Realms of Light
Denman, Peter (2004) Realms of Light. .
Cecil Day Lewis, publishing a translation of the Georgics in 1940, remarked that 'every classical poem worth translating should be translated afresh every fifty years.' On this reckoning Peter Fallon's version is only a little overdue. The Georgics are less imprinted on our poetic consciousness than the Aeneid. The latter has the thrust of narrative and the ballast of epic convention to maintain its momentum; the Georgics, on the other hand, are a celebration of efficient land management - a sort of poetic agricultural manual. Over nearly 2,200 lines, issues such as soil management, irrigation, crop roration and animal husbandry are discussed against the background of a natural world caught between the ongoing human endeavour to improve the land on our side and the interventions of the gods on the other. Peter Fallon offers us a full and unabashed translation that maintains the classical apparatus of myth and the invocations to Maecenas and Caesar. It all works remarkably well; the ostensibly unlikely material furnishes the modern age with a basis for a sideways meditation on eco-systems and for a full-on celebration of plenty that is a sort of verbal harvest festival.
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