This article discusses Seamus Heaney’s 2016 translation of Virgil’s Aeneid Book 6. It begins by reflecting on the importance of Virgil, the underworld journey narrative, and Heaney’s poetics in general. It then argues that Heaney develops a counterpoint of five- and six-beat lines to draw the traditional rhythm of English blank verse into uneasy relation with the sound of classical epic (traditionally composed in dactylic hexameter). Concomitant with this rhythmic counterpoint is a contrast of voices in the translation, varying between a hard-edged, consonantal “Anglo-Saxon” sound and the translucent, aerial voice of a dream vision. The article concludes with a consideration of the different interpretative possibilities opened up by this juxtaposition of rhythm and sound in Heaney’s translation of Virgil’s katabatic narrative.
Rachel Falconer; The Music of Heaney’s Aeneid VI. Comparative Literature 1 December 2017; 69 (4): 430–448. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-4260445
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