The Translations of Seamus Heaney by Seamus Heaney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: March 21, 2023 [for the reviewed edition]
I’d read Heaney’s approachable yet linguistically elegant translation of Beowulf long ago, and was excited to see this collection of his translations coming out. The one hundred pieces gathered make for a diverse work, from single stanza poems to epic narratives and timed from Ancient Greece through modernity. The pieces include works from well-known poets such as Baudelaire, Cavafy, Dante, Brodsky, Horace, Sophocles, Ovid, Pushkin, Rilke, and Virgil. But most readers will find new loves among the many poets who aren’t as well-known in the English-reading world, including Irish and Old English poets. I was floored by the pieces by Ana Blandiana, a prolific Romanian poet who’s a household name in Bucharest, though not so well-known beyond.
I’d highly recommend this anthology for poetry readers. Besides gorgeous and clever use of language, the power of story wasn’t lost on Heaney and his tellings of Antigone (titled herein as “The Burial at Thebes,) Beowulf, Philoctetes (titled “The Cure at Troy,”) and others are gripping and well-told.
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