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Horace, The Odes: New Translations by Contemporary Poets (Facing Pages) [Paperback]

Horace , J. D. McClatchy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Mar 2005 Facing Pages

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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Thus edition (14 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691119813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691119816
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.5 x 22.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,080,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"McClatchy's fellow poets have succeeded where many a scholar has failed. . . . The resulting collection is . . . a wonderfully varied tribute to the mercurial poet it honors."--Amanda Kolson Hurley, Times Literary Supplement

"Many of the 35 poets here are well established--Charles Simic, Robert Bly, Anthony Hecht; others are known as distinguished translators; and the match with Horace tends to put them on top form. . . . But even the most brilliant ideas can flop in execution. This one soars. It brings us as close to the real Horace as we can come."--Tom Payne, The Daily Telegraph

"This book will help initiate--and re-initiate--modern readers to some of the best lyric poetry ever produced. . . . [T]he poems are rendered not by one hand, but by the best contemporary poets. . . . J. D. McClatchy has doled out his assignments wisely to the finest poets writing in English in England, America, and Ireland, and they've done their work well."--Tracy Lee Simmons, The Weekly Standard

From the Inside Flap

"J. D. McClatchy's extraordinary collection gives us the richest version of Horace's odes ever made available in English."--Harold Bloom

"This is an invigorating book. A veritable parnassium of poets has brought us Horace, not just in today's terms but in yesterday's glory. No doubt each reader will prefer this translation to that, but it is a choice among succulents. With schoolroom dust removed, here is a poet as bright as every day, yet sober as a man who has felt twilight's arrival in every dawn."--William H. Gass

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Maecenas, my protector, descendant of kings, Friend, fountain of honor-in this world different things Give different people joy. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 21 April 2010
This is simply a wonderful set of translations. Some of them are very close to the structure and vocabulary of the originals, others are freer and more imaginative, but never descend into eisegesis. The introduction is superb, and worth it for the short quote from Tennyson on p.13 and the anecdote of A E Housman reading Ode IV:7 on pp. 2-3. You might not like all the translations, but they are all fresh, many of them brilliant, and the translating poets obviously engaged deeply with their originals.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Render Now The Feast You Pledged To Jove 25 Nov 2012
By demola
This is a collection of Horace's Odes, 103 of them, translated by an army of 35, each translation set alongside the Latin original. As can be expected with so many hands to the till each translator brings a different approach (faithfulness to the text, contemporary interpretation, faithfulness to the meter etc). If the reader, like me, is not a poet and does not understand Latin, then I don't think the differences in style will be noticed. You will notice though when a translation about lions in their natural habitat inserts Namibia for Juba. I hate it when translators substitute modern slangs and place names for ancient ones; it jars.

Horace covers sex, love, the myths, history, contemporaneous reflections on life and other things inbetween. The odes are surprisingly easy to read and if at times obscure very enjoyable for the clear lyrical style.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good commentary---misleadingly presented by Amazon 9 Nov 2005
By David Lupher - Published on Amazon.com
Kenneth Quinn's edition of Horace's odes is the best edition and commentary in print aimed at undergraduate-level classes. I have taught it myself a number of times over the years and have found it perfectly acceptable. What I want to protest is Amazon's habit of pasting faulty information onto its books' websites. For instance, when one clicks on Quinn's edition of Horace, one gets a web-page that offers a bit of the translation of the first ode, some "editorial reviews," and one reader review---all of which refer not to Quinn's edition and commentary but to J.D. McClatchy's "Horace: The Odes: New Translations of Contemporary Poets." I have often noticed that when one clicks on a particular translation of, say, Homer or Vergil, the Amazon site will shower one with blurbs and reader reviews of some *other* translation, a fact that can easily confuse the unwary. In this case, a prospective reader who wants to know more about a particular edition (i.e. Latin text, with no translation) and commentary of Horace is being treated to all sorts of information about a very different bird entitely: a *translation* of the odes. This is getting silly. Please fix this, Amazon!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horace in the "Chaotic Age" 16 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of the finest translations of Horace ever compiled, all done by modern poets. Each translation seem done with care, more for the spirit of the poem than its transliterative meaning. The method of approaching Horace, by distributing the odes among some forty poets, keeps the timeless beauty of his poetry fresh. This is also a bilingual edition of Horace, which is an indispensable condition. Harold Bloom concurs that this is the best English translation of Horace's Odes.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful 6 Jan 2006
By Stanley Hauer - Published on Amazon.com
If you love poetry, treat yourself to this spelendid collection. Horace's Latin is too difficult for most of us whose high school education is distant. These translations are never less than readable and often beautiful. This may be a book that reminds us of why Horace has been read and loved for two thousand years.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HORACE LIVES AGAIN AS A CONTEMPORARY POET! 4 Feb 2014
By Daniel B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Horace has always been lauded as one of the touchstone poets of the Western world. He has been well served by a variety of excellent translators over the centuries. My particular favorite is a Penguin paperback publication. The translator, W.G.Shepherd, has maintained the highest standards of accuracy in his translation so the reader is assured of receiving Horace's actual meaning. Since Shepherd is himself a published poet, he is keenly sensitive to language and his translations are highly poetic. These are virtues which many other translations embody. However, J.D.McClatchy's was conceived very differently and so the results are also very different. Unlike the Penguin edition, this one has the Latin original on the left-hand side, so those with training in Latin can make some comparisons or at least examine some of the choices contemporary translators make. My assessment is tentative and perhaps too impulsive, but I would say if you want only accuracy, stay with a book like Shepherd's. However, if you want the experience of great poetry, go with McClatchy's. It will not disappoint you; rather it will exhilarate you, make you feel you have eavesdropped on Horace and experienced with him the creative process.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous collection 11 Sep 2009
By Jasmes C. Blackburn - Published on Amazon.com
This collection of creative translations by some of the best of contempory poets is marvellous. For those of us who are somewhat Latin-challenged, the Latin on facing pages is very helpful.
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