! The Present Is A Present, So Be Present

Always, behind the known,
the greater unknown…

behind the tedious Latin translation,
the struggle to find French elegance in French -
the private joys of the translator…
that rare intimacy, as a soul to soul
across the divides of language…

‘Laetus in praesens’ says Marsilio Ficino
in his Renaissance colloquial Latin
written up around the wall
of his Academy, such as it was…

The translator – half mechanical,
half philosopher, scribbles down
‘Rejoice in the present’..
and presently, pauses, contemplates…

Is it, was it, as easy as all that?
Sounds good, but is it practical?

In another age, Eckhart Tolle will expound
The Power Of Now – how joy
will follow presence, as the night the day…

The translator, cautious in his guidelines,
contemplates ‘Be present, rejoicing..’
as a poetic alternative… thus satisfying
philosophy as the study of causes…
checks various manuscripts; ah,
it’s written in one as ‘impraesens’…
almost adjectival; as a necessary state:
‘rejoice, being present’ then, perhaps?

Behind the shoulder of the translator,
stands as always, just as does
the unknown at the shoulder of the known,
(not quite nudging, sometimes, the writing arm)
the author…so close, this present moment,
is his presence…

the translator, gifted with a present by the wise,
the presence of the wise,
is wholly present; and that almost
imperceptible joy – recognised only
by the absence of all other things –
which the wise call bliss,
steals like a blessing
from the eternal, timeless, unblemished,
perfect now.

by Michael Shepherd

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