SESTINA FOR A FAR-OFF SUMMER by Richmond Lattimore


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Richmond Lattimore is a poet of reason; cool, clever and compact, he has the virtues of the classicist, both by training (his translations of Homer and Horace are notable) and temperament (his sensibility is one of restraint, his view of the world, retrospective). Most of the poems collected here, (the output covers the last 5 years), are occasional pieces; indeed more than half have already appeared in magazines. The themes and techniques vary; almost all prove impersonal, indirection rather than immediacy serving as the poet's stance. The lyric with mythic allusions (Hippolytus, Aphrodite), descriptive metaphors out of nature (crabs, spiders, doves), a few sustained meditations on outright subjects such as the Nativity or the American scene by night, and a superb series of place names (Castell, Verona, Andritsaina, Chillicothe etc.,)- these sum up the score. The lattimore line is both conversational and courtly, full of a relaxed elegance, a sort of spartan serenity, shaded, at times, with a subtlety and manly sophistication reminiscent of, in a way, Reed Whittemore or Robert Fitzgerald. A satisfying performance.

Publisher: University of Michigan