Proteus Bound: Selected Translations 2008–2020. Franciscan University Press, 2021. Purchase


From Homer to Pessoa, Ryan Wilson serves up a delicious sampler platter of Western European poetry spanning nearly three millennia. His aesthetic and historic catholicity and his formal mastery are reminiscent of John Frederick Nims, and the volume’s alphabetical (rather than chronological) arrangement creates surprising and delightful juxtapositions (Catullus and Claudel, Sappho and Trakl, etc.), all made new in these finely tuned renderings.
Geoffrey Brock, Editor of The FSG Book of 20th Century Italian Poetry

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.  These translations are respectful but not staid, accurate but not persnickety, renewing but not distorting.  In these pages, even Virgil is fun once more.
Fred Chappell, winner of the Bollingen Prize for Poetry

Ryan Wilson’s translations are characterized by their sensitivity of tone and the musicality of their forms as in, for example, his wonderful version of Catullus’ Carmina III and his version of Horace’s Ode ii.15.  Wilson’s choices are always responsible and responsive, as manifested in the elegant music of his versification.
David Ferry, winner of the National Book Award

Ryan Wilson reminds us in the preface to his new collection that the “it” in Ezra Pound’s dictum, “Make it new,” was the tradition itself. 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.  Proteus Bound is the proof of this, a generous piece of the Permanent Anthology, a selection from other languages and other times brought over into the present as poems in English.  This is work that both honors the tradition and shows why we would wish to do such a thing.
Charles Martin, winner of the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award

What a treasure!  This invigorating book brings us close to some of the most beautiful lyric poems ever written.  Ryan Wilson’s translations are, by turns, muscular and breezy and intense, capturing the intimacy of Horace, the passionate love of Catullus, and the street music of Baudelaire. Wilson is equally at home with the familiar and with the lesser known, with Dante as well as with the courtly love sonnets of La Compiuta Donzella or with the explosive images of Georg Heym.  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, winner of the Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry

This anthology of lyric poems and passages of epic, from antiquity to the 20th century, from Greek, Latin, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, represents a sweeping literary education unto itself.  In the appropriately titled Proteus Bound, Ryan Wilson speaks in tongues, and is spoken through, generously putting his gifts of technical aplomb and a tuneful ear at the service of other poets, across cultures and millennia.
A.E. Stallings, winner of the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant and Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

One feels a lifetime of poetic art bound between the covers of this book.  Both Ryan Wilson’s lifetime—years of dedicated, disciplined, and devoted skill went into making this varying music for so many different voices—and the larger lifetime of the poetry of the West, the Classical tradition from Homer, Alcman, and Sappho to Trakl and Georg Heym.  The elegance of Wilson’s verse is breathtaking: Horatian, really—alacrity, subtlety, wit, naturalness.  This book is a civilization.  May it enlighten and delight many.
Rosanna Warren, former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets