« السابقةمتابعة »
To ailing wise, or wailing infancy
“ Ranging round to spy Or old bedridden palsy."
The weakness of a people or a house,
Like flies that haunt a wound, or deer, or The lovers' parting after their secret
men, has been discovered by Edith's pa- Or almost all that is, hurting the hurtrents is also pretty :
Save Christ as we believe ilim-found the
girl, “ The rain of heaven, and their own bitter And flung her down upon a couch of fire, tears,
Where, careless of the household faces near, Tears, and the careless rain of heaven, mixt And crying upon the name of Leolin, Upon their faces, as they kiss'd each other She, and with her the race of Aylmer, In darkness, and above them roar'd the past." pine."
A noble passage that. The simile But then comes the secret corres- is at once new and appropriate, and pondence,-those letters hidden in the divine beauty of the exception the old oak-tree, that poor cripple stands out in stronger relief from bribed to deceive his lord,-and its dark background. How good. the aggrieved father claims some too, is the description of the day of of our pity ; for not all the harsh the funeral sermon! colours which paint to us his pride
“ Darkly that day rose: and his wife's insipidity can satisfy Autumn's mock sunshine of the faded us that their only child did right to woods slight their wishes. Edith's father
Was all the life of it; for hard on these,
A breathless burthen of low-folded hearens rages over the intercepted letters: Stifled and chilld at once." « Now chafing at his own great self defied, What day fitter for sorrow than Now striking on huge stumbling-blocks of scorn
one which derives its very brightIn babyisms, and dear diminutives," &c. ness from decay! The sermon itself
is fine ; too fine in one sense; for and, as we must say, not wholly un
how could the rustics who listened provoked. It is very trying even to it have understood its difficult to a friendly mind to read other
constructions and involved senpeople's love-letters. What must tences? But there is grandeur in it be to a hostile one? We can its stern denunciations of the idolaourselves scarcely forgive those tries of worldliness. There is burn“dear diminutives.” We may hope ing power in the words which brand that these unlucky epistles contained
that worshipper of self, whose flesh none worse than Leo, Edy, and the
“Fares richly, in fine linen, . like; but the expression reminds
even while us painfully of the style of certain the deathless ruler of thy dying house letters (rather amusing than in- Is wounded to the death that cannot die; structive) which get every now and Thee' therefore with. His light about the then published, to the confusion of
feet, their writers. In the last century Thee with His message ringing in thine letter-writing was a stately, grave, ears, and formal thing, even amongst
Thee shall thy brother man, the Lord from
Heaven, near relations. And we have no Born of a village girl, carpenter's son, doubt that a gentleman of ancient Wonderful, Prince of Peace, the Mighty family like Leolin, and the heiress - God, of the good-breeding, though not of Count the more base idolater of the two." the pride, of the Aylmers, could The transition from the severity of write to one another without for- these words to the gentle tones of getting the established proprieties lamentation over the dead is very of their day.
beautiful; eminently so when the Let us pass on to Edith's death. preacher describes her as Her parents are in some degree "Fairer than Rachel by the palmy well, guilty of it, for their unkindness Fairer than Ruth among the fields of corn, has broken the young spirit's elas. Fair as the Angel that said Hail!' she ticity, which, if happier, might have
Who entering filled the house with sudden conquered that low fever, which,
With what sublime effect, too, does Imbecile ; his one word was 'desolate;' the preacher later on direct the Dead for two years before his death was
he." gaze of his awe-stricken hearers to the horrors overtaking the lovers We are not told with what feelings of this world in a neighbouring the Rector read the funeral-service country at that very hour :
over the two parishioners whom he "O there
had insulted in their sorrow. The red fruit of an old idolatry
We have not quoted by any The heads of chiefs and princes fall so fast, They cling together in the ghastly sack
" means all the passages we admire The land all shambles-naked marriages in 'Aylmer's Field.' In point of exFlash from the bridge, and ever-murdered ecution, the more we consider this
poem, the higher it rises in our eswolf,
timation. Nevertheless we cannot Runs in a river of blood to the sick sea." help regarding its conclusion as a And there is mournful dignity in fresh proof that among the Laurethe sorrow, overpowering anger,
ate's many gifts, strong perceptions which denounces the final woe upon
of dramatic fitness are not the most the heartless parents:
conspicuous. Averill's Sermon
doubtless contains exactly what a “Will there be children's laughter in their
man, situated as he was, could not hall For ever and for ever, or one stone
help thinking ; but no less certainLeft on another, or is it a light thing ly what a gentleman and a ChrisThat I, their guest, their host, their ancient tian would, when the mischief was friend,
done and the punishment had fallen, I made by these the last of all my race, Must cry to these the last of theirs, as cried have scrupulously refrained from Christ ere His agony to those that swore publicly expressing. Why pour the Not by the temple but the gold, and made molten lead of those fierce denunTheir own traditions God, and slew the Lord,
ciations into wounds yet deeper And left their memories a world's curse-- than his own? Why smite those 'Behold,
afresh, whom God had smitten so Your house is left unto you desolate ?""
terribly already? The preacher, The bereaved mother sinks beneath arising from his own desolate hearth, the weight of these words, and is like a Prophet of old, to denounce borne fainting from the church. the crime which has laid it waste, The father, who in the earlier part is unquestionably a grandly tragic of the discourse,
figure. But a deeper sense of the “When it seem'd he saw proprieties of character might have No pale sheet-lightnings from afar, but enabled its possessor to attain this
fork'd Of the near storm, and aiming at his head,
fine effect without that perilous apSat anger-charmed from sorrow, soldier
proach to the unreal and to the like,
theatrical, by which, as it appears Erect:""
to us, it has been purchased in the follows her out,
present instance. “ Tall and erect, but in the middle aisle
It is time to bestow a glance on Reeld, as a footsore ox in crowded ways, the metrical experiments and preStumbling across the market to his death." cious bit of Homeric translation And then we read that,
which form a sort of appendix to “In one month,
the volume. They will be a suitThro' weary and yet ever wearier bours, able introduction to our brief notice The childless mother went to seek her of the poem which we reserve as
our favourite to the last, the place And when he felt the silence of his
f his house About him, and the change and not the
of honour. change,
The question whether any, and And those fixt eyes of painted ancestors if any, which, of the Greek metres, Staring for ever from their gilded walls On him their last descendant, his own
yet unnaturalised, is capable of
" being permanently transplanted to Began to droop, to fall; the man became the English Parnassus, has engaged
our great poets from the days of rhymed Iambic, the metre of the Spenser and Milton. It interests greatest English epic. The Spena very considerable section of the serian stanza has of late been skilreading public at the present time. fully applied to the rendering of the So, too, the lovers of the poets are 'Odyssey.' To others the fire of the inquiring, more and more eagerly, original seems best represented in what is the fittest form in which to the long ballad-metres of fourteen or present the classical masterpieces to fifteen syllables, which are certainly the modern reader ? Now on both in point of length the hexameter's these questions Mr Tennyson has a English equivalents. For each of good right to be heard. A master these views there is a good deal to of the English language, there are be said ; and we gladly take this few now living who know its capa- opportunity of wishing all success bilities as he does. Many a passage to the versatile hand which has in his poems testifies to his power lately given us a specimen of of entering into the spirit of Homer. a translation of the “Iliad' in His 'Enone' and his ‘Lotos-Eaters' the last named metre (that of bear witness that he can suffuse the Locksley Hall).* Let us also demarble forms of classic song with voutly hope that similar good works the warm glow of modern feeling. may continue to employ that hand And therefore his verdict on the so well, that it may have no leisbest method of reproducing the ure for the political “mischief” beauties of the ancient poets in which a nameless being is only English, deserves our most serious too ready to find it to do when attention. So it is with great plea- “idle!” sure that we find ourselves able to certainly a complete translation quote the Laureate as an authority of the 'Iliad' which should match against the perpetration of English that in the volume before us of hexameters. It is, we suppose, un- the conclusion of its eighth book, questionable that the translation of would leave little to be desired. a poem should always be executed We cannot exhibit its excellence in in the same metre as the original, a stronger point of view than by provided that it is a metre which printing a few lines of it side by exists (or is capable of existing) in side with Pope's version of the same the language into which the transla- passage; with an assurance to the tion is made. If, then, hexameters English reader that, except the are a proper form of English verse, omission of one epithet, paelvny into them should Homer undoubt (shining, radiant), applied to the edly be translated. If, on the other moon, Mr Tennyson's is literally hand, the substitution of accent for exact. He will thus, on comparing quantity in modern languages has the two, have ocular proof of the made true English hexameters im- strange liberties which Pope took possible, we must fall back on the with his original, and of his want metre we should conceive Homer of feeling for its beauties; whilst would have most likely chosen had he will admire the precisely oppohe written in English. Mr Tenny- site qualities of the Laureate as a son imagines him using the un- translator of Homer :
« The troops exulting sat in order round, And beaming fires illumined all the ground. As when the moon, refulgent lamp of
"And these all night upon the bridget of
war Sat glorying; many a fire before them
* It is surprising that the writer of an otherwise able article in the Saturday Review,' should have confounded Mr Gladstone's Trochaics of fifteen syllables with Chapman's Iambics of fourteen. The effect of the two lines is of course much the same to the eye, but to the ear they differ very greatly indeed.
+ We are inclined to accept the alternative offered to us of "ridge." It seems O'er heaven's clear azure spreads her As when in heaven the stars about the sacred light,
moon When not a breath disturbs the deep Look beautiful, when all the winds are serene,
laid, And not a cloud o'ercasts the solemn And every height comes out, and jutting scene;
peak Around her throne the vivid planets roll, And valley, and the immeasurable heavens And stars unnumbered gild the glowing Break open to their highest, and all the stars pole,
Shine, and the shepherd gladdens in his O'er the dark trees a yellower verdure heart : shed,
So many a fire between the ships and
light. So many flames before proud Ilion blaze ; And lighten glimmering Xanthus with
their rays," &c. It will be seen at once that Pope's is hard to say of what, but perhaps theory of the duties of a translator of the fine stage-illumination prois to improve on, Tennyson's to vided for them; and having eyed, preserve, his original. And what proceed to bless for the useful light shall we say of the sort of tinsel it affords them. A great improvewith which the former gilds the ment, forsooth, on Homer's lonely refined gold, or the somewhat shepherd, unconsciously made glad, coarse colours with which he paints in his rustic simpleness, by the the lily, of Homer's beautiful sim- starry heavens, without stopping to plicity? loading each substantive ask of what use they are to him ! with an epithet, and piling up ex- It is strange to see more ignorance traneous particulars, till Homer's of the aspects of nature in the nine lines have grown into sixteen; writer of Sir Isaac Newton's epiand till his night-piece (to the taph, than in the oldest of profane great loss of the reader) has been authors. Assuredly the generation entirely replaced by Pope's? In for whom Pope composed this Pope the fires have become beaming, fancy picture could have cared the heavens azure, the moon the little for natural beauty. Now refulgent lamp of night, without the turn to Tennyson's version. It is slightest authority. Nonsense is just one line longer than its original : talked about the planets, which no longer at all, considering the are set rolling round the moon different length of the lines. It after a fashion strange alike to the attempts the insertion of no new peasant and the philosopher. The beauties ; but how felicitously does stars perform functions as unknown it preserve those which exist! How to Homer as to us; apparently little does it spill of the noble darting yellow and silvery rays al- Chian wine in the dangerous transternately, according to unknown ference from goblet to goblet ! chemical affinities with the objects There is one point we feel scarcely on which they fall. But where is satisfied upon : the very unusual the crowning glory of the passage, position of the verb gladden, here the Cometos aionp of Homer? It is turned from an active to an intranshut out from our view by the hard, sitive. It seems to us peculiarly metallic, blue vault which Pope's a translator's business to employ conscious swains eye ; conscious it the English which exists, and not
more really what Homer meant, and to give a grander image. In the two last lines, which our comparison does not require us to quote, we think chariots preferable to cars, but would wish the more literal “throned morn" (why not fair. throned-morn?) inserted.
to coin new English for his own man wishes; but none more impurposes. But otherwise we have pressive than this one. Tithonus not a fault to find. We especially has prayed for endless life : he has admire the words in italics. How forgotten to ask at the same time admirably they succeed in setting for unending happiness. His bliss open (like their original) those has ended, but his life continues, heavens of heavens, which a clear Change has done her worst upon night shows us, to our raptured him, and is forbidden to compengazes !
sate his injuries by her last boon, As to Mr Tennyson's other “ex- death. His latest prayers are unperiments," we feel they deserve a heard, through the fatal success friendly reception, by the very fact of his earlier. When the last of their owning themselves to be great poet of Rome has completed such. Some of our poets feel no his survey of prayers, granted in compunction in showering similar like manner to their offerer's decompositions on the unsuspecting struction, he pauses, and bids men public, without the faintest hint cease from their vain supplications, that they are not established forms since the gods love us better than of English verse. Still we cannot we love ourselves. But this noble say that 'Boadicea' is an experiment sentiment belongs to those latter which we should like to see repeat days of the ancient world, when the ed; as, to our ear, its somewhat reflected beams of the true Sun loose Trochees stand much in need were beginning to enlighten its of rhyme, to distinguish them from darkness. Greek legend teaches awkward prose. Nor do we much the direct contrary. Its gods are mind whether the Laureate “floun- either too careless or too ignorant der” with or “without a tumble to secure the happiness of those through his metrification of Catul- whom they favour most. Eos can lus.” But his ‘Ode to Milton,' with but lament the fatal effects of her its graceful alliterations and stately gift; she cannot recall it. Even march, is surely as fine a specimen by making her weep, as he does, of English Alcaics as can be ima- over her husband's anguish, Mr gined ; though its author is perhaps Tennyson may seem to some to right in relegating a form of com- have incorrectly imported modern position which only scholars can feeling into the ancient story he is fully appreciate, to his appendix. treating of. The well-known words It is worthy of a place near Milton's which pass between Artemis and own Pyrrha. Both grand ; neither the dying Hippolytus in Euripides,* quite English, yet each majestic in might seem to forbid the represenits exotic beauty.
tation of a god in tears, as opposed If, however, Mr Tennyson does to the Hellenic conception of deity. not encourage poets to try to trans- Such, in truth, was the conclusion plant classic metres into English, which the Greek mind arrived at, except as an occasional pastime, he when it set itself to reason on the gives us in this volume a noble in- traditions which it had at first restance of the true use to which a ceived without inquiry. Man's poet should put his knowledge of strong disposition to worship Power the ancients, by his ‘Tithonus. Its rather than Love, made the Greek subject is profoundly pathetic. It (while “ with his own worse self he is the supplication of Tithonus to clothed his god") deprive the objects Eos to remove from him the burden of his adoration of what even the of an immortality, embittered by fierce satirist has styled “ nostri pars the infirmities of age. Ancient optima sensus." But Tennyson's legend contains many similar ex- "Tithonus' belongs to an earlier emplifications of the vanity of hu- epoch — to the day when the
* “Hip. Queen, seest thou me, the wretched, how I suffer?
Art. Yes: but with eyes from which no tear may fall.'