Publius Ovidius Naso was exiled out of Rome into a small village on the coast of western coast of the Black sea called Tomi. He was banished by Augustus, who never banished another writer after Ovid. It is unknown what Ovid did to be banished. Of his banishment Hughes writes, ” …was a terrible waste of life0enhancing talent.” (Hughes 87)
He then continues to quote some of Ovid’s poetry which I found very moving.
“As I can,
I solace myself with song.
There is no-one to listen.
In pretence I spend the day.
The fact that I am alive, that I put a firms front on hardship,
That I look sorrow in the face,
I owe to poetry. It offers me comfort,
Rest and remedy,
It is my guide and companion…
Our age has produced great poets,
But my reputation stands,
There are many I rank above myself,
But others rank me with them,
And I am the best-seller.” (Hughes 87)
I’m sure that artists and non-artists alike can relate to this poem. Everyone has something in their life that gives them comfort, and rest. For most it is some form of art. I have gotten into the Portland Poetry slam scene lately (solely as an audience member), and it’s quite fascinating to watch someone perform a poem they have written and realize that writing that poem and performing it was the only way for them to tell that particular story. Poetry for them in comforting, safe, and freeing. Additionally I like the moderate insecurity in this passage. I like how even back then it was common to not be confident in one’s art form. There are so many artists who do not like what they produce, yet it is enamoring to others. I think it has everything to do with how close the artist is to what they create. They have invested so much time, energy and emotion into a piece that they see it only for that and not for the beauty that it is. I just really loved this passage.
Hughes, Robert. Rome : A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage, 2012. Print.
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