From Publishers Weekly
English translators of Virgil traditionally prize what they call "accuracy" over preserving the text's elegance and readability. Ferry, an American poet and translator (his 1997 rendering of Horace's Odes garnered critical acclaim), comes very close to the best of both worlds: his complete, bilingual edition captures the verbal texture of the original while retaining its deliberately archaic feel, sensitivity and wit, surpassing his recent predecessors (such as Paul Alpers and Guy Lee) in polish and faithfulness. Ferry's rhythmic, easeful prosody has much of the original Virgilian balance and regularityA "But the time has come to close the sluices, boys,/ For now the fields have drunk their fill of song." Not restricted to the usual line-for-line format, Ferry sometimes will expand one line into two while retaining the original's feeling of compactness. Perhaps readers will be most grateful for his rendering of the famous Eclogue IV, with its messianic tone and ceremonial grandeur: "The last great age the Sybil told has come;/ The new order of centuries is born;/ The Virgin now returns, and the reign of Saturn;/ The new generation now comes down from heaven." An admirer of peacemakers in faction-torn Augustan Rome, Virgil's encoding of contemporary events has special resonance today: "we must leave our native place, our homes,/ The fields we love, and go elsewhere"; "For strangers, for others, we have farmed our land." If his mournful shepherd's queryA"what can music do/ Against the weapons of soldiers?"Astill goes unanswered, it takes a masterful literary translation, looking toward the scale of renderings by Dryden, Valery and C. Day Lewis, to keep the classic fresh in our minds. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
The Eclogues of Virgil is a new translation of the first great work by the greatest of all Latin poets, nicely organized in a facing-page edition that preserves the sonorous Latin of the original opposite Ferrys fluid and careful English rendering. Long considered the father of pastoral verse, Virgil in fact learned the technique from his master, Theocritus, but it was his Eclogues that became the standard against which all pastoral poets were measured for centuries to come. In his introduction, Ferry provides a concise appreciation of the role of the pastoral in the poetic imagination: In these pastoral situations our faults and virtues are written large; the pastoral structure simplifies what we all share . . . while at the same time demonstrating how vulnerable we are. A city-dwellers hymn to the country, the pastoral is really a consideration of mans role in the world at large, and in Virgils case it marks the dawn of a new self-consciousness in literature. Although theres a certain flatness to Ferrys translation (Let them light up the torches, Mopsus, they / Are bringing you your bride. The Evening Star / Is rising for you now from behind the mountain) that runs roughshod over the original cadences, for the most part this is a worthy and welcome effort. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.