2 – THE STARS
He is the primary translator of Octavio Paz into English. His anthology American Poetry Since 1950: Innovators and Outsiders (1993) was a bestseller in Mexico, and his edition of Jorge Luis Borges’s Selected Non-Fictions (1999) received the National Book Critics Circle prize for criticism. In 1992, he was given PEN’s first Gregory Kolovakos Award for his work in promoting Hispanic literature in the United States, and in 2000 he was the first American literary writer to be awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the government of Mexico.
Eliot Weinberger’s publications include the collection of essays Karmic Traces: 1993-1999 and a translation of Bei Dao’s Unlock (with Iona Man-Cheong), both published by New Directions in 2000. He is the editor of The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry (2003).A Selected Bibliography
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if the stars did not radiate light they would explode; souls after death inhabit the stars– the blaze of a new star might therefore indicate that the soul of a great man, or woman, had reached its destination; ‘astrally unfortunate’; ‘disaster’ connotes the only explanation why there are so many stars we cannot see is that the Lord created them for other creatures, further out, to admire at a nearer distance; we are the center of the material universe but at the perimeter of the spiritual universe and we are doomed to watch the spectacle of the celestial dance from afar; unlike the other animals, man was made to stand erect so that he could gaze at the stars; return to rule England again; a hideous face; King Arthur is up there, waiting for his K’uei is there, the brilliant scholar born with up there is the Manger, the Mist, the Little Cloud, the Beehive; look: the Tower of Babel and the Felicity of Tents; up there are highway robbers, and doves bringing ambrosia to the gods, and the twin horsemen of the dawn; sea; up there the daughter of the wind, mourning for her husband lost at the Strong River is there, and the Palace of the Five Emperors, the Kennel of the Barking Dogs, the Straw Road, the Birds’ Way, the Snake River of Sparkling Dust; up there are the nymphs who mourn their brother Hyas, killed by a wild boar, and whose tears are shooting stars; there are the Seven Portuguese Towers, the Boiling Sea, the Place Where One Bows Down; look: the Ostriches Leaving and the Ostriches Returning and the Two Ostriches who are friends;
Cassiopeia, Queen of Ethiopia, who thought she was more beautiful than the Nereids, is there, and her hapless daughter Andromeda, and Perseus who rescued her with the head of Medusa swinging from his belt, and the monster, Cetus, he slew, and the winged horse Pegasus he rode; of Heaven; there is the bull who plows the Furrow up there is the Hand Stained with Henna, the Lake of Fullness, the Empty Bridge, the Egyptian X; and once there was a girl who married a bear and her father and brothers were so horrified they killed the bear and then she herself turned into a bear and killed her parents and chased her brothers over the mountains and through the streams and cornered them in a tree until the youngest aimed his magic bow high and each brother held on to an arrow and was shot into the sky and turned into a star up there; up there; up there is the Butcher’s Shop, the Easy Chair, the Broken Platter, the Rotten Melon, the Light of Heaven;
Hans the Wagoner, who gave Jesus a ride, is there, and the lion who fell from the moon in the form of a meteor; up there, once a year, ten thousand magpies form a bridge so that the Weaving Girl can cross the River of Light to meet the Oxherding Boy; there are the braids of Queen Berenice, who sacrificed her hair to assure her husband’s safety; up there is a ship that never reaches safe harbor, and the Whisperer, the Weeping One, the Illuminator of the Great City, and look: the General of the Wind; the Emperor Mu Wang and his charioteer Tsao Fu, who went in search of the peaches of the Western Paradise, are there;
the beautiful Callisto, doomed by Juno’s jealousy, and the goddess Marichi who drives her chariot led by wild boars through the sky; there are the Sea Goat, the Danish Elephant, the Long Blue Cloud-Eating Shark, and the White-BoneSnake; up there is Theodosius turned into a star and the head of John the Baptist turned into a star and Li Po’s breath, a star his poems make brighter; there are the Two Gates, one through which the souls descend when they are ready to enter human bodies, and the other through which they rise at death; a puma springs on its prey, and a Yellow Dragon climbs the Steps of Heaven; there up there is the Literary Woman, the Frigid Maiden, the Moist Daughters, and the Head of the Woman in Chains; there is the Thirsty Camel, the Camel Striving to Get to Pasture, and the Camel Pasturing Freely; there the Crown of Thorns or the crown that Bacchus gave Ariadne as a wedding gift; the Lion’s Liver, the Balls of the Bear; look: the Horse’s Navel, there is Rohni, the Red Deer, so beautiful that the moon, though he had twenty-seven wives, loved her alone; up there the Announcer of Invasion on the Border, the Child of the Waters, the Pile of Bricks, the Exaltation of Piled-Up Corpses, the Excessively Minute, the Dry Lake, the Sacks of Coals, the Three Guardians of the Heir Apparent, the Tower of Wonders, the Overturned Chair; up there is a cloud of dust kicked up by a buffalo, and the steamy breath of the elephant that lies in the waters that surround the earth, and the muddy water churned by a turtle swimming across the sky; up there is the broken circle that is a chipped dish, or a boomerang, or the opening of the cave where the Great Bear sleeps; up there the two donkeys whose braying made such a racket they frightened away the giants and were rewarded with a place in the sky;
there is the Star of a Thousand Colors, the Hand of Justice, the Plain and Even Way; State Umbrella; there is the Double Double; there the Roadside Inn; there the Shepherd’s Hut there the Vulture; there the look: theWinnowing Fan; there the Growing Small; there the Court of God; Quail’s Fire; up there: there St. Peter’s Ship and the Star of the Sea; the stars.