Sharply intelligent and sublimely learned Rachel Hadas, one of our most distinguished poets and translators, frames all but one of the Poems for Camilla with epigraphs from Virgil’s Aeneid. Tenderly, cleverly, fiercely, she writes these poems for a newborn granddaughter, juxtaposing an epic tale of a warrior with a girl’s life just begun. For Hadas, the contemporary skyline sits on a classical horizon, and the birth of a child reverberates both with the ancient world and the political shocks of the 21st century. A baby becomes a hero, a hero a kind of child, the ancient wanderer a modern migrant. In classical cadences with casual but expert rhymes, Hadas slings the centuries across her shoulder, tackling timeless questions, “Where do we go when we die?”, and attempting to understand “the zany disproportion/between grief and consolation.” With a skill and fortitude uniquely her own, Hadas is at her brilliant best.
— Molly Peacock
At a moment when ignorance, stupidity, and a dogged refusal to learn from the past are rampant, how salutary to read a very contemporary poet in dialogue with Virgil about such timeless and pertinent issues as war, continuity, guilt, grief and consolation.
— Marilyn Hacker
“Three generations,/all of them voyagers through space and time,” writes Rachel Hadas, and you feel the spirit of those lines alive in these verses that bridge the poet, her young granddaughter and — somewhere alive in the lightning of the ever-present motifs of the Aeneid and Virgil’s Latin — the poet’s father, the great classicist Moses Hadas. Three generations as well are grandparent, parents and granddaughter; and the contemporary world, the poet, and Virgil’s world; and on. Camilla is a gift, less a portrait than a kaleidoscope. It glistens with the complex lessons we rarely take to heart immediately, but embrace in time.
— Rowan Ricardo Phillips