John Kinsella

January 10, 2013 Kinsella John



Jorge Luis Borges translated Thomas Browne

into seventeenth-century Spanish. I read this

in an interview with Daniel Bourne, whom I know

but haven’t seen (in Ohio) for many years.

Borges told Daniel, that ‘I’ – then ‘we’ – ‘took

a chapter out of Urne Buriall’ and rendered

it unto, or maybe in the manner of, Quevedo.


The slippage was in the Latin, as is the slippage

in the hairy children of ‘Languedock, called the Morgellons’,

noted in Browne’s ‘Letter to a Friend’, and sourced

to name a hairs-under-the-skin scourge of modernity,

seen by some as ‘delusional parasitosis’.


The spread of this disease is concomitant (we read)

with that of the web, a metaphor for invasiveness,

to catch by proxy or suggestion. The psychosomatics

of living in the windfall of uranium decantation ponds

at Narbonne (Colonia Narbo Martius), commune

of Languedoc-Roussillon, where we would have gone


with its ‘Languedock’-like spelling, our nine-year-old

prey to uranium hairs that grow unseen, undeclared,

only just recognised. Precise or imprecise as a word,

a coinage of a learned and inquisitive stylist

of the English language; Romantic irritant.

John Kinsella’s poetry volume Insomnia was published by WW Norton in the US in 2020. Norton will publish his new selected poems in 2025, and a new collection of poetry, Aporia, will appear with Turtle Point Press, also in 2025. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University, and an Affiliated Scholar with Kenyon College.