Horace is one of the great Latin poets and David Ferry’s translations of Horace’s odes are masterful.
As noted by on critic, D.S. Carne-Ross, The New Criterion, notes: “David Ferry has done what nobody has been able to do since … the 1740’s; he has found a voice, contemporary and yet Horatian, through which that poetical wonder, the Odes of Horace, can address us.”
The Odes of Horace, translated by David Ferry, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
I was so taken by the Odes, that I wrote a poem to celebrate Horace, which appears in my second collection, Having Lived. I’d never written any such poem to a poet before — or since. Here it is:
You told Dellius he would die,
regardless of how well he had shaped his world.
But the gods held you in higher esteem: no death
for your voice, though your shade
long ago boarded that darkened boat.
The incense and music you knew
still rise from page to life ─ fresh cut lily, rose
welcome us as we join you
at Numida’s return.
Of course, the wine still flows.
Gathered on a beach near Tarentum,
it’s your grave we’ve found, not Archytas’.
It’s you we hear when the sailor cries out.
But we’ve not come
to mourn: the finest part of you
has outweighed death.
Your voice still colors the Hyperborean steppes.
No need for three more handfuls of sand, either,
to ensure Fortuna’s blessing:
your songs remain sung.
To celebrate your gifts, they’ll be no stop
to the dancing. Bring more wine! Offer Horace
raised cups, a garland of myrtle; like him, marvel
at what Clotho has spun.
© Joseph Murphy 2018