's despite their number. It's a case of
how many individual acts can a man get right
in one hand, yes it's one more revision of thought
sweating into labor and a philosophy of acts
vis-à-vis the whole tenor of a life. That is,
shall a man be stoned to death by his neighbors,
or is it sufficient to have one representative
of all who are without sin take the rap. How
on this bumpy earth can a typesetter make all
the right draws in perfect order, not even one
upside-down italic x? He can't. The classics
are the place for the gods, aglitter in the ether,
flaming the sea with their haute-supreme
perfection, and sacrosanct on their home turf:
ageless luminaries of an age when the voyage
knocked you off your pins and Troy fell.
Reprinted from Rampant, Copper Canyon Press, 2004. © Marvin Bell, 2004.
About Iowa Writes
Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
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Marvin Bell is the former Poet Laureate of Iowa.