By Dr. Valeria Forte
Dr. Karl Maurer was the quintessential embodiment of a classicist: he represented a direct connection with the tradition of Classical Studies as conceived in the purest form, by the ancient Greco-Roman school.
I had the pleasure to interact with Dr. Maurer for 15 years, mainly on the green fields outside Carpenter Hall, within our decrepit, beloved classrooms and offices and via e-mails. He loved poetry with his soul and he was an expert in poetic “techne”.
With a marker in his hand, faithful to the traditional teaching style of the “Old School”, Dr. Maurer would illustrate and create the complex beauty of Greek poetic forms; under his hand the artistic nature of Greek language would materialize in all its complexity: acute, grave, circumflex accents, spirito dolce and spirito aspro, metatesi quantitativa and more! Under his hands the poor blackboards in Carpenter would be transformed in precious, intricate texts to be preserved forever.
Over a decade ago, Dr. Maurer held a symposium at UD and I had the pleasure to be invited. He discussed the poetic representation of the Homeric Odysseus and Dante’s reinterpretation in terzine. I cannot recall a higher honor.
Our distinguished professor was also enchanted by Tasso’s poetic sensuality and elegance, and often we indulged in long discussions about Tasso’s poetic alternanza of rational and irrational, reality and dream, as expressed in his exquisite verses.
Dr. Maurer and I would exchange ideas on the power of our brains, selective memorization and other abstruse, esoteric concepts. Our discussions would always be accompanied by the clashing effluvial scents of his tobacco and my exotic Levantine fragrances!
During the last two years, on my way to Carpenter, I would pause with him under his favorite tree, at times only for few minutes, we would talk about gematria, manipulation of letters and numbers, alternative poetic expressions and my “post-poetic phase”. Our words now lost in the wind, it all feels like a dream.
“As one who sees within a dream, and, later,
the passion that has been imprinted stays,
but nothing of the rest returns to mind,
such am I, for my vision almost fades
completely, yet it still distills within
my heart the sweetness that was born of it.
So in the snow, beneath the sun, unsealed;
and so, on the light leaves, beneath the wind,
the oracles The Sybil wrote were lost”
Dr. Forte is the Italian Program Director for The University of Dallas