The way we pronounce Uranus – Οὐρανός is an allegory for the risks of translation. We fix edges around our vowels and punctuate the spaces between. We say yir-ain-us and not ou-rahn-ous. The latter lilts and spreads, soft as cream on a cake. A lemon glaze with leaves of thyme. The former is strained at every syllable. We make the word masquerade in other sounds, desecrating a hum of wonder. A hum of wonder. Do they call that a hymn – ὕμνος? Another word from the Greek glossa – γλῶσσα. Uranus – Οὐρανός blankets and reveals the Earth. Holds our stars, gathers clouds and dispels the sun. Sometimes the colour of blue methane rising like the off-kilter planet that took his fame. It feels better to say ou-rahn-ous and I don’t think that’s just because of body memory. It’s musicality and the joy of deference. A deference to nature that is a sore loss for our language. What can it say about our capacity to care?
Athena Anasiou is a lawyer living between unceded Gadigal and Jerrinja lands. Her writing has been published by Australian Poetry (2020) and the Bundanon Trust (2020).