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'the whole of the day,' are quite alien from the distinguished and refined diction of the Odes, which even avoid diminutives. Nor can we patiently endure 'poetic licences' redolent of Sternhold and Hopkins, like the omission of the article in Myrtoan wave' (compare 'Like pelican in wilderness' in the famous perversion of the Psalms), and inverted order of words, as in II. xiii. :
On evil day thou planted wast.
The version as a whole takes its place beside our English metrical version of the Psalms. The undeniable eminence of Gladstone as a speaker would lead a reader who recognises a certain kinship between political oratory and literary faculty to surmise that he might have been more successful, or certainly would not have failed so completely, if he had not disabled himself by his ill-judged attempt to abridge the syllabic length of the Latin text, and to carry compression to the furthest practicable point.' Yet sometimes we find thoughts and phrases introduced without any warrant in the text, either to achieve a supposed beauty of expression, as in The flood of thy Licymnia's hair' for crine Licymniae,' or to eke out the rhyme, as in III. xxviii., where the italicised words are due only to the translator :
and ibid. 16:
and in I. ii. 10 :
Up, Lyde, that fine juice
Then, when the hours grow dim,
The elm-tree top to fishy kind
Now Horace never thought of a harbour for fishes, which indeed would seem superfluous.
In III. i. 33 in the Latin
Contracta pisces aequora sentiunt
there is nothink' or 'spy,' as in
Their realm is less, the fishes think,
When buildings in the sea they spy.
Are we captious in seeing a ludicrous image, and recalling an occasion on which the fishes are said to have become profane under 'the sun's perpendicular heat '? Again, we are offended in
III. xxiv. 54:
Nescit equo rudis
Haerere ingenuus puer,
We are aware that in old-fashioned English to clip' means to surround, encompass,' hence (perhaps) bestride,' but in
Our highborn youth nor hunts nor rides,
we cannot but think of the accomplishment rather of a groom than of a highborn youth; while in the same ode 'filthy stuff' is solely metri gratia, like 'affront the skies' in IV. xi. 12, begun and ended' in IV. vi. 40, and 'till their blood runs icy cold' for exanimari' in III. xii. 2. On the other hand, 'splendide mendax' (III. xi. 35) is untranslated, like 'Troiae prope victor altae' (IV. vi. 3), and renidet,' almost a keynote of the ode (III. vi. 12). A strange phrase in the poem on the abduction of Europa is not so much a piece of padding as a mistranslation. Europa (III. xxvii. 38) asks herself is she awake or dreaming': vigilansne ploro
This appears as
Turpe commissum ?
Ah, the awakened sense
a sentiment which will appeal (perhaps) to the nonconformist conscience, as engender heat' for 'torrere jecur' will recommend itself to scientists.'
The choice of metres is a most essential matter in the rendering of the Odes. It is obviously incumbent on the translator to render in one and the same metre all odes which Horace has written in this or that metre, Alcaic or Sapphic or Choriambic. Gladstone repudiates this obligation on the quite insufficient ground that Horace has in many cases employed the same metre for odes the most widely divergent in subject and character. In other words, the translator is a better judge than the poet on the delicate question of the auspicious marriage of metre with matter. Gladstone's favourite rhythm is the octosyllabic, which is used effectively by Swift and Butler, and which (with variations) achieves some dignity in the oriental love-tales of Byron and the Border minstrelsy of Scott; but it is quite unsuitable to reproduce the effect of Horace's higher flights in Alcaics and Sapphics. Let us observe how mean is the octosyllabic metre of Gladstone in the fine Alcaic ode (I. xxxvii.) on the death of Cleopatra, and how the better-chosen measures of other translators have raised the tone of the poem. We give the final and loftiest stanzas:
Ausa et iacentem visere regiam
Corpore combiberet venenum.
F. L. Latham. She dared upon her palace lying low
To look with face serene; nor did she shrink
Amid her ruin'd halls she stood
Unblench'd, and fearless to the end
Conington's version of the next verse
Deliberata morte ferocior
is singularly fine:
Death's purpose flushing in her face.
Martin rises to the height of the subject in the last stanza :
Embracing death with desperate calm, that she
Might rob Rome's galleys of the royal prize,
This is surely the loftiest of the Odes. Many would crown that on Regulus (III. v.), but it is disfigured by a lamentable bathos in its last stanza.
De Vere and Conington, it will be seen, have used the same metre a stately one. Latham has chosen one longer by a foot in each line, while Martin employs a modification of the In Memoriam stanza. Gladstone alone sinks to a rhythm redolent of the nursery moral lyre:
Bill Davis was a dunce and fool,
He would not go to Sunday-school.
The famous Amoebean ode, III. ix., so much admired by a great scholar that he said he would rather be its author than be King of Spain, is better turned by Gladstone, but we have again
his favourite creeping octosyllabics. The last two stanzas are his best, though 'resign' in the third line should be resigned,' and we have never met a fickle cork. We will compare his
All the above versions, except the first, seem to have something of poetry and something of Horace. Lord Derby, it will be observed, omits levior cortice.'
We have inveighed against octosyllabics, and we must protest against one other metre used (so far as we know) only by Sir Theodore Martin, who in his other metric effects is, perhaps, the happiest of the translators. It is the tinkling cymbal of Moore. Unless the subject is weighty and serious, anapaests degenerate into doggerel, as in
I myself, wooed by one that was truly a jewel,
In thraldom was held which I cheerfully bore,
The same rhythm has utterly vulgarised the pretty ode to Xanthias Phoceus (II. iv.). Surely hardly anything could be more alien than this from the distinguished manner of the Horatian Odes. Yet Martin is one of the best translators, disputing (in our opinion) the primacy with De Vere and Conington. As examples of the art of these three, we would offer, in addition to extracts already made, the following characteristic specimens. De Vere and Martin are champions of freedom, and never bald. Conington is wonderfully successful in steering clear of the reefs of baldness while hugging the shore of the text :
'Felices ter et amplius' (I. xiii. 17).
Are they whom true affection binds,
'Somnus agrestium' (III. i. 21). Sleep hovers with extended wing
Above the roof where labour dwells,
Or where the river murmuring
Ripples beneath the beechen shade,
No sound save Zephyr's breath throbs thro' the silver
'Irae Thyesten' (I. xvi. 17).
Conington. 'Twas wrath that laid Thyestes low;
'Tis wrath that oft destruction calls
On cities, and invites the foe
To drive his plough o'er ruin'd walls.
On the whole, perhaps, Conington is the most successful of those who have essayed what many would call an impossible feat,