The translations - or "conversions" - in this book make available to contemporary readers of English-language poetry a wealth of poems that belong to what T.S. Eliot called "the tradition." From Homer, Sappho, and Archilochus to Catullus, Horace, and Virgil; from Dante, Villon, and Lope de Vega to Baudelaire, Rilke, and Pessoa; this book presents fresh versions of many of the best-loved poems in the Western European tradition in strikingly new versions, allowing readers without access to the originals the opportunity to possess, in some measure, both the sense and style of these monumental works.
Ryan Wilson's first book of poems, The Stranger World - winner of the prestigious Donald Justice Poetry Prize - explored the ways in which human beings may discover themselves in life's unforseen and unpredictable phenomena. That book, described by poet and professor James Matthew Wilson as "a most astonishing debut" and "maybe the best first book by a poet I've ever read," lays the groundwork for Proteus Bound, in which the author's practice of xenia, or "hospitality," welcomes poems from more than a half dozen languages, spanning nearly three millennia, into English.
"From Homer to Pessoa, Ryan Wilson serves up a delicious sampler platter of Western European poetry spanning nearly three milennia. His aesthetic and historic catholicity and his formal mastery are reminiscent of John Frederick Nims..."~Geoffrey Brock
"Did Ryan Wilson wager with himself that he could choose some of the most familiar poems in European literature and bring them so freshly into English that they are new again? If so, he owes himself a ten-spot, for Proteus Bound achieves that goal with seeming nonchalance."~Fred Chappell
"Wilson's choices are always responsible and responsive, as manifested in the elegant music of his versification."~David Ferry
"Nothing renews the tradition more certainly than the attentions that a poet-translator of Wilson's caliber gives to the great poems of the past...This is work that both honors the tradition and shows why we would wish to do such a thing."~Charles Martin
"What a treasure! This invigorating book brings us close to some of the most beautiful lyric poems ever written...As implied by the title, Wilson's method is protean: the translator is one who transforms himself into each of the various authors' projections of self, inhabiting the soul of each persona. As a result, these great poets are still with us, and we are with them."~Grace Schulman
"This anthology...represents a sweeping literary education unto itself."~A.E. Stallings
"What we find in this book, whose earliest poets include Homer and Alcman, and whose most recent are Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Claudel, is a wide vision of the poetic tradition of the West that has shaped the translator’s soul only because it first gave form to an entire civilization. Classical and Christian civilization are summed up in these pages and presented to us as our great, living literary tradition. Wilson’s translations of the classical Latin poets are especially distinguished, as they bring out that distinctly Roman unity of irreverence and passion with austere rhetoric and witty control."~Catholic World Report