Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vergil's Georgics, translated by Cecil Day-Lewis,

Most modern English translations of the Georgics are disappointing, for reasons I won't get into here.  The best one from the last century, imho, is by Cecil Day-Lewis, and was published in 1947.  Day-Lewis was the British Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972; before WWII he was associated with the circle of poets that included W. H. Auden.  Even if you have never heard of him you will probably be familiar with his son Daniel, the actor.

Here is a recording of Day-Lewis reading his translation.  The first passage that he reads comes from book one of the Georgics and describes a series of weather signs - more elaborate variations on the 'Red sky at night/ sailors' delight' strain of folk wisdom.  The second comes from book two, and is a description of the coming of spring.

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