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there, as no buman hand ever drew them. And so, in a fine translation, the thought survives. One method gives us one element, another method some fresh element, and together we may get some real impression of the mighty whole.
Now, when some of us may have partly lost touch of the original, and some may never have acquired it, the use of translations, especially the use of varied translations, may give us much. In the very front rank come, for verse, Morshead's Trilogy of Æschylus, and his Edipus the King of Sophocles, Mr. Philip Worsley's Odyssey, Lord Derby's Iliad, Frere's Aristophanes, the Greek Lyrics of Milman, and Fitzgerald's Calderon. These are all readable as poems in themselves; but they hardly come up to the typical examples of translations—translations of a poet by a poet-such as Shelley's Fragments, and Coleridge's Wallenstein. It is greatly to be deplored that Coleridge did not act on Shelley's suggestion and translate Faust. They who conscientiously struggle through Hayward, Sir Theodore Martin, Miss Swanwick, Bayard Taylor, and the rest, would have been grateful to see Faust, in the language of Wallenstein, Kubla Khan, and Christabel. But there is only one of the translators of our day whom we can read without the continual sense that we are reading a translation. Edward Fitzgerald's translations alone read as if they were original compositions ; but the question forever recurs, Are they translations at all ?
For prose we can hardly have anything better than the Homer by Mr. Andrew Lang, Professor Butcher, E. Myers, and Walter Leaf; Mr. Lang's Theocritus; Mr. Myers' Pindar; Mr. Conington's prose Virgil; Munro's Lucretius; the Inferno, by John Carlyle; Dante, by Lamennais ; the Cid, by Damas Hinard. Each of these, in its own way, gives us almost as much as translation ever can give. The prose translator naturally fails to give us music, movement, form; but he gives us the substantial thought with almost complete fulness. The verse translation, in the hands of a poet, if it somewhat miss the thought, recalls to us some echoes of the lilt of the
poem. Put the two together, use them as helps alternately, and much of the real comes forth to us. Take the prose Iliad of Leaf, Lang, and E. Myers, and then with that listen to the music of old Chapman, and the martial ring of some battle-piece in Pope or Lord Derby, and something more than an echo of Homer is ours.
Or, what is better still, take the prose Odyssey of Butcher and Lang, and therewith read the exquisite verse of Philip Worsley and some of the quiet pieces of Cowper, and then with the designs of Flaxman and the local color of Wordsworth's Greece, and Mahaffy and Symonds, the imagination can restore us a vision of the Ithacan tale. The Inferno of John Carlyle has an even greater advantage; for the Biblical style, by association, suggests the music and pathos of the poetry, and that without the affectation which attends all reproductions of Biblical phraseology. He has been well imitated by A. J. Butler in the Purgatory. The archaic French of Lamennais' version has much the same effect. These with Cary, and the beautiful book of Dean Church, ought to enable us to get at the sense and something of the form of the Divine Comedy.
With all this wealth of translation, we have such elaborate general works on the history of ancient literature as those of K. 0. Muller, Mure, and Simcox; and the fine studies of Greek and Latin poets by J. A. Symonds, F. Myers, Professors Munro, Robinson Ellis, Conington, and Sellar, and by Mr. Gladstone and Matthew
Arnold. With all this abundance of critical resource, one who knows anything of Latin and Greek can learn to enjoy his ancient poets; and even one who knows nothing can gain some idea of their genius.
What Homer is to Greece, the early national epics and myths of other countries are to them; far inferior to the Greek in beauty, of less perennial value, but the true germ of the literature of each. Yet to the bulk of readers this fountainhead of all poetry lies in a region unexplored, as unknown as to our fathers were the sources of the Nile-fontium qui celat origines. The early poetry of India, with its wonderful mythology, rich as it is for its own poetic worth, opens to us more of the old Oriental mind than many a history. Sir William Jones, who first made this poetry accessible to Europe, was, in the intellectual world, the Columbus who joined two continents. Since his day the labors of Professors Wilson, Max Müller, and Monier Williams have opened to us a new region of poetry, united two twin brethren who have long lived estranged. Such a book as the Arabian Nights we are too apt to look on as a story-book, even perhaps a story book for children. It is not so. Read between the lines, it presents to us the mind and civilization of Islam, the civil side of that of which the Koran is the religious.
There is the same epical embodiment of the national genius in our early European poetry. The fierce Tenton and Norse races have each left us their own myths, of which this century alone has recognized the wild and tragic power, and has, in so many forms, now opened to the modern reader. The highest note of the barbaric drama is reached in the Nibelungen-Lied—the Thyestean tragedy of the North-which, but for the excessive appeal to horror in its weird imagery, might take its place with the great epics of the world. Nay, that last terrific scene in the Hall of Etzel rests forever on the memory as hardly inferior to that other supreme hour of vengeance, when the rags fall from off Odysseus, and he confronts the suitors with his awful bow.*
* Although every one, since Carlyle gave his sketch of it (Miscell. vol. iii.), has known something of the NibelungenLied, and although modern poetry and art have made it, in one form or other, as familiar as any legendary poem extant, it is singular that we have not got it in English in any satisfactory shape. For my part, I prefer the German to the Norse type of the epic; for the latter has nothing equivalent to the sustained and elaborate drama of the ven.