Virgil University of Chicago Press, 2017 Library of Congress PA6807.A5F47 2017 | Dewey Decimal 873.01
“I sing of arms and the man . . . ”
So begins the Aeneid, greatest of Western epic poems. Virgil’s story of the journey of Aeneas has been a part of our cultural heritage for so many centuries that it’s all too easy to lose sight of the poem itself—of its brilliantly cinematic depiction of the sack of Troy; the monstrous hunger of the harpies; the intensity of Dido’s love for the hero, and the blackness of her despair; and the violence that Aeneas and his men must endure before they can settle in Italy and build the civilization whose roots we still claim as our own.
This new translation brings Virgil’s masterpiece newly to life for English-language readers. It’s the first in centuries crafted by a translator who is first and foremost a poet, and it is a glorious thing. David Ferry has long been known as perhaps our greatest contemporary translator of Latin poetry, his translations of Virgil’s Eclogues and Georgics having established themselves as much-admired standards. He brings to the Aeneid the same genius, rendering Virgil’s formal metrical lines into an English that is familiar and alive. Yet in doing so, he surrenders none of the feel of the ancient world that resonates throughout the poem, and gives it the power that has drawn readers to it for centuries. In Ferry’s hands, the Aeneid becomes once more a lively, dramatic poem of daring and adventure, of love and loss, of devotion and death. Never before have Virgil’s twin gifts of poetic language and urgent, compelling storytelling been presented so powerfully for English-language readers. Ferry’s Aeneid will be a landmark, a gift to longtime lovers of Virgil, and the perfect entry point for new readers.
“Aurora rose, spreading her pitying light,
And with it bringing back to sight the labors
Of sad mortality, what men have done,
And what has been done to them; and what they must do
The ships are ready to sail. The journey, from the fall of Troy to the birth of Rome, is about to begin. Join us.
Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Poetry.
To read David Ferry’s Bewilderment is to be reminded that poetry of the highest order can be made by the subtlest of means. The passionate nature and originality of Ferry’s prosodic daring works astonishing transformations that take your breath away. In poem after poem, his diction modulates beautifully between plainspoken high eloquence and colloquial vigor, making his distinctive speech one of the most interesting and ravishing achievements of the past half century. Ferry has fully realized both the potential for vocal expressiveness in his phrasing and the way his phrasing plays against—and with—his genius for metrical variation. His vocal phrasing thus becomes an amazingly flexible instrument of psychological and spiritual inquiry. Most poets write inside a very narrow range of experience and feeling, whether in free or metered verse. But Ferry’s use of meter tends to enhance the colloquial nature of his writing, while giving him access to an immense variety of feeling. Sometimes that feeling is so powerful it’s like witnessing a volcanologist taking measurements in the midst of an eruption.
Ferry’s translations, meanwhile, are amazingly acclimated English poems. Once his voice takes hold of them they are as bred in the bone as all his other work. And the translations in this book are vitally related to the original poems around them.
The day was hot, and entirely breathless, so
The remarkably quiet remarkably steady leaf fall
Seemed as if it had no cause at all.
The ticking sound of falling leaves was like
The ticking sound of gentle rainfall as
They gently fell on leaves already fallen,
Or as, when as they passed them in their falling,
Now and again it happened that one of them touched
One or another leaf as yet not falling,
Still clinging to the idea of being summer:
As if the leaves that were falling, but not the day,
Had read, and understood, the calendar.
Hailed as one of the best contemporary poets writing in the English language, David Ferry meditates unsentimentally, in many of these powerful and often wrenching poems, on the dispossession of people afflicted by madness, homelessness, or other forms of "wildness." The voices in all the poems in this book demonstrate how, for each of us, there is no certain dwelling place.
"David Ferry's Dwelling Places is a marvelous, extremely moving book, distinguished by Ferry's characteristic formal virtuosity, extraordinarily fresh and 'inner' translations, and a kind of driven anguished rage at both the social conditions in which human beings have to live and the mysteriously unchangeable tragedies of individual human lives. The translations amplify and deepen the contemporary scenes. I feel that in the future this will be perceived as a great book."—Frank Bidart
"Not until I had read Dwelling Places several times did I see how ingeniously resourceful, ambitious, and admirably modest a book David Ferry has made."—Boston Review
David Ferry's Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations provides a wonderful gathering of the work of one of the great American poetic voices of the twentieth century. It brings together his new poems and translations, collected here for the first time; his books Strangers and Dwelling Places in their entirety; selections from his first book, On the Way to the Island; and selections from his celebrated translations of the Babylonian epic Gilgamesh, the Odes of Horace, and of Virgil's Eclogues. This is Ferry's fullest and most resonant book, demonstrating the depth and breadth of forty years of a life in poetry.
"Though Ferry is perhaps best known for his eloquent translations of Horace and Virgil, "Of No Country I Know" demonstrates that he deserves acclaim for his own poetry as well."—Carmela Ciuraru, New York Times Book Review
Strangers: A Book of Poems
David Ferry University of Chicago Press, 1983 Library of Congress PS3511.E74S8 1983 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
"David Ferry must have had something up his sleeve when he called his book "Strangers," because his is a poetry of intimacy and familiarity. More than that, Mr. Ferry's short, sparse lyrics are as perfectly and simply composed as Japanese haiku—a rare accomplishment in poetry written in English."—Andy Brumer, New York Times Book Review
"Strangers is a remarkably good book for a reader sufficiently attentive to hear its quiet power, to let it work in its distinctive way."—Boston Globe
"The poems of David Ferry's Strangers are in fact one book, and it is a splendid one. There is the same austere and poignant voice throughout, asking the unanswerable things, speaking of all that is withheld from us, confronting the unknownness that dwells even in the familiar and dear. Painful and touching, the book offers a distinctive vision which is at the same time inescapably true."—Richard Wilbur