Canonical: The Rig Veda

So back in ought-eleven I started on this little self-improvement project whereby I would read the English language poetical canon in order from start to finish.

Here we are in ought-thirteen and I’m exactly one and a half books into that list, or two (where two equals one plus a half plus a half) if you count the slight detour I took after Gilgamesh to have a go at the Rig Veda.

I don’t imagine there’s much shame in admitting that the cornerstone of proto-Hindu mythology proved a bit too strange and dense for me to absorb and understand properly, but I am a little chagrined.

Even so, defeated as I think I probably was, I did read through it once. It was the second, closer read and interpretation that beat me in the end. After a month had gone by between putting the book down and picking it up again, and I realised that I was actually avoiding doing so because of the distinct homeworky taste it left in my mouth, I decided that what Anna had been saying about the limited value of the Rig Veda to a better understanding of the Western poetry canon might bear more serious consideration.

And so I bade farewell to the Veda of Rig, wishing it and its sons who gave birth to their fathers all the best and thanking it for a unique experience, setting sail instead for the more familiar waters of The Iliad, which at the time of writing I’m about halfway through the first read of, and am anticipating that I will be through the second read of sometime this year.

But before I truly leave such a mind-bending and freakycool book behind it behooves to take a moment to share some of the more amazing moments with you, dear readers.

To which end, in preparation for this post, I’ve been reading over my notebook so as to refresh my mid-Iliad memory as to what dat ol’ Rig Veda is about and what some of my fave lines were. But rather than tippy-type my notes out I’ve opted for a more authentic, in situ approach, to wit:

Um, yeah. So I may not have got it exactly, and it might have been a bit of a wrong turn with respect to this project, but no regrets from me – sometimes the long cut gives much better views than the direct route.


Poet. Author. Beard. Husband. Dad. Four chickens. Dog. Cat. I can sometimes fix my lawnmower.

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Posted in canonical, i would like to recommend these people's writing, lines I wish I'd written, poetry

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