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to reply, we hope not; but we may venture to express a wish that, if he does ' pursue the swelling theme,' he may be less diffuse, less trivial, less partial; and rather more solicitous to amuse or inform his readers, than to increase, by every artifice of amplification, the bulk of his volumes, and the consequent amount of his copyright.
Art. II.-1. Pindar in English Verse. By the Rev. Henry
Francis Cary, A.M. London. 12mo. 1833. 2. The Odes of Pindar, translated from the Greek, with Notes
Critical and Explanatory. By Abraham Moore, Esq. Part II. 3. Bibliotheca Græca, curantibus Frid. Jacobs et V. C. F. Rost.
Vol. VI. continens Pindari carmina, edente Ludolpho Dis
senio, Professore Gottingensi. Gothæ et Erfordiæ. 1830. • TF a man should undertake,' says Cowley, 'to translate Pindar
I word for word, it would be thought that one madman had translated another; as may appear when he that understands not the original, reads the vulgar traduction of him into Latin prose, than which nothing seems more raving. And sure, rhyme, without the addition of wit and the spirit of poetry—(quod nequeo monstrare, et sentio tantum)—would but make it ten times more distracted than it is in prose. He adds, I have in these two odes of Pindar taken, left out, and added what I please; nor make it so much my aim to let the reader know precisely what he spoke, as what was his way and manner of speaking. And then, by way of letting the English reader know precisely the way and manner in which Pindar was accustomed to speak, Cowley proceeds to render the commencement of the second Olympic Ode in the following terms :
· Queen of all harmonious things,
Dancing words and speaking strings,
Begin, begin thy noble choice, And let the hills around reflect the image of thy voice!'To the merit of which Pindaric burst Pindar himself can no otherwise lay any claim than on the score of three Greek lines, which, in despite of Cowley's hard words, we will venture to set before the reader in three lines of literal prose :
• Ye harp-controlling hymns !
What man shall we resound ?' There is in the original a superb compoundávazucógracyges which rings on the ear like the sounds of a harp by night; with the exception of that fine word, the poet suffers but little loss
in our plain English. Pindar at times bitterly reviles his enemies, and calls them crows, and daws, and worse; yet their malignity did him small harm with his contemporaries, and none with posterity ; but, strange to say, the admiration of a poet of exquisite genius and fancy—the very model, upon occasion, of pure diction in his own language, has been well nigh fatal to him in modern Britain. Pindar would have loved Cowley had he known him in the flesh, for they were both pure, religious, loyal, and learned men ; yet his self-love must have been less active than we think it was, if he would not have considered the friendship even of Cowley purchased too dearly at the expense of having his great Olympic song so handled by our countryman as it was destined to be.
That Cowley did not understand the construction of Pindar's odes, is apparent from the argument which he prefixes to his translation of this second Olympic, where he says that
this ode (according to the constant custom of the poet) consists more in digressions than in the main subject. The manner which he thus mistakenly imputes to Pindar, Cowley adopted himself in the composition of those odes of his own, which, from a supposed similarity of style, he called Pindarique Poems,-not worthless, but yet of little worth, and which, by popular association, have largely contributed to throw the poetry of Pindar into that discredit or neglect which they themselves excited, and partly deserved. Some particular passages in the works of the Theban poet have indeed been excepted by scholars, and noted for general admiration ; but the “fine passages' are not the finest things in Pindar, and the charge of general obscurity and want of unity has been gathering for a long time so thickly round his name, that it may seem worse than idle to attempt at this time of day to dispel the settled gloom.
The fame of Pindar amongst the ancients was transcendant and unique. Horace, who had but little of his spirit, had nevertheless å deep sense of his unapproachable majesty. Cowley, who was much nearer akin to the Latin than the Greek poet, expresses his own and Horace's feelings upon this point with great prettiness, after his peculiar manner :
Lo! how the obsequious wind and swelling air
Whilst, alas ! my timorous muse
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'ελθών πολιάς αλός οίος εν ορφνα, , άπυεν βαρύκτυπον
Ευτρίαιναν • ο δ' αυτώ
gue Togì ở shop ovn.–Olymp. I. v. 114.
Straight at his feet the god appear'd.'-Cary.
κυαναιγίς εν όρφνα κνώσσαντί οι
Tagasijuesvou dè ovaacßey tigas.~%. 7.2.-Olymp. XIII. v. 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
Gávcev xataonxopéve.%. 5.2.-Olymp. VI. v. 66.
And that his generation should not fail.” * Surely “unharmful venom’is a misleading version of a pescozãião pesadosãy, which means the blameless or pure dew or juice of the bees-honey.