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had so lately exulted in, gives one look to the ruins, and then seizes cheerily his pilgrim staff, for he has counted all the heads of his dear ones, and there is none missing.
The mould is now successfully filled; but what if it should have received amiss? what if it should burst? They have committed their work to the dark bosom of the earth, in the hope of its being raised to a nobler shape and a lasting existence, as the husbandman drops into the ground the seed of the harvest. This the poet turns into a natural and very striking type of the resurrection of the dead. The type was timely ; for the funeral bell tolls. It is for the affectionate mother, who was so lately the guide and the delight of her whole house.
The bell is left to cool, and the workmen meanwhile have a respite from their toil, though not the master from his anxious oversight. This suggests the coming on of evening, and the chiming of vespers. A charming pastoral scene is presented in the return of the peasantry with their cattle and sheep and loaded teams, and the dancing of the young reapers upon the darkening plain. The streets grow deserted; the town-gate is shut; the fireside becomes social. The deep night at last settles down, giving no uneasiness to the innocent, who are protected by the constant vigilance of the laws. An encomium of order and peace, and a prayer that they may never be broken, conclude this part of the poem.
The bell is next to be released from its prison. The hammers are busy, and the frame flies to pieces. But even in breaking up the model there is need of a wise caution, lest the burning brass should disengage itself with violence, and scatter destruction. This calls to mind the thought of popular tumults, when uproar prevails, and the clang of the alarm-bell startles the ear. The German bard, writing in 1799, with the atrocities of the French Revolution just behind him, goes on to describe graphically that bloody period, with more intenseness than either of his American representatives. The terrific cry of "Liberty and Equality" sounds rather faint in the "Freedom and Equal Rights" of the two versions before us; though we are not sure that it was possible to do better with it. But in one instance, certainly, Schiller's expression is too strong for either of our translators fully to come up with; perhaps his thought is too far "behind the age" to be repeated with approbation. He says, when nations free themselves
there can be no prosperous effect. Mr. Eliot translates more happily than literally,
"And when a mob e'en wrong assails,
The public welfare is no more.'
A similar case appears to us to occur a little further on. Würtemberg poet, who was probably not much of a "diffusion of knowledge" man, exclaims, Woe to those, who lend the heaven-torch of light to the forever blind!-complimenting the populace, it is likely, by that last appellation. We have a very good thought, though not that one, in the following; "Woe, woe to those who strive to light
The torch of truth by passion's fire!"
But this is digressing from our point, and anticipating what would be more in place presently.
The bell gleams forth from its casing, in full beauty. There is no spot or roughness in it. The very blazonry of the arms is distinctly defined. The goodness of God is acknowledged in it, and the name Concordia is solemnly bestowed on the work so favorably accomplished. It is then consecrated, in a very splendid passage, to the various offices which it is to fulfil, as it swings aloft, a neighbor to the thunder and to the stars, to be a voice from on high, praising the Creator, solemnizing the events of time, and counting its hours, and warning men, as its tones diminish on the ear, that so everything earthly must die away. A spirited call is made on the workmen, to lift it to its appointed height; a benediction is pronounced upon the people to whom it speaks; and its first peal is bidden to be PEACE.
Such is a plain account of the " Song of the Bell," the most popular of all Schiller's minor pieces, and which, it is said, every well-taught German knows by heart as a part of his education. For this last assertion, however, we will not vouch, as it would have to be responsible for several hundreds of lines, and we can cite no better authority than the Cabinet Cyclopædia.
Both the translations now before us do honor to their authors; one the President of the Boston Academy of Music, and filling the less harmonious office of mayor of the city; the other a young clergyman, Mr. Dwight. If we might venture to compare them, we should say that the first was the
more staid and cautious, the second the more fervid and poetical. The first is like the production of a highly cultivated mind, that has exercised its taste more than its invention; while the second is like the rapid effort of one who is something of a bard himself, - "anche pittore." The first seems afraid of transgressing; the second, without being at all less close to the original, indulges in a strong and spirited diction. In several instances, the imagery, that the first did not care to preserve, is reflected from the pages of the second with a bold fidelity. It should be borne in mind, however, that one, who has to study musical as well as poetical effect in his composition, lies under many restrictions. He must, for the most part, be flowing and tranquil, avoiding all words that are long, and admitting few that are rough. He must have an eye to the minstrel as well as to the author. All this Mr. Eliot has done, nowise daunted by difficulties, and even voluntarily encountering some that he might fairly have avoided.
What we have taken the liberty to say of the characteristic difference between the two versions, may be easily illustrated, by setting one or two corresponding passages of each side by side. Mr. Eliot translates, in one place;
"Alas! that all life's brightest hours
Mr. Dwight's lines run more literally thus;
Closes when life's May is flown ;
Another example may be found in the passage, that alludes to the enormities committed by the poissardes of Paris in the early days of the revolution. Mr. Eliot renders it,
"E'en woman, to a fury turning,
With horrid joy she sees them bleed."
In the rival version,-if we may call rivals them that are only emulous without knowing each other, in performing the same good work,—we read;
"Women, like fierce hyenas, go
And pluck the heart from mangled breasts."
All this is good on both sides; but the peculiar manner of each is strikingly observable, one calm, studious, restrained,
the other giving free scope to all the impulses of the scene described. Indeed, if we could object anything to the animated translation of Mr. Dwight, it would be the marks of haște that are here and there apparent. He could make it, with a little revision, much more perfect. He has succeeded admirably in transfusing the true power of the piece; and has failed but in a single place, we think, of exhibiting its meaning clearly and justly. This is in a passage towards the close, where the union of hands for labor is supposed to be a political union in the cause of liberty. Here he has been overtaken with an inadvertence, and nodded once, as Homer is said to have done before him. He has produced a gem, that is well worth polishing with new care. We have nothing further to suggest, in paying him our thanks, but to confess that it is one of our weaknesses to be punctilious about the accuracy of rhymes, and that his, in several cases, stand in need of a little smoothing of their locks.
The translation, with which the President of the Academy has favored us, is so prominent before the public, and from its great merit can bear so well a little respectful fault-finding, that we feel tempted to point out a few instances, in which we do not think he has represented distinctly the sense of the author. We noted one or two passages, that seemed to us to be of this sort, and upon which we proposed to exhibit more acuteness than we possess. But on revising them, our comments appeared rather hypercritical; so that we can easily dispense our readers from being informed what these were. We will venture, however, upon a few others.
In one case the German itself is equivocal, or at best none of the most lucid. When the thriving young husband looks abroad over his increasing possessions, he sees among the rest, "The future columns in his trees;'
that is, as we understand Mr. Eliot, trees good for making columns, well-timbered land, such as we, in New-England, have lately heard too much of. Mr. Dwight, on the other VOL. XXII. -3D S. VOL. IV. NO. II.
hand, supposes the poet to mean, trees ranged in rows, like a colonnade. To this latter exposition we were ready to give our assent; when lo! Mr. Sotheby, the celebrated translator of Wieland's Oberon, steps in, and inclines us to think that, after all, the meaning is, columns like trees;have it in his version,
"The branching columns that support
The loaded barns rang'd round the Court."
or, as we
An ingenious friend has just suggested still another interpretation of this doubtful version, of five little words,
"Siehet der Pfosten ragende Bäume."
We are sure, that after this, it is not for us to pronounce any absolute decision upon the matter.
When the fatal thunder-storm rises, come these lines;
The last line does not appear to us to express vividly enough, that the glare is unnatural, and not that of daylight. The words run literally thus ;
When the bell is fairly in the ground, and the question arises, whether it will be brought safely out, we meet the words,
"To skill and care alone 's permitted
A perfect work with toil to build."
But the language of the poet is here interrogative; "Will it come beautifully to the light, rewarding our pains and skill?" agreeing with what follows;
"Is the casting right?
Is the mould yet tight?"
The emblem of the resurrection is represented faintly, almost doubtfully, in the following lines;
"And yet more precious seed we sow
With sorrow in the world's wide field;