صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

For the loan of several manuscript poems by Mr. Jackson, which now lie before us, we are indebted to the kindness of more than one obliging friend; and the extracts with which we are permitted to adorn our pages, will amply bear us out in assigning to him a very considerable share of poetic talent; but they also prove that his intercourse with the muse was rather an affair of gallantry, than of absolute and entire devotion. He wrote upon the impulse of occasion, for the amusement of himself and friends, and does not appear to have occupied himself at any time in a task that might hare called into exercise his utmost strength. If an exception may be made to this remark, it will perhaps apply to some fragments of a translation of Dante; these are much more elaborate than any of his other compositions, and give us sufficient cause to regret that he was prevented from completing the whole, if such were ever his intention : for he has certainly been more successful in transferring the stern and simple grandeur, and unaffected pathos of the original, into the English language, than any other translator with whom we areacquainted.

As it is from these fragments of a translation of Dante, that the poetical talent of Mr. Jackson can alone be justly appreciated, we shall extract entire the two well known episodes of Francesca of Rimini, and of Count Ugolino ; and we venture to stake our reputation upon the issue, that they will be found to sarpass in excellence any other translations of the same exquisite originals that may be brought against them in comparison. The recent version of Dante, by Mr. Cary, is highly esteemed for its correctness and fidelity : the

passages we are about to produce do not certainly

possess the very elose rendering of that version, but we are mistaken if they be not better specimens of English poetry. They are free from harshness, and studied inversion ; obsolete words are not sought, nor are they avoided ; the general flow of the verse is melodious, and the pathetic passages are given with sweetness and effect. The blank verse of Mr. Cary affords no idea of the peculiar rhyme of the Italian, which is here retained with much felicity and grace, and certainly with the greatest propriety; the object of translation being to convey as nearly as possible, into another language, every peculiarity of the original. A translator has not the same excuse

plead in the instance of rendering an Italian poet into English, as may be advanced when occupied with Greek or Roman authors, Homer and Virgil may be tolerated in any form of verse consistent with the poetic character of a modern language, simply because it is impossible to imitate the prosody of the originals; and by a parity of reasoning, Dante can never be said to be justly rendered into English in any other form than in the rhyme which he has himself adopted, because that rhyme sits gracefully upon our language. Early translators of modern poetry, among whom we may rank that ornament of our county, Sir Thomas Wyatt, invariably acted upon this principle, and to their practice, no doubt, we owe the many beautiful varieties of Italian metre which are now adopted and naturalised in our language.

The other poems of Mr. Jackson do not call for much remark. If not greatly elevated above mediocrity, they certainly indicate a beautiful, cultivated, and well regulated mind. To him and to them a stanza of

Cunningham's Pastoral, on the death of Shenstone, may justly be applied :

* They call'd him the pride of the plain,

Io sooth he was gentle and kind;
He mark'd in his elegant strain,

The graces that glow'd in his mind."

The hell of guilty lovers, and story of Francesca ;

from the fifth canto of Dante's Inferno." Now doleful cries of anguish strike my ear,

For now we pass where scenes of woe abound, And shrieks of horror fill the troubled air.

Light was there none; 'twas night: and all around The wild air bellow'd, as when roars amain

The sweepy whirlwind o'er the vex'd profoand. Th'infernal storin still whirls the tortur'd train

Around in air, and knows no calm benign, Still varying as it blows the forms of pain :

And, hurld o'er Hades' rifted gulf, they join In shrieks of accent sharp and horrid sound;

And with dire oaths blaspheme the ways divine. The still vex'd shades, which tortur'd thus I found With these fierce storms, with carpal crimes were

stain's, And reason's voice in sensual joys bad drown'd.

And as the storks their level wings expand, And fly in swarms when wintry tempests blow,

So these dread gales impel the tortur'd band This way and that, around, above , below :

“ What shades are these," with wooder mov'd I cried,

" Who prove the furious tempests utmost might?

« The first of these tormented forms,” replied

The courteous bard, was once to fame well known, The potent queen of many a region wide :

But she, to every lust so blindly prone, Encourag d vice to spread o'er all her plains,

By other's crimes to justify her own :
Semiramis her name, in wedlock's chain

To Syrian Ninus bound, his wife and heir;
She reign'd where now the warlike Soldan reigas.'

Next she, the slayer of herself, was there,
Through love unfaithful to Sichæus dead:

And Cleopatra next, lascivious fair!
Then Helen's form I saw, the fountain dread

Of woes unnumber'd; and condemn’d to prove
Through life love's sharpest ills Achille's shade ;

Paris and Tristan's forms ;-and, known above, Of many a Knight and many a Nymph he told,

And nam'd them as he told, who died for love. While thus high dames and valrous chiefs of old

My master shew'd me, whom these storms assail, I wept for grief;—'was piteous to behold!

O you, that guide me through this darksome vale, “ Fain would I speak," I cried, “ with yonder pair,

That with such swiftness flit before the gale,” And thus he answer'd :-" when they pass more near,

Speak, and adjure them by that tender tie, Sad source of all their woe, and they shall bear;

Borne by the whirlwind nearer when they fly, Accost them :-" stay, ye shades depriv'd of rest,

And speak, unless some secret power deny,"So when the wand'ring ring-dove's gentle breast

Feels soft paternal love, with wing display'd, She darts through air and hastens to her nest :

Thus from the group where flew sad Dido's shade, Came the fond lovers through the gloom profound;

So sweet, so grateful were the words I said. “O you whose gentle eyes diffuse around

Compassion's beams, who breathe this noxious air To visit us, whose blood distain'd the ground;

Glad would we pray, if heav'n would hear our pray'r, To guard and guide thee safe from every ill,

Since you regard our woes with piteous care. And see, we come, obedient to your will,

And we will hear or speak as you request, Whilst favouring thus th' infernal storm is still.

The land where first light's genial splendour blest My ivfant eyes, lies where the lordly Po

Seeks, with his streams, repose in ocean's breast : Love, which in gentle heart will quickly grow,

Taught this fond youth for these fair charms to burn, Which murder ravag'd :-still the thought is woe!

And love, which still requires a like return, In my fond bosom such affection bred,

That still I feel it in this dire sojourn. We to one common end by love were led,

The hell of Cain awaits the wretch that slew." These few sad words the troubled spirit said :

But when their sufferings and their names I knew, With dow cast eyes, in speechless grief I wait Until


master cried ;-"what thoughts of woe Disturb thee?" I replied: "ah ruthless fate!

How many tender thoughts, and wishes fair, Led these sad lovers to this dolesome state !"

I spoke, and, turning to the mournful pair; “ Francesca," I begun,

your matchless woes sad

eyes wih lears, my soul with care :

Fill my

« السابقةمتابعة »