Love as Communication:A Short, Redacted Argument from the Phaedrus
οὕτω τὸ τοῦ κάλλους ῥεῦμα πάλιν εἰς τὸν καλὸν διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων ἰόν1—Plato, Phaedrus, 255c
If truth is reapedfrom the garden of love, sown by loversin earnest toil,waiting patiently for eight monthsfor the seeds to ripen and growinto flowers and fruits,
Talk to me then, my love.
For our conversation is drawing water (I from you)and pouring water (I upon you);the cold inspiration will wet the roots of featherspacked dormant on our sides,and will make them sprout wings like green shoots of lilac.We will flap our new wings,and ride our joys and sorrows,always mixed in one,brushing the white clouds and silver starsin the sky of day and night. [End Page 230] Writings, the image of a mind,no longer present,gift you with a loom that does not weavethe rivulets of minutes into the currents of hours,but unweaves youthinto a rich pall of velourgorgeously spread.
Poetry pursues a woman for four long years,having wasted her grains like the fat geese,haunting the parapet of her dream,until one daythe sweet hero of conversation came homeand slew them all.
But don't fret over shades of a palinode,Thrice removed from truth.They don't give and need help from a mother,figured in dark from the dark,simply shadow living speech.
O, pure water comes from the running brook of our love,of our small talk under the city wallor the tall plane tree, words rising like the Castalian Springwashing our souls clean—two supplicants of truth, not fromHomer,or his duplicitous gods and heroesthat need no recognition,but from you and our living wordsfluttering like a capein the ancient Athenian breeze.
1. So the river of beauty flows back through the eyes into the beauty (my translation). [End Page 231]