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5. Thou hast as many virtues, Virgin, as stars in the heavens.
6. Virtue is the only pathway of a peaceful life.
V. EXERCISES IN HEXAMETERS (Connected)
So far we have been dealing with single verses in hexameter metre. The next step will be to put into practice all the rules we have learned and render in correct and idiomatic Latin poetry an English poem. As it will be continuous verse, there will be run-over lines, though the thought, unless it be complex, should be as far as possible kept within a single verse. For the sake of variation, however, run-over lines should be introduced, otherwise monotonous precision will result.
The first and most important thing to bear in mind is that the Latin must express the thought contained in the English and yet be in the Latin idiom. This is a difficult task at first, but experience in prose composition, careful study of the poetic authors, together with diligent thumbing of the Gradus and dictionary, will enable the pupil to bring forth the idea in its proper form. A good test will be the retranslation of the verse into English.
Many thoughts may be expressed either by a word or phrase. Conciseness demands as few words as possible, though for effect this may be varied. If the exact word cannot be found in Latin to express the thought, then a paraphrase must be found.
When the sentence has been written in idiomatic Latin and the quantities have been marked, the student should consider what words will be most suitable for the fifth and sixth feet. Then he should arrange
the first half of the line. If the sentence translated still lacks the sufficient number of syllables to form a complete verse, he must determine whether he should draw upon the next sentence or rearrange his words or even use different expressions and paraphrases.
In the selection of words certain ones can always be eliminated, as for example, a short syllable between two long ones.
The arrangement of words must not violate the rule by which words generally should be found within or close to their respective clauses.
When a line has been formed that scans correctly, the next step will be to improve it, if it be possible. Too many spondees mar a line. Unless this arrangement is demanded by a solemn or mournful theme, it should be changed. Too many dactyls render a line too light and quick. In this case spondees should be introduced. Again, if the words all correspond with the feet, the line must be changed, as it violates one of the most important rules of versification (page 23).
Care should be taken not to introduce too many elisions, especially rough and inharmonious ones.
VI. A MODEL EXERCISE IN HEXAMETERS
That the student beginning the exercises may not be at a loss how to proceed, it will be well for him to study the following method of translating into hexameters these lines from Tennyson's Enoch Arden.
There Enoch traded for himself and bought
Quaint monsters for the markets of those times,
HINTS. Let us suppose we have the following paraphrase: (1) There Enoch traded for himself (proprius), agreeing with noun expressed in the idea (“traded ”), (2) and bought quaint (mira) monsters to be sold again at home, (3) also (et) a dragon with gilded scales (literally “a dragon of gold and scales") to please (future participle agreeing with " dragon") the children.
Assisted by these hints we translate the passage as follows, putting down the synonyms where there is more than one that can be used:
emit domi rursus vendenda coemit
squamisque (et) pueris placiturum.
egit miraque (et) monstra fecit
The principal difficulty here will be to select the proper words for "trade," "bought" and "serpent."
The next step will be to mark all the quantities with the aid of the Gradus or dictionary, care being taken to notice those final quantities which may be long or short according to the word that follows in the verse.
cōm mērciă | gēssit
Beginning with the fifth and sixth feet we find we have a choice of two renderings:
Illic should start the line, and as Enochus has all the vowels long, it should come next and complete the line as far as the
Illic | Enochus ||
Putting these two together we have almost the entire line : Illic Enōchus|| | prōpriă gessit cōm mērciă gessit
If we use propria gessit for the fifth and sixth feet, all we need is one long (or two short) syllables to complete the third
foot, and a dactyl (or spondee) for the fourth foot. Commercia would qualify for this place, and thus we have the line : Illic Enō chus || com|mērciă | prōpriă | gēssit
As this line is rather heavy, we shall offset this by a preponderance of dactyls in the next verse. Now following the same course, we find that we have a choice of three different ways for the fifth and sixth feet:
| miră coēmit
| mōnstră colemit
We could use either mira, monstra, or rursus for the sixth foot, but we should have nothing for the fifth. Coemit, however, with the above words makes a smooth ending to the line.
For the first foot we can use miraque or monstraque, leaving vendenda for the fifth. If we add monstra and domi to miraque we have the first half of the line:
Mirăque monstră domi || | vēn|dēndă co|ēmit
All we need to complete the line is a spondee, as ven- is a long syllable. Rūrsūs qualifies for this, so we complete the line thus:
Mirăque monstră do|mi || rūr|sūs vēn|dēndă co|ēmit. For the last line we have the following words left :
serpentem auro squamisque pueris placiturum
To form the fifth and sixth feet we might put půĕrīs tūrūm, which would scan, but it is a poor combination. have no word forming a complete dactyl we cannot use squamis or auro for the sixth foot, though they would make a good ending to the line. We can, however, use draconem for the last word in the line, and with squamisque we shall have the fifth and sixth feet:
squa misque drăcōnēm
As we have used que in the preceding line and have it in the fifth foot of this line it would be well to commence the first foot with et for variety. With pueris it will form the opening dactyl. If placiturum follows we have the first three feet:
Et puě ris plăci|tūrūm . . squa|mīsquè dră|cōnēm If we put auro following, we have the complete line:
Et puě rīs plăcitūrum aūrō || squa|misque dră|cōnēm.
In this rendering we have an elision and the caesura in the fourth foot. If we wish to avoid the elision and also put the caesura in the third foot, we must change our words. The idea expressed in placiturum may be translated by munus or donum. Putting auro after pueris and munus or donum next, we shall have the verse:
Et pueris aurō || mūnūs squā|misque dră cōnēm.
By changing the words around we can make four different renderings of the line.
Et dōnūm půĕrīs aurō squāmisquè drăcōnēm
Any one of these lines may be used, which fact goes to show that while the hints given with each exercise may assist us, they do not have to be followed.
If the student follows this method in working out his line, he will have a certain uniform mode of preceding which will enable him to work more easily. The first two steps, translating and marking the quantities, he can omit after a little practice, but in the beginning it will be well for him to follow all the steps noted down in the model just shown. If he does this,
"Nec facundia deseret hunc nec lucidus ordo."
– Ars Poetica, 1. 41.