“All my best is dressing old words new,” writes William Shakespeare in one of his sonnets. Let’s consider an expression – “to kiss away” – from the play Antony and Cleopatra – “We have kissed away kingdoms and provinces.” (Act 3, scene 10).
Picture the world map six decades ago. Were all the countries and their flags the same as we know them today? How about traveling a couple of millennia back? What were the Seven Wonders of the ancient world and where did they reside?
Picture a book that can gracefully endure the trials of the centuries – the water, the fire, the sword. What will this book be about? In what language will it be? There is an old legend about an artist-scribe who was being burned along with a precious manuscript.
Imagine traveling around the world in thirty seconds, while looking at thirty books – each in a different language. That’s one book per second. Imagine the treasures to be discovered in this short amount of time. Is this possible? Yes, indeed, if we have the knowledge of deciphering a letter code.
When in the second half of the last century Isaac Bashevich Singer was awarded a Noble Prize for Literature, he raised an interesting question: “People ask me often, ‘Why do you write in a dying language?’” And he tried to explain: “There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life… e
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty...
O, these I lack,
To make you garlands of… my sweet friend.
- Perdita, Winter’s Tale (IV, 4)