“The deep verifying element”

Seamus Heaney:

“Everything in The Odyssey has been moved from the condition of factuality to the condition of vision.

“Nothing hazy or unattainable is meant by the word ‘vision’. On the contrary, what Homer does is to keep his modern readers closer to flesh and blood and earth and water than they have been used to. There is something immensely exhilarating about reading him. It has to do with being put into vivid, seemingly unmediated contact with primary sensation, as if a blindfold had been removed and the familiar began to reapproach from a new, revealing angle and distance….Homer’s poetry is indeed an another world, not separate from the one we live in but other in the way that Odysseus seems to be in those scenes of the poem where he comes to the feast, fresh from a hot bath, massaged with oil, and arranged in laundered garments. Homer’s world has been similarly bathed in the deep verifying element of an undistracted dream-life.”

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