mb – The word ‘profoundness’ has more depth.

I’m ingesting my medicine even as I type. One of the most surprising historical facts about coffee, I think, is that its first explosion in popularity was thanks to its purported ability to induce religious ecstasy. The conservative clerics in Mecca tried to ban it as a heretical substance at one point. So our modern fashion for declaring certain plants illegal has some interesting histoical parallels. At any rate, when I read that, I kind of had to wonder just how much caffeine those Sufis were ingesting!

Vasha – Welcome, and thanks for that great list! I know only the first song. I’d be tempted to include Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful Blues” too, though it only mentions coffee. Obviously, the song i included in the post is intended as a joke, by the musicians as well as by me — though for the record, i did used to listen to music like that and still have a certain fondness for it, even if in general I’d prefer to listen to Mississippi John Hurt or Lightnin’ Hopkins. Declining testosterone levels, you know.

Teju – I have a love/hate relationship with Bly as a translator. He’s like Ezra Pound; his versions are sometimes so goddamned good, it almost doesn’t matter that they don’t fairly represent the originals.

I agree about that being a weak last line. In defense of Mr. Fulton, though, how do you know that fidelty to the text permits anything better? You can’t expect every line of a faithful translation to shine, just as you can’t expect every conjugal encounter with a given partner to produce a mind-blowing orgasm.