Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Virgil and Horace

Before and after reading the Aeneid at the beach, I read David Ferry's translations of the Odes of Horace. Just as the Aeneid made me notice differences between Virgil and Homer, I noticed one significant difference between Virgil and Horace: while the Aeneid is splendid, I am more a Horatian than a Virgilian. The Odes are closer to me than Horace's friend's epic. Perhaps it's just that the Odes are closer to the dominant mode of contemporary poetry (lyricism) than the Aeneid is (even if I love verse novels).

(And isn't it fascinating how great poets so often come in pairs who knew each other well? Virgil and Horace, Goethe and Schiller, Eliot and Pound, etc.)

3 comments:

Dave King said...

I agree with you about poets coming in pairs. Something that has often made me wonder.

Jarod K. Anderson said...

It's hard to write good poetry in a vaccum. I think a little peer pressure can be a good thing.

Andrew Shields said...

Perhaps it's like the Stones and the Beatles, each group trying to do outdo the other. Or the Impressionists painting beside each other. (A comparison made originally by Alex Ross, I think, in the New Yorker.)

Jarod, the first thing I thought on reading your comment was that it is VERY hard to write poetry in a vacuum, since it's hard to write poetry when you can't breathe! But perhaps that only furthers the metaphor, as other poets are part of a poet's "air."