Science | On Writing | Climate Change

How Translating Annie Dillard Helps Me Attend to a Dying World

Dillard stalked a world just beginning its freefall into an unprecedented amount of change, and her response was to look, and to look hard.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,

I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame.

Cedrum horti, ubi columbae insident, motam et transformatam vidi, quisque atomus cum flamma perstrepens.


Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,

Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells un-flamed and disappeared.

Paulatim lumina extinctus sunt in cedro, colores mortuus sunt, atomus inflagravit et evanescet.

I imagine that [translation] is also what prayer might feel like, when it really works: like hearing a great resonant echo, tumbling down from the mountains to wrap you up


radicitus focilata et radicitus somniata

I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.

Campanam fueram per vitam meam totam, et numquam scivi hoc usque illo momento levatus et percussus sum.