(Horace, Heroides 3.4)
Tears bear the weight of the voice.
pron = LAH-krih-mai POHN-deh-rah WOH-kis HAH-bent.
Comment: These words come from the beginning of Horace's third
of the Heroides. He says that the letter the reader is about to read
is stained with the tears of the woman who wrote it, tears, he says,
which bear the weight, carry the power, of the voice. Read the words,
otherwise, but read the voice between the words, in the stains of
We don't talk much about the power or weight of tears in our culture.
Mostly, as a male child, I was told not to cry. At times, I was
threatened for crying. I learned, well, not to cry. I remember
finding tears again when my first child was born. Or, more honestly,
they found me. They welled up and overcame me, and they did speak
much more powerfully than words could have at the time. And, to be
honest, those tears at the birth of my first child not only contained
feelings of joy at her birth, at the wonder of it, nor only the deep
relief that my wife survived what had become an emergency C-section,
but those tears also contained something of my own childhood pains and
losses that had laid buried until then.
There. There's one example that I could keep writing about for hours.
What a bore that would be for the reader. More to the point, where
and when, lately, have tears carried the deep weight of your voice--a
voice unarticulated in words? Or, when was the time that tears overtook you and spoke your voice far better than your words did? What do those tears have to say to you--the only true recipient of their meaning?
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive