Our Horace

David Ferry has been my friend and colleague in the arts for nearly 60 years. Already an admired poet when we first met, he changed the game with his translation of Gilgamesh, which suddenly brought this ancient “classic” to vivid and immediate life. Just as his own poems were growing even deeper and more ambitious, both more intimate and broader-ranging. Heartbreaking poems truly tragic in stature—poems of love and deep loss, community and friendship. He was not only translating Horace, he was becoming our Horace. And like Horace, David also has an irrepressible, sometimes wicked sense of humor, as when, at the age of 88, he accepted the National Book Award for his extraordinary Bewilderment by calling it a “pre-posthumous” award. Perhaps a little early, since five years later, he completed and published his astonishing, heroic translation of The Aeneid.