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have been due to manuscript corrup- plaints that so little is to be made out tions, and to imperfect acquaintance of the poetry when one has got to with the poetic vocabulary and rules understand it.” It is, no doubt, exof the verse. Comparison and wise tremely annoying to the beginner to conjecture have already done much to find that some two lines of sonorous remove these initial bars to the study words, mainly perfect strangers to of skaldic verse, and there is now no him, mean no more than “man,” or lack of reliable material on which to
“woman," or "ship;" and there is work. In no long time we may expect ample excuse for his saying in his to see the whole of the old Northern haste that the whole of skaldic verse poetry in as satisfactory a form is vanity. He is not likely to apprethat of Greece and Rome.
ciate the enthusiasm of Gröndal, who The point that remains is that of maintains that the kennings are the the boy with the alphabet,-is it worth glory and beauty of the poetry,—“the while going through so much to learn magic veil which the poet casts over so little? A verse of eight lines is apt the idea. There is such an enchantwhen analyzed and translated, to ment over all this poetry, that we bedwindle down to some dozen words of
come enchanted ourselves, and do not very ordinary import, in which no
know up from down. These are the poetry whatever is discernible. dragons of fabulous colors and forms “Translating the Gaelic word for word
which lie outside Beauty's enchanted is what spoils it,” and it is probably a
castle, and when one bas overcome false method of translation that has them, they themselves become Beauty, ruined the reputation of the skalds as
the true poetical idea.” poets. The elocutionist who insists
We must plead guilty in the matter that verse is to be read as prose leaves
of the kennings, and we shall probno reason for writing in verse at all; ably take the true view of them, if and what "operæ pretium" is the skald
we remember that the skald was, above to have for his alliterations and his as
all, an artist in language and an ausonances, if his work is to be judged thority on myths. In his verses he by its value in unregenerate prose? desired to display both of these accomThe reader of the bald abstracts in the plishments, and it is a feature by no “Corpus poeticum boreale" may well
means confined to Northern literature be excused for seeing neither beauty if in the end the style overpowered the nor poetry in what is there presented matter. Skaldic poetry is not simple to him, but who would estimate a
and easy to understand, simply bechorus of Aristophanes by its value
cause it was never meant to be. If even in the best translation? The
Thucydides wrote darkly iva un rãowy translation ought to guide us back to
είη βατός αλλά τους λίαν σοφούς, as Marcelthe original, and not take its place.
linus assures us, so also the skald It was not metre, however, but mythology, combined with their views composed with the fear of his fellows
before his eyes. When the poetic asof poetic diction, that made the skalas both diffuse and obscure. The kenning, pirant, fresh from the wilds of Ice
land, thrust himself into the king's or device to avoid calling a spade a
hall in Norway, and asked leave to: spade, or anything else by its own
recite his panegyric, he knew that name,i .is the distinctive mark of all their verse; and Gröndal is right in among his hearers would be the king's:
own skalds, ready to comment on any saying that it is "the eternal theme
want of knowledge or want of skill which lies at the bottom of these com
he might display. Elaboration of al1 A kenning is a phrase like “storm of the lusion, of language, and of metre, was sword's edges"=battle; “ wound-snake"=sword; the standard that all aimed at. When “ wound-snake's wielder" warrior. The ken- Gunnlaug recited his poem to the nings for "man” in Gröndal's "Clavis Poetica"
Swedish King Olaf, the latter asked extends to thirty-three closely printed columns,
Hrafn for his opinion of it. “It is a probably some two thousand in all.
high-sounding poem," said he, “but sarily a simple one, as we are somecoarse and somewhat stiff, as Gunn- times inclined to think. It may be laug's own nature is." Then Hrafn suspected that not seldom the unprorecited his own poem, and Gunnlaug fessional hearer of a drápa was in the criticised it. "It is a pretty poem," he position of the king of Greece, when said, “as Hrafn himself is in appear- Brian, the son of Tuireann, made his ance, but it has little show about it; covert request for the famous pigskin. and why,” he added, "did you make "That is a good poem,” said the king, only a flokk about the king? Did you “only I do not understand a word of not think him worth a drápa ?”
its meaning." In reading the verses of the skalds, Even a skald might at times be imwhether the single sonnets or the long posed on in this way, if we are to give poems, the question suggests itself, credit to the amusing anecdote of whether it is possible that they could Sneglu-Halli, told in the saga of Harald have been clearly understood by those Hardrádi. Halli was in England, and who heard them for the first time. when all 'his preparations to sail for The elaborate kennings, the parenthet- Norway were complete, he went to ical clauses, the insertion of parts of court and recited a poem to the Enthe burden in separate verses,1-all glish king. When the recitation was this must have laid a heavy tax on the ended, the king asked a skald who was attention of the hearers even although with him, what the merits of the poem the style of poetry was familiar to might be. The skald answered that it them. This is 'shown by the fact that was well done, whereupon the king a modern Icelander finds the verses un- asked Halli to stay there and let it be intelligible without study, though learned by others. "That may not be," every word may be familiar to him, said Halli, “I am all ready to depart, and in reading the sagas aloud, the and can make no stay here." "Then," verses are nearly always omitted as said the king, "your reward for the conveying no meaning to the audience. poem will be in accordance with the It is perhaps going too far to say that satisfaction we have out of it. Sit they were “conundrums" to the poet's down there, and I shall make them contemporaries, but in the sagas them, pour silver over your head, and you selves indications are not wanting that shall have what sticks in your hair." the meaning was sometimes difficult to Halli went outside first, got his hair follow. When Thorleif made bold to smeared with tar, and made it stick repeat his satire to its object, Earl out as much as possible, so that it Hákon, the latter was at first under caught a fair amount of the king's silthe impression that there was praise ver. But as for the poem, says the in every verse. This may have been
saga, it was all nonsense, made up as an exceptional piece of cleverness on he went along. the part of Thorleif, but one is inclined We shall, therefore, in all likelihood, to think that various other poems could be doing no injustice to the skalds if not have yielded a very distinct im- we judge their work to a great exten pression at their first hearing. The though not entirely, from the formal probability is that only when the side. Of its excellence in this respect verses were got by heart, did the there can be little question, considermeaning of each word and line become ing the difficulties of the form.
Luperfectly clear. This was certainly cilius, with his two hundred verses an the case with much of the Old Irish
hour stans pede in uno, had a slight verse, in which wisdom was intention- task compared with the Old Northern ally darkened by obscurity of expres- poet. But the skald had an ample sion. An oral literature is not neces- reward when his poem
pleted. In the hall of some mighty 1. As in Hallar-Stein's "Rekstefja," where it re
king or earl, hung with shields and quires the last lines of three verses to make up the whole stef.
swords, and filled with famous war
riors, he would pour fortu his well- from an indisposition to give the nec-
his tale. If full justice is not to be
Only when this method of translapoetry in the thought which underlies tion is properly carried out will Enthe skald's artificial expression, and glish readers have any opportunity of it only requires a thorough acquaint- forming a fair judgment of the quality ance with his language, and some sym- of skaldic verse. Their opinion then pathy with his conception of the poetic would probably be, that the truth lay ideal, to discover a real beauty in his
very much between the two views with work. To translate it adequately is which we started. The verses difficult, often well-nigh impossible, be- scarcely to be called “inspired,” and cause the kennings are not available "grand and sublime” are not the natin a modern rendering, and in them
ural adjectives for them; but they have lies the poetic adornment of the
an accuracy of form that removes thought. Whatever be the value of them from any charge of being “rude," his verses, it is doing the skald an in
nor are they always “tumid and objustice to translate them into prose, or
scure enough to be utterly worthless.” into ordinary English verse. They have no mean value in many reThis is a task which the English trans- spects-artistic, poetic, linguistic and lators of sagas have not come out of historical, but perhaps no one is likely as well as could be wished, probably to find much enjoyment in them, who
is not thoroughly versed in the lan- Constantine the Great made his cap. guage and learning of the skalds them- ital at Byzantium, about fifty miles selves.
farther west than Nicomedia and also W. A. CRAIGIE. on the Sea of Marmora. The new site
had all the advantages of the old one. 7 for the fifty miles of road connecting
the two points (the only paved road in
the present Turkish Empire) brought From The National Review. it near to the land routes to the east, THE VALUE OF CONSTANTINOPLE. while its sea communications gave it When Diocletian, at the end of the an importance without parallel. For a third century, found it necessary to hundred miles the Sea of Marmora is concentrate his attention upon his separated from the Black Sea by a eastern frontier, and upon the interior strip of 'hilly ground from twenty-five of Asia Minor, where the spread of to thirty miles across. This land belt Christianity was causing him deep is pierced at its centre by the Channel anxiety, he establissed his residenc of the Bosphorus, a zigzag loch or fiord at Nicomedia, the modern Ismid, at eighteen miles long from sea to sea, the extreme eastern end of the Sea of varying in width from half a mile to Marmora. Nicomedia was and is the a mile. Immediately beyond the enstarting-point on the way into Asia trance from the Sea of Marmora, on Minor. The Roman road ran a few the west or left hand side of the strait, miles south to Nicæa, and then struck a small, deep loch runs up into the due east to Angora and Sebasteia (now land for about three miles, forming a Sivas), from which roads led eastward safe and capacious harbor with an en into Armenia, and south-eastward to trance some four hundred yards across. the Euphrates at Samosata (Samsat). This is the Golden Horn, and ConFrom Angora in ancient times, a road stantine built his city on the triangular led straight to the great pass through spur between the harbor and the Sea. the Taurus, known as the Gate of North of the harbor lies the suburb Cilicia, and thence to Tarsus and of Galata, and on a hill above it the Adana and round the Gulf of Alex- suburb of Pera, while on the Asiatic andretta to Antioch. In Turkey to- side of the Bosphorus opposite the day there are no roads, but the chief Golden Horn is the suburb of Scutari. caravan track still begins at Ismid and Constantinople in capable hands follows the direction of the old Roman has unique advantages for its defence. road. There are two other routes So long as its owner has the superior leading from the Sea of Marmora to fleet, the military attack, either from the Taurus. One of them goes from Europe or Asia, must proceed along ? Ismid by Eskischehr to Iconium peninsula fifty miles long and only half (Konia), and the other to the same as broad. The assailant, therefore, is place from Broussa by Kutaia and tied to a narrow front of attack, with Afiun. From Ismid there is a direct his flanks exposed to the operations of inland route to Amasia and thence to the defending fleet. On either peninSamsun on the coast, as well as a route sula are splendid defensive positions. which keeps near or follows the coast On the European side, about fifto Sinope and Trebizond. A line teen miles from the Bosphorus, drawn from Broussa to Iconium, then the width of the peninsula is to the pass through the Taurus, and reduced by the Bay of Buyuk thence to Sivas and Amasia, encloses Chekmedje on the south, and the lake the great central district of Asia Minor, and marshes of Derkos on the north, which, being walled in by rugged hills to about fifteen miles. This position on the south, has its natural communi has in recent years been strongly forticátions with the Sea of Marmora. fied, and if properly armed and manned
In the generation after Diocletian, could hardly be taken by a frontal at
tack. It is computed, however, that vast region. The Black Sea has a the necessary garrison would be not coast line of more than two thousand less than seventy thousand men. The miles, to which the Sea of Azov adds banks of the northern half of the Bos- six hundred more. To the Black Sea phorus bristle with batteries, which goes all the trade of the great naviare said to mount between four hun- gable rivers, the Danube, the Dniester, dred and five hundred guns. On the the Dnieper, and the Don, with som south the chief defence of the city is portion of the trade of the Volga, tranthe Dardanelles, the passage which shipped to the Don. All this great connects the Sea of Marmora with the trading area communicates by sea with Ægean. The Dardanelles are the outside world only through the hundred and twenty-five miles from Bosphorus. Every increase in the Constantinople, forty-three miles long, prosperity of any district lying beside and vary in width from thirteen hun- the Black Sea, or penetrated by one of dred to four thousand yards. The its rivers, must bring with it a corstrait is defended by works mounting responding increase of the trade and something like six hundred and eighty shipping that passes and probably calls guns. It will be evident that the de. at the Golden Horn. If we take a fence of Constantinople involves the larger view, and look at the natural judicious co-operation of an army and directions of traffic between East and navy, and that its attack by an army West, and between North and South, alone must be always a difficult enter- we find that Constantinople is the prise. The length and narrowness of centre of a circle, of which radii run the two straits is such that modern ar- along the Euphrates and the Persian tillery properly employed would render Gulf, along the Suez Canal and the the attempt even of ironclads to pass Red Sea, and along the Nile. All through them against the will of the these are natural and necessary direcdefenders a most hazardous operation. tions of trade, and if at the present An investment of the city would be day some of them are unused, it is only practicable only in case the defender because the Ottoman Turks, wherever were without a navy, and the assail- they have settled, have destroyed inant had succeeded in passing some of dustry, ruined agriculture, and renhis ships into the Sea of Marmora. dered communication so precarious as
Constantine the Great, of course, in- to drive away trade. tended his city to be the capital of the The land trade of Constantinople has empire, which implies that it could dis- always been directed on the Asiatic pose for its defence of an army and a side along the two groups of routes navy on a level with the standard of described above, and leading either to the times. So long as that condition Armenia or to the Gulf of Alexanis fulfilled, Constantinople is probably dretta and the Upper Euphrates. In more favorably situated for defence Europe there is one great natural than any other city in the world. But route which can never lose its impora great capital implies much more than tance. It follows the line Adrianople, good local conditions of defence. It Philippopolis, Sofia, Nisch and the should be placed at some meeting point Valley of the Morava to the Danube, of necessary communications, so that and into it branch the various roads it will always be a focus of inter- crossing the Balkans from northern course. It is from this point of view Bulgaria. In ancient times there was that the importance of Constantinople a Roman road from Constantinople is greatest. A magnificent safe harbor along the northern shore of the Ægean like the Golden Horn might well at- to Saloniki, and thence across the tract commerce even to some distance mountains to the Adriatic at Durazzo. from its direct path, but Constantino- This was a strategical road, and can ple lies upon a route which must needs hardly be said to have followed a natbe followed by the whole trade of a ural line; it has long ago passed into