Seamus Heaney was a Latin scholar with a keen respect for and knowledge of the works of Horace.
I have translated below the ode from Book 3, of the Odes of Horace ‘Exegi Monumentum’ (No. 30), and find, in its words, an apt description of the perennial appeal that lies in store for the poetry of Seamus Heaney as well as the fame that works of Horace continue to enjoy.
Is it a fitting epitaph to the memory of Seamus Heaney?
A few lines have been omitted from the translation because they were irrelevant.
EXEGI MONUMENTUM … Horace Odes Bk. 3 No. 30
I have built a monument
More lasting than bronze
And loftier than the regal peak
Of a Pharaoh’s pyramid,
I have erected a memorial,
Which neither lashing rains,
Nor violent North winds can erase,
Nor the fleeting sequence of countless generations destroy;
I shall not altogether die
A great part of me shall cheat
The goddess of death, Libitina [. . .]
As long as the High Priest, with vestal silence,
Climbs the steps of the Capitol
My fame shall survive with posterity’s praise [ . . .]
I shall be spoken of as one who,
From humble beginnings [. .]
Pioneered the adaptation of Greek verse to Latin rhythms.
Seán Mc Cool, Carrick, Derrybeg, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.