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Courted by all the winds that hold them play,—
Her harbinger, a damsel train behind ?’ But the truth is, the choric odes of the Greek tragedians are constructed upon principles, and breathe a spirit very different from what we seem to discover in Pindar, who especially requires a more distinct expression, and a quicker repercussion of musical sounds. In this respect, also, our great master has, in his L'Allegro and Il Penseroso—more particularly in the formershown a power over the English language of which there are few examples, and which cannot without the very greatest skill and felicity be preserved within the limits allowed by faithful translation. Long habit has seemed to make rhyme essential to our lyric verse; and, no doubt, by marking the metre more distinctly, and by exciting and gratifying the ear in its craving for the return of similar sounds, rhyme does very materially add to the peculiar pleasure which every one of any sensibility receives from the recitation of that kind of poetry. It helps also to supply something of that melody and sonorousness of words in which the Greek is so infinitely superior to the English and all other modern European languages. But then, on the other hand, rhyme is a very Procrustes' bed in the hands of a translator; the dimensions of the original must be made to fit the appointed frame, cost what it may in amputation, excision, or stretching; and it may well be questioned whether, upon a review of all our English versions of the Greek and Latin poets—to say nothing of the foreign poetry of modern Europe-more has been gained by the use of rhyme, in producing what is called readability, than has been lost, through the difficulties which it imposes, in omissions, garblings, and total misrepresentations of the meaning and character of the original authors.
It is certainly not true that rhyme is indispensable to the perfection of some kinds of lyric verse in English. The choruses in the Agonistes, in which the rhymes are only scattered here and there, are a proof of this; so we must be bold to say—notwithstanding some stiff phrases—is the translation from Horace:
• What slender youth, bedew'd with liquid odours,
Pyrrha ? for whom bind'st thou
In wreaths thy golden hair,
Plain in thy neatness ?' &c. And, in our judgment, Collins’s rhymeless Ode to Evening is not surpassed for musical effect in any language in Europe ;
• If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales,' &c. We some time ago chanced to hear Mr. Coleridge recite the following lines, as a specimen of lyric rhythm, which he thought might satisfy the ear without rhyme; and we well remember, whilst listening to the intonations of that old man eloquent,' our feeling that rhyme would have been even injurious to the effect. • To a Cataract from a cavern near the summit of a mountain
precipice :• Unperishing youth!
• The wild goat, in awe, Looks
If this, or something like this, could be sustained permanently, and fitted to correspond with the varieties of the original, we think more of what is really Pindar's, and less of what is not Pindar's, might be worthily given in an English version. The labour to the translator would, in one respect, be greatly increased, unless he were a master of versification ; for where the popular support of rhyme is wanting, the choice and balance of words must be exquisite, in order to produce the melody which the English ear requires in lyric measures. But if the translator were a perfect craftsman in this, then surely, being liberated from the necessity of finding like-ending words, he might venture to interpret his original with an
exacter fidelity. The almost necessary faults of rhyming translators are not so much those of omission as of commission ; they are not satisfied with what satisfied their betters; nescio quid majus Iliade is always secretly in their hopes, and they insist that the fire of the original must not be lost by an over-scrupulous attempt to preserve its form.
With which proposition we entirely agree, and only require an instance to be shown where that which really is tire in the original has ever been extinguished—or even dimmed-by the exactness of the form of transfusion alone. But if something more is meant, and it is alleged to be a translator's duty to embellish the original, then we dissent. At least, if you smear paint upon a plain face, you ought to be very sure that you will improve what you must disguise. It may well be that the bare place which you have decked with fruits not its own, was intended_or, at all events, now serves- to give relief and lustre to the flower planted next to it; and it may also be, that the sheathed rose-bud, which with infinite labour you have contrived to blow all abroad, has thereby lost at once the beauty and the fragrance which it had. Some one brought to Sheridan, we think, the Beauties of Shakspeare, in one volume; he asked, where the other seven were. So it is pre-eminently with Pindar. No other poet of all antiquity so imperatively demands from a translator a strict observance of his shade as well as his light; to adorn that which he has left plain is, more than with any other poet we know, to confound all resemblance. He is, for the most part, so figurative, that, where he speaks without a figure, it may well be presumed that he did so on purpose, and his purpose ought to be observed.
We will say for Mr. Cary, that he has been less ashamed of his original than any other translator of Pindar who has gone before ; indeed, we expected as much from his manly version of the rough places in Dante: yet rhyme and fashion, and the cant of common versifiers, have led him away from the simple straight-forwardness of his noble original more often than we could have wished. We have already mentioned those three opening lines of the second Olympic; just take them as an example:
τίνα δ' άνδρα κελαδήσομεν ; Which Mr. Cary renders thus :
• Ye hymns, that rule the lyre,
?' • Whom shall we sing, O Hymns ?' says Pindar, with a strong personification, but a direct and simple meaning. The translator makes Pindar ask the Hymns who shall inspire the Song. Are not the hymns and the song the same ?-and is not this as tasteful as to say—O Violin, what shall we play on the fiddle ?-meaning the same kit all the while ? Besides, what has the word • inspire'-and, especially, what has the word warbled '—to do in such a passage ? The first we impute to the rhyme; the second, we set down to a momentary deliquium of taste and Pindaric feeling. Pindar never warbles, that we remember :-did David warble?-he sings, if you will, and strikes the lyre ; and if there must be epithets in English, where there are none in the Greek, let them twang, or chime, or ring, or sound, in any way, as from the strings of the lyre—the instrument of gods and heroes; but let us have no memorial of sol fa, or the prima donna. 'AvažiCóguuyyes should be the pitch-pipe to the translator of Pindar.
We have mentioned this short passage as an obvious instance of that sort of slipslop translation, which is more unbearable when applied to Pindar, than to almost any other poet we know. But this is not Mr. Cary's general manner; if it had been, our respect for his Dante would have made it necessary for us to be silent on his Pindar. No, the general character of this translation is manly, and some of the most difficult things in Pindar, and the most opposed in tone, are executed with equal excellence. The moral sentences and personal reflections of the poet are rendered with great spirit; for example, can anything be better than this?
Πολλά μοι υπ' αγκώ-
Pavãrta OUVETOTOIV° %. 7. 2.-II. Olymp. v. 149.
Clamoring, like daws, at Jove's celestial bird."
*Η θαύματα πολλά.
garatWuro pūlos. %. 7.2.-1. Olymp. 43,
grace, that can a magic throw
For so is blame eschew'd.' All the passages in Pindar of this grave, sententious kind and most of our readers know how numerous and characteristic they are—appear to us to be translated by Mr. Cary with peculiar suc
But his success is not limited to this department of the original; in those passages in which an exquisite elegance of style, and, a certain subtle lightness of thought predominate, he has more than once been very felicitous. We know nothing in all Pindar so graceful—so exclusively graceful--in manner, as his address to the Graces : the inspiration seems more than a figure, and, indeed, we cannot doubt that the poet, upon this occasion, studied in a peculiar degree to achieve a tone germane to the character of his ladies-patronesses. We venture to quote the whole ode, which is short, and will serve as an instance of the poet's and the translator's manner, in an entire composition.
Kαφισίων υδάτων λαχούσαι-κ. τ. λ.- -XIV. Olymp.
votive strains belong :
• Nor without the holy Graces,