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Fragments

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2
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Paperback Book
Publisher: 
Penguin
 | 
October, 2003
ISBN:
9780142437650
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An exact contemporary of Confucius, Lao Tzu and the Buddha, Heraclitus of Ephesus gave up his kingdom and chose, instead of the trappings of power, to seek the Word of wisdom. Twenty-five hundred years before Einstein, Heraclitus declared that energy is the essence of matter, that everything becomes energy in flux, in relativity:

All things change to fire,

and fire exhausted

Falls back into things.

His great book, On Nature, the world’s first coherent philosophical treatise and a touchstone for Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius, has long been lost to history—but its surviving fragments have for thousands of years tantalized our greatest thinkers—from Socrates to Montaigne, Nietzsche to Heidegger and Jung.

In Fragments, poet Brooks Haxton brings together all the surviving fragments in nimble new free-verse translations, with the ancient Greek originals beautifully presented en regard.

One thunderbolt strikes

root through everything.

*

Since mindfulness, of all things

is the ground of being,

to speak one’s true mind,

and to keep things known

in common, serves all being.

*

One’s bearing

shapes one’s fate.

In his foreword, James Hillman, author of The Soul’s Code, writes: “As well as giving a vision of the nature of things and the truth of the world we live in, the passages state a poetics of dissonance—another reason Heraclitus has appeal for writers, artists, and psychologists. In the heart of the mind there is a tension. We are pulled apart, enflamed, and at risk. Therefore, our expressions must hold the tension so as to bespeak accurately and poignantly the actual soul as it exists. ‘How, from a fire that never sinks or sets, would you escape?’ (verse 27).”

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