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They have inspired poets and challenged translators through the centuries. The odes of Horace are the cornerstone of lyric poetry in the Western world. Their subtlety of tone and brilliance of technique have often proved elusive, especially when — as has usually been the case — a single translator ventures to maneuver through Horace’s infinite variety. Now for the first time, leading poets from America, England, and Ireland have collaborated to bring all 103 odes into English in a series of new translations that dazzle as poems while also illuminating the imagination of one of literary history’s towering figures.
The thirty-five contemporary poets assembled in this outstanding volume include nine winners of the Pulitzer prize for poetry as well as four former Poet Laureates. Their translations, while faithful to the Latin, elegantly dramatize how the poets, each in his or her own way, have engaged Horace in a spirited encounter across time.
Each of the odes now has a distinct voice, and Horace’s poetic achievement has at last been revealed in all its mercurial majesty. In his introduction, J. D. McClatchy, the volume’s editor and one of the translators, reflects on the meaning of Horace through the ages and relates how a poet who began as a cynical satirist went on to write the odes. For the connoisseur, the original texts appear on facing pages allowing Horace’s ingenuity to be fully appreciated. For the general reader, these new translations — all of them commissioned for this book — will be an exhilarating tour of the best poets writing today and of the work of Horace, long obscured and now freshly minted.
The contributors are Robert Bly, Eavan Boland, Robert Creeley, Dick Davis, Mark Doty, Alice Fulton, Debora Greger, Linda Gregerson, Rachel Hadas, Donald Hall, Robert Hass, Anthony Hecht, Daryl Hine, John Hollander, Richard Howard, John Kinsella, Carolyn Kizer, James Lasdun, J. D. McClatchy, Heather McHugh, W. S. Mervin, Paul Muldoon, Carl Phillips, Robert Pinsky, Marie Ponsot, Charles Simic, Mark Strand, Charles Tomlinson, Ellen Bryantr Voigt, David Wagoner, Rosanna Warren, Richard Wilbur, C. K. Williams, Charles Wright, and Stephen Yenser.