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About the fields and flowery meads,
Like the laborious bee,
For little drops of honey fly, And there with humble sweets contents her industry.' That verse so harmonious, and poetry so splendid, picturesque, and noble as Pindar's, should have been laid so completely on the shelf as it has been in modern times, affords a very remarkable instance of the effect of popular prejudice founded on erroneous criticism. And truly, if to write poems in lines of every diversity of length, without metre or rhythm, without connexion or sense, were to write like Pindar, we think it would be much better to leave the old bard · alone with his glory,' such as it still is, than, by venturing a word in his favour, run the hazard of quickening into increased activity the swarms of poetasters who now annually vent their petty insults upon the English muse :-rhymesters at best, but who cannot rhyme truly, and who, confident in the gifts of nature, care not, or know not, that poetry is an artma most subtle, complicated and difficult art, requiring an ear for, or a sense of, musical harmony, an appreciation of the effect of rhythm upon metre, and an insight into the meaning of the words and power of construction of their native language. But it is the case with the little poets as with the little painters of the day; they are both alike impatient of study, and sacrifice the enduring beauty which results from just proportion, to the momentary effect produced by unnatural contrasts of light and shade. Every season, in the exhibition rooms of London, we see subjects, at which Michael Angelo would have paused, attempted by young men who have positively not learned to draw with ordinary correctness ; while our tiniest rhymesters trip, with unblushing audacity, from the namby-pamby canzonet of your silken · Annual,' or the boyish doggrel of a Magazine Satire, upon themes for the contemplation of which Milton, in the plenitude of his strength, would have girt up his loins with prayer and fasting.
We have been partly led to the consideration of this subject by the appearance of an entire translation of Pindar by Mr. Cary, and the completion of that by the late Mr. Abraham Moore. Both of these versions, differing widely from each other, are valuable additions to the library of English translation. The first is more the work of a poet, the second that of a scholar. Both may be read with advantage by the student, and with pleasure by those unacquainted with Greek; but Cary's is by much the best substitute for Pindar himself. We regret that a few notes, explanatory of the genealogies and local allusions, were not given in this latter version ; at least the date and occasion of each ode, and the name of the person whose victory is commemorated,
ought in all reason to have been prefixed by the translator. These omissions may be supplied upon some future occasion, which, small as the encouragement in the present day is for works of this sort, we hope will not be wanting; and if the few remarks which have occurred to us in resuming our acquaintance with Pindar shall in any degree be found useful in making the true character of his poetry, and the probable principles upon which his odes are constructed, better known, we shall feel gratified with our labour.
That the successful translator of Dante should become a successful translator of Pindar, though a fortune worthy of high congratulation, is not to us either unexpected or unaccountable. For, though it be true that Dante and Pindar were men of very diverse tempers, and the poetry of each exhibits traits of thought and feeling unknown to that of the other, there is, nevertheless, one characteristic by which, as poets, they are in common preeminently distinguished. We mean to say that Dante and Pindar are, in a strict sense of the word, the two most picturesque of the great poets of the world—that they display this power in so remarkably high a degree, that, in spite of all minor discrepancies, both of them must be ranked by the philosophic critic in the same class. In order to guard against mistake, we must add, that by picturesqueness we do not mean a frequency or prominence of mere picturable matter, such as may be found in every ode of Horace, and in almost every song in Metastasio ; for this abundance of matter for painting is often conspicuous in the works of poets in whom the power of painting is signally deficient. We rather intend to mark the natural faculty—which is not acquireable by art—of producing by words a distinct image of outward form or compound action, visible to the mind's eye, and so clearly visible, that the pencil cannot make its outline clearer. As for a single example, take the well-known passage :
· Ella non ci diceva alcuna cosa,
A guisa di leon quando si posa.'-Purgatorio, c. vi. v. 64. Or Guidi's image of Rome,
• tacita nel seno
Mathias Comp. Liv. iii. p. 29. Or those few lines
"Αγχι δ'ελθων πολιάς αλός οίος εν όρωνα, άπυεν βαρύκουπον
Ευτρίαιναν · δ δ' αυτώ
reg mooi oxsdòv pávn.-Olymp. I. v. 114.
Straight at his feet the god appear'd.' --Cary.
κυαναιγίς εν όρφνα κνώσσονεί οι
παρκείμενον δε συλλαβών τέρας.-κ. τ. λ. --Olymp. ΧΙΙΙ. ν. 94. • As he in darkness slept,
Thus, to his sight reveal'd,
The wonder seized that near him lay.'-Cary. Or, if we may be excused a further and longer illustration, take the account of Evadne's labour and the birth of Iamus :
“A δε φοινικόκροκον
Gávav xarabnxeepéva.—. T. 2.-Olymp. VI. v. 66.
The silver ewer beside her laid,
of azure flame,
And that his generation should not fail.” * Surely • unharmful venom’ is a misleading version of a puslepsã in peshootãy, which means the blameless or pure dew or juice of the bees-honey,
Not to have seen or heard him they avouch'd,
For ever this, undying name.'-Cary. The sympathetic sense of the picturesque in poetry, and the power of preserving it in another language, which gave Mr. Cary so much advantage in translating Dante, have insured to him a proportionate success with Pindar. We do not say that his success, taken absolutely, is equal in this his later attempt; and it is not surprising that such should not be the case, the difficulties of adequately rendering Pindar being so much greater. Add to the mere talent or knack of translation which many possess, the generally pure and racy diction, and the strong sense of the picturesque which cannot be denied to Mr. Cary, and you have provided the main qualities of a good translator of Dante. The moral tone and manner of narrative of the Divine Comedy are very easily imitable, as may be inferred by the uniformity, in this one respect, of versions by Hayley, Cary, Byron, and Wright; but the difficulty of executing the terza rima in English is, we think, insurmountable. Perhaps (as we lately had occasion to express our opinion) Mr. Cary showed the soundest judgment in adopting the Miltonic measure—not as like, but as a satisfactory substitute for, the original. Certainly Mr. Wright's double triplets without the third rhyme, which so subtly links together the total rhythmic flow of the Italian, sound to our ears as little like the Dantescan harmony as Cary's blank verse, and not so easy and noble. But, considerable as the difficulty of the terza rima is in the way of a translator of Dante, it is little in comparison with the task of rendering into English the various and complicated movements of Pindar's Odes. The great Florentine marches through the nether, middle, and upper worlds with an even step; learn his pace once, and you may keep up with him always. But it is not so with Pindar; the speed with which he sets out is often enough doubled or trebled before he gets to the end of his course ; eagle of song as he was, and dared to call himself—not the swan, as Horace and Cowley call him-he has all the movements of that imperial bird, now towering right upwards to heaven's gate, now precipitating himself to the earthnow floating with spread wings in the middle ether, and now couching with the setting sun on the gilded battlements of a temple. No poet is so slow-none so rapid; a master of sentences, a
preacher of piety, an offerer of prayers, he drops word after word
" Tres imbris torti radios, tres nubis aquosæ
Miscebat operi, flammisque sequacibus iras.'
• God of our fathers! what is Man,
Irrational and brute!' &c. -passing off into this variety of rhythm,
• But who is this, what thing of sea or land-