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Roman nature

How poetry helped one scholar understand his mother

by
Stephanie Butnick
August 04, 2011
Stephen Greenblatt.(Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Gazette)

Stephen Greenblatt.(Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Gazette)

Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt talks anxiety and nature with Blake Eskin in this week’s New Yorker podcast. Greenblatt says the Roman poet Lucretius—specifically his poem On the Nature of Things—helped him understand his Jewish mother and the blessings that, he explains, went “squandered” and “undigested” due to her fears.

His (subscription-only) essay on the ancient poem can also be found in the magazine’s August 8 edition.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.