"It takes real poetic skill to parody a master so subtly that the result becomes mistaken for the poetry of the master himself at play. And now, in A. E. Stallings translation of the Batrachomyomachia, we have what seems a comparably ambitious and convincing re-creation of that ancient recreation. Stallings is both a trained classicist and a well-regarded poet in English. And she is especially well regarded for her seemingly natural command of meter and rhyme — a command that’s uncommon in our era. Her rhymed couplets are the product of an innately sensitive ear . . . The main section presents the poem interwoven on every page with Silverstein’s pencil drawings — of frogs and mice and weasels and hawks and snakes and gods with human faces. At first, I thought of the illustration as maybe somewhat analogous to medieval illumination. But as I read on, I realized it wasn’t that at all. There’s too much drama in the drawings’ visual punctuation. I instead came to appreciate their larger role as visual harmonics — a substitute for a lyre, of sorts, accompanying the combined voices of bard and translator. They are an integral part of the success of this small volume, which I am very glad to have read."
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