See West’s Notes at: West, D. Horace Odes I Carpe Diem: Text, Translation and Commentary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1995) pp.112-115
My version pays homage to a wonderful contemporary and much loved poet, Michael Donaghy who died tragically young. In my poem too, there is another man to consider, namely Simon Armitage, another good contemporary poet who wrote a homage poem to Michael, Patent, and was obviously grieving his death.
Just as Horace points out to Virgil that nothing can be done to bring Quintilius back, my poem addresses the idea that we can do nothing to bring Michael back, not even Michael with his magical voice and charm could conjure his way back (and here I play on the title of one of Michael’s collections, Conjure) At the same time, just as Horace addresses Virgil through one of his own texts, my poem addresses Simon Armitage by referring to his own text, Patent, pointing out that even were he to be able to invent an everlasting lightbulb that would outshine the sun, this would not fill the huge Jupiter shaped gap left by Michael. (Here I intend to convey Michael’s similarity with Jupiter as the God of light)
I pick up on Melpomene who strictly speaking is the Muse of lyric but later became the Muse of Tragedy and I try to achieve a pithy, gnomic ending as Horace does, by pointing out that Michael worked into the night (according to Armitage) and if we do the same, might we be able to accept and shed light on death via Michael and thus make him live on.
I have tried to recreate the form of Yeats’ poem Presences