Seamus Heaney's Aeneid Book Vi


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Seamus Heaney was working on a translation of book VI of Virgil's Aeneid in the last months of his life .

Ian McKellen reads the poet's posthumously published final work in which Aeneas travels into the underworld to meet the spirit of his father. It's a story that had captivated Seamus Heaney from his schooldays. But the work took on a special significance for him after the death of his own father, becoming a touchstone to which he would return as an adult. His noble and moving translation of Book VI bears the fruit of a lifetime's concentration upon it: he began translating passages in the 1980s, and was finalising the work right up to the summer of his death.

Given the themes of the posthumously released Book VI, there is added poignancy in this final gift to his readers - a work which marks the end of Heaney's poetic journey.

Then as her fit passed away and her raving went quiet,

Heroic Aeneas began: 'No ordeal, O Sibyl, no new

Test can dismay me, for I have foreseen

And foresuffered all. But one thing I pray for

Especially: since here the gate opens, they say,

To the King of the Underworld's realms, and here

In these shadowy marshes the Acheron floods

To the surface, vouchsafe me one look,

One face-to-face meeting with my dear father.

Ian McKellen reads Seamus Heaney's newly published translation of Virgil's Aeneid Book VI.