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And they changed their lives and departed,
and came back as the leaves of the trees Come back and increase in the summer :
and I, I, I am of these ; And I know of them that have fashioned,
and the deeds that have blossomed and
grow; But nought of the Gols' repentance, or the
Gods' undoing I know.”
is better to have such lines than to write English like, “ Lioness chases the wolf, wolf follows the
goat in her flight, Frolicking she-goat roves to the cytisus flower to be fed."
Enough I suffer of wrong, Home who have once seen plundered, sur
vived Troy, foes in her heart.” “ Tyrians too this festival night to the palace
repair, Places found them on couches with bright
embroidery fair, Gaze on the Trojan gifts, on the boy Iulus'
eyes.” This is a grammatical extravagance which may seem slight in a single instance; but the way in which it
on every page jars on the reader's nerves at last, as does the perpetual and wearisome enjambement which makes one line end with a weak epithet in order to get the substantive at the beginning of the next.
The former of these is the verse which Sir Charles Bowen has chosen for his translation; but with a view of making it like the Latin hexameter he has forbidden himself the use of unaccented opening syllables, and (except when Nature has been too strong for him) makes the line begin uniformly on a stressed syllable so as to give the apparent effect of a falling rhythm.
Against this treatment the English language revolts. The simplest measure of the disastrous difficulties in which it involves the writer is that it makes it impossible to begin a line with an unstressed monosyllable, with any word like “the," "of,” or “and.” Sir Charles Bowen has employed extreme dexterity in avoiding them. But in spite of all imaginable dexterity it becomes every now and then necessary either to let the metre break down, or to keep it up at the expense of awkward ellipses and asyndeta. Lines like,
“ Or when silver or marble is set in the yellow
of gold May our children for ever preserve its me
mory bright "“ Till our way to the hillock and ancient
shrine we had wrought
“ Facing the porch, on the threshold itself,
stands Pyrrhus in bright Triumph, with glittering weapons, a flashing
mirror of light.” Tramples on law divine, Polydorus slays,
and with bold
Ibi omnis effusus labor : against such inherent vice of metre the brilliant merits of this translation contend fruitlessly.
It is hardly possible to determine theoretically what form of English verse is most suited for translating Virgil : the best will no doubt be that in which the best translation is made. But it is possible to state certain general principles. No form of verse which is not of the first rank, which has not been carried by skill and practice somewhere near perfection, can ever hope to convey anything of Virgil's great distinction of mas. tery, of the perfect smoothness, the jewel-finish of his workmanship. And (dactylic verse in English being out of the question) no metre but an iambic one can hope to reproduce his stateliness and equability of move
have only five stresses, not six : lines like,
“ When I beheld their serried ranks, their
martial fire'“ Thine own shadle, my sire, thine own dis
consolate shade “ Lest thy bark, of her rudder bereft, and
her helmsman lost, Might be unequal to combat the wild seas
round her that tossed ”
have no definite rhythm at all ; yet it
ment. These long smooth anapæstics probably shows the utmost that can are before all things rapid. Now be done with that stanza. Virgil can be rapid when he chooses ; tation may be given from it (Æn, but rapidity is the last word that one iv. 420-434), would think of applying to the typical Virgilian line. Aristotle calls the Yet try for me this once ; for only thee Homeric hexameter, “the stateliest
That perjured soul adores, to thee will
show of verses." In Latin hands it ac
His secret thoughts: thou, when his seaquired a still greater stateliness, a more weighty and majestic movement; And where the man's accessible, dost and with Virgil it is beyond all rivalry, know. “the stateliest measure ever moulded
Go, sister, meekly speak to the proud by the lips of man.” It is worth I was not with the Greeks at Aulis observing that, in the poem where these words occur, Lord Tennyson has
To raze the Trojan name, nor did I go seized its quality with extraordinary
'Gainst Ilium with my fleet, neither have
torn art, by using an immensely long line
Anchises' ashes up from his profaned urn. where the insertion of a full foot in place of a cæsura makes the verse fall Why is he deaf to my entreaties? whither apartin a surge and recoil like that of the
So fast? It is a lover's last desire
That he would but forsake me in fair hexameter itself. Against the English
weather, hexameter properly so called the case And a safe time. I do not now aspire has long ago gone by default. The To his broke wedlock-vow, neither require fact that an English sentence may
He should fair Latium and a sceptre leave :
Poor time I beg, my passions to retire, naturally fall into hexameter-rhythm (as
Truce to my woe ; nor pardon, but rein “How art thou fallen from heaven,
prieve, O Lucifer, son of the morning!") proves Till griefs, familiar grown, have taught me nothing, “for it is also likely that
how to grieve. many unlikely things should happen." Nor does it prove much more that
A verse that can be so handled, that there are a few Elizabethan hexame can keep balance and dignity while ters of great beauty, or that in the following with extraordinary closeness hands of an eminent master of lan the structure and diction of the Latin, guage it is even now possible, as Mr.
cannot be dismissed lightly. But any Arnold has proved in his Lectures on stanza-verse is under heavy disadvanTranslating Homer, to render a short tages as compared with a verse which passage into lines which shall have is continuous. It is in blank verse, something of the force and dignity of
and in it only, that the greatest the original. It remains true, after rhythmical effects in English have all is said, that a metre depending on
been attained; but who can write quantity and cæsura for its very es
blank verse -hardly three men in a sence is not natural in a language century. A long passage from the which possesses neither. Sir Richard eighth Æneid rendered into admirable Fanshawe's noble translation of the blank verse by Cowper stands as yet fourth Æneid into Spenserian verse
almost alone. Next to it, in the tech
nical perfection to which it has been Perhaps the most graceful ever written carried, comes the decasyllabic couplet; are those of Greene.
and in this it is possible that the last
word will be said. Stateliness and “Days in grief and nights consumed to think on a goddess,
sweetness, Virgil's two great qualities, Broken sleeps, sweet dreams but short from it is capable of to any degree; nor is the night to the morning."
there any other metre which admits Nothing could be better than this ; but it is such variety of treatment. From the only a tour de force after all.
pastoral couplet of Browne to the
heroic couplet of Dryden it covers as “ Hippolochus survived ; from him I camo great a range as the Latin hexameter. The honoured author of my birth and
name; In the hands of Keats it reached a
By his decree I sought the Trojan town, subtlety and complexity of harmony By his instructions learn to win renown, comparable to that of Virgil in his To stand the first in worth as in command, earlier work. “Lamia leaves on my
To add new honours to my native land, ear,” says Mr. F. T. Palgrave, “an
Before my cyes my mighty sires to place,
And emulate the glories of our race." echo like the delicate richness of Virgil's hexameter in the Eclogues :
“We then explained the cause on which w6 the note of his magical inner sweet Urged you to arms, and found you fierce for ness is, in some degree, reached upon fame. different instrument"; and Mr.
Your ancient fathers generous precepts Frederic Myers, whose fragments of
gave, Virgilian translation are only disap
Peleus said only this — My son, be brave.' » pointing from their scantiness, has It is not necessary to determine hown how it may be adapted to a
which of these is the better translaperiodic structure with something ap tion, the two couplets or the two proaching the fluidity of blank verse words. The important point is, that itself. There is some advantage, in deal both the gorgeous rhetorical ampliing with Virgil, of getting a line which fication of the one and the concenshall more or less correspond in length trated brevity of the other give just to his; and with the heroic couplet it that lifting of the heart which the is true that one line of the English is, single line of Homer gives with the as a rule, too little for one line of the incomparable Homeric simplicity. Or, Latin, and two are too much. But to return to Virgil : stateliness and the disadvantage is more apparent
sweetness are his unfailing qualities, than real. It is not on his single the qualities in which he excels all lines that Virgil depends : it is on his other poets: a translation which should single phrases, his “lonely words.” keep these qualities need not trouble Vobis parta quies-absens absentem itself much about lesser matters. The auditque videtque-nihil o tibi amice standard of accuracy required has relictum-dulces moriens reminiscitur risen, of its own accord as it were, Argos : it is in such phrases as these, to such a point that it can take care full of strange depths of music, of of itself. Conington's translation in half-tones and melancholy cadences, this respect set a standard for all the rather than in the great rhetorical future. No one would tolerate now, single lines, that the peculiar charm for the sake of any vigour or dignity, of Virgil lies.
such swinging carelessness, such schoolNor is that translation necessarily boy scholarship as Dryden's; but just the best which keeps most to the out for that reason, we are safe against ward form of the original. If the any one making the attempt on so office of a poetical translation be to slender a base of knowledge, or with reproduce that effect on the reader such contempt for the outward form of which the original has produced on Virgil, as Dryden did. Mr. Morris, the translator, a hundred influences who alone has given the Virgilian must intervene, and the effect come sweetness, as Dryden alone has given through strange channels of associa the Virgilian stateliness, keeps as tion. Take the great line twice spoken closely to the original as Conington in the Iliad, once by Glaucus in the himself; and now Sir Charles Bowen sixth book, once by Nestor in the has shown that even greater accuracy eleventh, αιέν αριστεύειν και υπείροχον in this respect is possible. But to proέμμεναι άλλων-how does Pope deal duce a translation which should hold with it? Here are the two passages the field, not only the standard of from his translation,
accuracy set by modern scholarship,
but also the standard of stateliness set But that same bidding of the Gods, whereby
e'en now I wend by Dryden and the standard of sweet
Through dark, through deserts rusty-rough, ness set by Mr. Morris, have become
through night without an end, essential for all the future. Two ex Drave me with doom. Nor held my heart amples will illustrate this. The first in anywise belief is Dryden's, the second Mr. Morris's That my departure from thy land might
work ihee such a grief. translation of Æneid vi. 450-466,
O stay thy feet ! nor tear thyself from my “Not far from these, Phoenician Dido stood,
beholding thus. Fresh from her wound, her bosom bathed in
Whom fleest thou ? this word is all that Fate
shall give to us.'” Whom when the Trojan hero hardly knew,
Sir Charles Bowen translates the Obscure in shades, and with a doubtful view,
same passage thus : Doubtful as he who sees, through dusky
“ Fresh from her death-wound still, here night,
Dido, the others among, Or thinks he sees, the moon's uncertain
Roamed in a spacious wood. Through light,
shadow the chieftain soon With tears he first approached the sullen
Dimly discerned her face, as a man, when
the month is but young, And, as his love inspired him, thus he said :
Sees, or believes he has seen, amid cloudlets
shining, the moon. "Unhappy queen! then is the common
Tears in his eyes, he addressed her with breath
tender love as of old : Of rumour true, in your reported death,
· True then, sorrowful Dido, the inessenger And I, alas ! the cause ?-By heaven I
fires that told vow,
Thy sad death, and the doom thou soughtest And all tbe powers that rule the realms
of choice by thy hand ! below,
Was it, alas ! to a gravo that I did thee! Unwilling I forsook your friendly state,
Now by the bright Commanded by the gods, and forced by
Stars, by the Gods, and the faith that abides Fate,
in realms of the Night, Those gods, that Fate, whose unresisted
'Twas unwillingly, lady, I bade farewell to might Has sent me to these regions void of light,
Yet, the behest of Immortals, - the same Through the vast empire of eternal night.
which bids me to go Nor dared I to presume that, pressed with
Through these shadows, the wilderness mire grief,
and the darkness below,My flight should urge you through this dire
Drove me imperiously thence, nor possessed relief.
I power to believe Stay, stay your steps, and listen to my
I at departing had left thee in grief thus vows!
bitter to grieve. 'Tis the last interview that Fate allows !''
Tarry, and turn not away from a face that "Midst whom Phoenician Dido now, fresh
on thine would dwell; from the iron bane,
'Tis thy lover thou fliest, and this is our Went wandering in that mighty wood : and
last farewell !'" when the Trojan man First dimly knew her standing by amid the
Certainly one cannot borrow the glimmer wan
famous formula and say that Sir Charles E'en as in earliest of the month one sees the Bowen's translation would be better if moon arise,
he had taken more pains. The more one Or seems to see her at the least in cloudy
studies it, the more is one impressed drift of skiesHe spake, and let the tears fall down by all
by the delicate and unwearying labour love's sweetness stirred :
that has been spent upon it, by his fine Unhappy Dido, was true, that bitter
and conscientious scholarship, by the following word,
persistency with which he has striven That thou wert dead, by sword hadst sought the utter end of all ?
to give Virgil's very turns of expression. Was it thy very death I wrought? Ah! on In one matter indeed he has allowed the stars I call,
himself an unfortunate laxity. For I call the Gods and whatso faith the nether
Virgil, more than for most poetry, the earth may hold, To witness that against my will I left thy metre, whichever be chosen, should be field and fold !
adhered to with rigorous accuracy.
Yet if any
Sir Charles Bowen has started on a This is grotesque, and Virgil is never basis of rhymed couplets, but in his grotesque. And alongside of this is arrangement of rhymes he uses the other fact, which must always be treme licence. Triplets, quatrains, the despair of a translator, that Virgil various combinations of five, of six, had a greater power than any other and even of seven-lined stanzas, break poet ever has had of saturating his into the couplet-system so freely that language with second meanings, as some one is never sure what rhyme is to precious stones are full of under-lights. come next. Systems of irregularly A translator has often to make his grouped rhymes may be employed with choice between leaving these out alexquisite effect in lyrical poetry; and together or dragging them to the indeed in the Eclogues, where (as in surface; in either case the magic is the songs of Theocritus) there is always
" All but the grieving queen;" something of a lyrical note, he often how much too little for the splendid uses them with great beauty. But in and sombre cadence of the At non infelix an epic it is another matter. Thus in animi Phoenissa! “Such is the bees' Æneid vi. 637-665, the thirty lines sweet fever in summer's
earliest of his translation are made up as prime;" how much too much for the follows: a stanza of five lines, a two simple words, fervet opus, of the couplet, a quatrain, a couplet, a Latin! Yet Sir Charles Bowen has often quatrain, a stanza of seven lines, a caught the golden mean, nay eren the couplet, a quatrain. Mr. Swinburne's golden cadence : recent freak of writing a whole scene
Hesper from Oeta's summit for thee sails of a tragedy in sonnets l is hardly into the night”: more violent than this. adverse criticism be allowable, it is
the feeling of the “lonely word " in rather over-elaboration, never careless
tibi deserit Hesperus Etam could not
Or ness, that must be laid to his charge ;
be more admirably rendered. as though he had occasionally forgot again, , ten, in his minute study of the language, "Maenalus ever has forests that sing to him ; that Virgil is in the first place a poet,
ever a sigh and that “ the facility and golden ca
Speaks in his pines,”are the first qualities at which a translator must aim.
Memory even of this may be joy in the Virgil's security of workmanship was so great that he could say anything :
or a passage where the liquid flow of by a strange magic the commonest
the Latin is given with great beauty, words, the most prosaic expressions, (Æn. iv. 522-527) became poetical from the mere fact that he used them. But it does not
“ Now was the night.
Tired limbs upon follow that a translator may say any
earth were folded to sleep,
Silent the forests and fierce sea-waves; in thing.
the firmament deep " Anon each mariner brave
Midway rolled heaven's stars ; no sound on Bakes in the fire, then crushes, his barley the meadows stirred ; snatched from the wave.
Every beast of the field, each bright-hued
feathery bird Virgil, hordea qui dixit, might speak
Haunting the limpid lakes, or the taugled (though he does not) of snatching briary glade, barley: a translator does so at his own
Under the silent night in sleep were peace
fully laid.” peril. " Second in order of honour the brave who
Such lines as these almost make one sundered her chains,
believe in the possibility of the metre. He who spitted the pole with his feathered reed is the last."
To us, as to all the world since Locrine, Act i. sc, 2.
Virgil's time, Latin poetry means what
dence of poesy