Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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Henry Reed Henry Reed
Henry Reed, ca. 1960



I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
Dusty Answer: Young, privileged, earnest Judith falls in love with the family next door.
The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.




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Ad Pyrrham

It is always encouraging to find someone who has an odder pastime than yourself. Often, it's uncomfortable when I finally have to break down and tell certain people what I'm working on—that I collect old book reviews written in the 1940s, and that one side of my living room is lined with shelves of photocopies stuffed into manila envelopes. And then I come across Ronald Storrs. From a book review for Storrs' posthumously published Ad Pyrrham: A Polyglot Collection of Translations of Horace's Ode to Pyrrha (1959):

For many years before his death in 1955 the diplomatist and statesman Sir Ronald Storrs made an avocation of collecting 50 translations of Horace's Pyrrha ode (Carm. 1.5). His collection, which by 1955 comprised several hundred versions, has since, under the supervision of Sir Charles Tennyson, increased to four hundred and sixty-three. From these Sir Charles has chosen for the present volume sixty-three English translations, twenty French ones, fifteen Spanish, thirteen German, twelve Italian, and twenty-one in other languages, including a Turkish prose version, several in various Slavic and Scandinavian tongues, a distressing Latin rewriting by a seventeenth-century German professor extolling his own connubial felicity, and (to the reviewer) impenetrable renditions into Maltese, Hebrew, Lettish, Hungarian, Finnish, and Welsh.

That, my friends, is what I call a collector. The text contains a total of 144 versions of Horace's famous poem (six of which are from Latin into Latin), from 25 different languages.

Book cover

Ode to Pyrrha
What slender youth bedewed with liquid odours
Courts thee on roses in some pleasant cave,
   Pyrrha? For whom bind'st thou
   In wreaths thy golden hair,
Plain in thy neatness? O how oft shall he
On faith and changèd gods complain: and seas
   Rough with black winds and storms
   Unwonted shall admire:
Who now enjoys thee credulous, all gold,
Who always vacant always amiable
   Hopes thee; of flattering gales
   Unmindful? Hapless they
To whom thou untried seem'st fair. Me in my vowed
Picture the sacred wall declares t' have hung
   My dank and dropping weeds
   To the stern god of the sea.
Translated by John Milton
Not only is Storrs' book uniquely singular in scope, but is of interest to our particular endeavor, as well. In what I believe is a preface written by Charles Tennyson, Storrs' editor, we find the following mention:

The French and German versions have been chosen by Mr. Richard Graves, a lifelong friend of Sir Ronald's, who is himself a distinguished translator, and Mr. Henry Reed has very kindly chosen the examples in Italian.

Reed, I need not remind you, went to university on a Latin scholarship, and is famous for twisting the words of Horace (Carm. 3.26) for the epigram to "Naming of Parts." I'll be adding Ad Pyrrham to my shortlist of items to track down at the nearest library, at which time I promise to post an updated photograph of my living room.

«  Horace Poetry  0  »

1530. Radio Times. Billing for "The Book of My Childhood." 19 January 1951, 32.
Scheduled on BBC Midland from 8:15-8:30, an autobiographical(?) programme from Henry Reed.

1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)



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