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“joyed to behold her," whom she “ feeds while they are weak and young,” and “ thrusts forth when they are waxed old : ".
'—a very wise and kind proceeding, but matter of time ; not to be depictured so much as to be thought of and moralized upon. Doubtless the two stanzas give us a picture of Charissa sitting in her ivory chair, open-necked, arrayed in yellow, a tire of gold upon her head, and a pair of doves by her side, children sporting about her, and one sucking in her arms; but how slowly and interruptedly is it wrought out!-how differently does Spenser paint from Dante and Pindar, who flash out a picture, and then proceed, leaving it to tell its own tale. The Catullian picture of Ariadne is interrupted by one touch of mental description :
Prospicit, et magnis curarum fluctuat undis,
but this refers so directly to the visual object of the sea, the waves of which are washing her outer garment, head-gear, and girdle fallen at her feet, that it seems scarcely an interruption-seems one with those sensuous objects. The remarks which I have made on Spenser's Charissa may be applied to every other picture in Mr. Hunt's collection; they are all medleys. I may mention another character of visionary multiplicity and complexity in Spenser's pictures : he breaks into them with similes, and thus splits the image and sends the mind wandering in various directions. The passage quoted by my Father in illustration of his view, the comparison of Prince Arthur's crest with the Almond tree, is not particular” I think, but quite characteristic of Spenser's manner. 18
Her angel's face,
Here we scarcely see the eye for the sunshine; we glance from earth to heaven, from the shady covert to the flaming sky—and the sun itself is likened to the eye of man, and we think of a sunbeam penetrating a leafy grove. We are surrounded with images of shade and sunshine, but rather feel the beauty of Una's eye than see it. The descriptions of Britomart's hair are just of the same character : in one of them it is said to be wound about her body
Like as the shining skie in summer's night,
13 See Book iii., canto ix., st. xx., and Book iv., canto i., st. xiii.
The simile of the statue in the pictures of Ariadne and of Kailyal has a different effect; it does not call away the mind from the object it is brought to express, but appears for a moment, like snow upon a river,then melts into the current of thought and is lost sight of.
To deny Spenser's pictorial power would be ridiculous; but we may at least affirm that he used it in a way of his own; and that, if Pindar's and Dante's are proper pictures, his are very beautiful improper ones. His description, even of a single object, is sometimes a cluster of pictures, with morals and sentiments interfused. The representations in the Faery Queen, in Paradise Lost, in Dante's Inferno, have each a specific character, appropriate to the poem in which they are found respectively. The first are dream-like, fit for Fairy Land; the second are cosmological : they are grand symbols of the universe ; while Dante's Spiritworld, especially the first division of it, is described with matter-of-fact particularity. Very closely connected with this picturesqueness," says my Father, after giving instances of the picturesque from the Inferno, " is the topographic reality of Dante's journey through Hell."14 So particular is the description, that I have always thought I could find my way through it without Virgil to guide me; and that, with Virgil to guide me, discoursing as he went, if it were not for fear of the demons and sorrow for the condemned, I should prefer the tour to that of the toilsome Purgatorio, or the blinding Paradiso. There is one lovely picture of Pindar's, I do not say
proper or improper, which I have omitted to mention; but it came to my mind, in referring to the passage of Wieland's Oberon, “where Retzia is delivered of her child,” together with Spenser's birth of Belphebe and Amoret :16 - I mean that of the baby Iamus lying hid among rushes in the “ brambly maze.” This is distinct from that of Evadne coming to the spring with her silver ewer, and throwing off her crimson girdle; and also from that of Iamus, in the bloom of youth, invoking Apollo and Neptune in the stream of the Alpheus ; these two last might form shutters or side pictures, while the first-mentioned might occupy the centre. Here is a part of the tale told with naked simplicity ; I give this poor blank verse, unlyrical as it is, rather th in Mr. Cary's elegant version, because it is my object to bring out the Pindaric picture plainly, and “ the paste of honeyed words,” which the rhymed translations spread over it, somewhat obscures it. My translation, though not word for word everywhere, never alters the thought or image.16 14 Remains, i., p. 163.
15 Faëry Queen, Book iii., c. vi. 16 I object in Mr. C.'s version to “ Iamus sprang forth to light:" this is too Minerva-like; it takes from the naturalness, the feeling of baby helplessness and forlornness which gives the interest to the picture.
But she, her zone of crimson woof down laying
short sweet pang released the child.” I cannot persuade myself that Pindar so far departed from nature and differed from Scripture as to speak thus. One commentator suggests that loved or lovely may belong to Iamus ; which I had also thought, but rejected, because it would make four osses come together, which Pindar would scarce have allowed. Two dragons came with eyes of azure flame.” This story is a legend, no fairy tale; it is made up of the common materials of mother earth, as to the outward and phenomenal part. Mr. Ruskin says that olive-green is a color of sky “ in which Nature is not apt to indulge :" neither, I think, does she indulge in azure flames for the eyes of serpents. Iliad xx., ver 172, shows the true sense of γλαυκώπς. . The cognate verb means to glare or gleam as do the eyes of a wild beast about to spring upon its victim. The ylait, like other owls, has prominent glaring eyes. The sea was called glaucous from its gleaming, and then the epithet passed over to the color of the sea (Passow). That vision of a blue-eyed Pallas must vanish, after haunting the Homer-reader for so many centuries. Verschwinde doch, wir haben ja aufgeklärt! “ Bee's unharmful venom.” The Greek ibs signifies radically emission: it may mean an arrow, rust, poison, or honey: no epithet can change the nature of venom. “ His delicate body wet with yellow and empurpled rays from many a violet.” The word translated is metaphorical : our sprinkled is often so used ; Moore quotes in illustration :
Lastly, ?ov is the same word as viola: but our violets have no red and yellow rays, and they grow in dry places. The rushes and the ewer show that Iamus was born in a watery situation. Pindar meant a kind of narcissus or daffodil, a flower which, as Mr. Wordsworth’s poem and the old fable of Narcissus show, often grows near water. The ancients had also dark violets. Mr. Cary has the authority of Beaumont and Fletcher for his “ golden tressed Apollo :" still I cannot think the epithet accurate : for a tress is a plait or braid. Neither Apollo nor any male deity of the Greeks ever appeared in braids. Homer uses the phrase xpvoor lókapos in the hymn to Apollo, but applies it to that divinity's mother, not to himself. If it can be shown that any old Greek author applies it to man, hero, or god, I must yield the point: but it seems to me that the ancients were always exact and true in their epithets; their poetry was, in this respect, like popular speech and proverbs. This we always find when we come to understand their language, and to what natural objects their words were really applied. We moderns lose a good deal by being so misty and indis
To aid her. Then came Iamus to light
To wear for aye that fair and fadeless name. The readers of my Father's poetry will call to mind some sweet childpictures of his, such as Pindar, in his day, would never have imagined.
The fairy thing with red round cheeks,
That always finds and never seeks. 17– and that in the Preface to the Wanderings of Cain,
Encinctured with a twine of leaves,
By moonlight in a wilderness, &c.18
Of babe, that tempts and shuns the menaced kiss,
From its twy-cluster'd hiding-place of snow ! tinct; looking into a raree-show for our descriptions rather than into the realm of nature. We cover our auriculas with many-colored powder instead of candying them. I do not dissent from the praises given to Mr. Cary's version in the Article on Pindar in the Quarterly; it has great merit on the whole; yet I think that Moore understood his author better. In his version Pindar's face looks bloated; he seems to have been drinking: the chaplet of flowers on his head has got a little awry, and his speech is diffuse and pompous : but Pindar sometimes slips away from us in Mr. Cary's version, and we have instead a sort of Keatsified Milton. This note will be excused as it aims to illustrate my Father's remarks on the diction of Pindar in Chapter xviii, of this volume.
17 P. W., ii., p. 53. 18 Ib., ii., p. 100.