In 2012, David Ferry capped a long career as a poet with a National Book Award, given in honor of his book Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations. But he had no interest in resting on his laurels. In fact, he was in the middle of the most ambitious poetic project of his life. Six years earlier, at age eighty-two, he had embarked on a complete translation of one of the foundational works of Western culture: Virgil’s Aeneid.
Now we have it, and it is a glorious thing. Ferry has long been known as perhaps the foremost 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, devotion and death. Never before have Virgil’s twin gifts of poetic language and fleet 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.