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of my most generous critics of that work-yet one of those who must be really pleased before he will praise-expressed a hope that I "might be induced to give a complete translation of Camoens' minor works," not even this flattering invitation would have moved me to as much as my present effort, had it not been that, while sojourning with you last winter at Cairo, you had engaged me to daily afternoon readings with you of your first sketches of Translations of all the CCCLII Sonnets as published by our friend, the Visconde de Juromenha; not only the whole of which, but also those of the Cañcoes, Sextinas, Odes, and Oitavas besides, it is your intention some day to give to the world.
Such a work as this, for more reasons than one, I never could attempt. I need not repeat to you what we have so often discussed in conversation, all my grounds for holding (so far, at all events, as my own art is concerned) that the great majority of these compositions, as well as of the sonnets, are entirely beyond the reach of rhythmic translation. This essential reason, however, I may mention that without the music of the particular language in which so many of them are writtenthe music being sometimes more cared for than
the ideas it chants-I could not reproduce, to my own satisfaction, either the feeling of the poet, or a pleasant poem in English, or one that could be read by the side of the original. These objections neither you nor I have found to exist in translating the great Epic; some parts of which, and even in some few studied descriptions, we both know to be somewhat unmusical, but the whole of which, particularly when rendered in corresponding rhyme and metre, is fairly within the scope of our language. Nor have I found them to exist in regard to any of the seventy sonnets that I have now selected and translated.
I should be bold, perhaps, in hoping for these the same amount of favour that attended my "Lusiads;" yet to my own mind they do not appear to have been less successfully treated; and certainly 'I have not bestowed less care upon them; for if the task has been less arduous, it has required much careful manipulation. In their case, moreover, I have had the advantage of our reading them over and discussing them together; an advantage of which I could not avail myself for my translation of the "Lusiads," the whole of which (with the exception of receiving some very few occasional suggestions from friends) I was called on to carry through entirely alone.
I must not, however, omit to mention that your own determination to complete a translation of this work (now lately published, with your Commentary to follow), and your encouragement to me not to be deterred by the mere fact that such a production could never be generally popular, considerably contributed to the final accomplishment of my labours. The task of my present translations has been, as were the "Lusiads," a constant source of interest and occupation; often a refuge in times of vacancy or bad weather; and for the sake of pleasant recollections of my own, I have noted at the bottom of each sonnet where it was composed; realising in this respect the well-known phrase of Cicero: "Hæc studia . . . delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, perigrinantur, rusticantur."
It is not worth while to crowd this volume with too much introductory matter, but I may further remark that as neither you nor I would have undertaken to translate the "Lusiads" had we thought that work already fairly done, so we may say the same as regards the Sonnets. I cannot accept, and I am sure you cannot, the two or three that have fallen from the several pens of Southey, Adamson, and Hayley. Especially I cannot accept
of Lord Strangford's twenty. To these last, Lord Byron's observation is the best that can be applied, without the necessity of adding his poetical anathema: "It is also to be remarked that the things given to the public as poems of Camoens are no more to be found in the original Portuguese than in the Song of Solomon." What you and I have always had in view, in treating our great poet, has been this to study his truthfulness and his simplicity, and to endeavour to render him faithfully ; not riding off from his occasional peculiar turns of thought, in order, covertly, to avoid difficulties, nor introducing some commonly received parochial phrases, instead of his own peculiar expressions; especially not affecting to be very poetical where he is not poetical at all. No former translators of Camoens have ever shown sufficient respect for their author to confine themselves to these rules.
As regards the sonnet itself, I doubt whether it is, or ever will be, a really popular form of poem in the English language, and I almost venture to doubt, also, whether our language is exactly suitable for it. Byron hated sonnets, and called them "the most puling, petrifying, stupidly platonic compositions." Wordsworth wrote numbers of
them, with a sonnet in defence of the sonnet, thus showing, by the way, that he thought defence was needed. Sonnet writers, however, have never failed to appear among us, and the subject seems to-day to be attracting more than usual attention. Indeed, the edition of Lord Strangford's "Poems from the Portuguese of Luiz de Camoens before me, is the fifth, and may not, for aught I know, be the latest; and so far I may be encouraged. But I must candidly say, that if the popularity of his lordship's work, which is thus indicated, arose from the mere English poems themselves as he published them, then Camoens, honestly translated, may not stand an equal chance of being as popular as Lord Strangford; for there is scarcely a trace of the original, in either thought or phrase, in Lord Strangford's compositions. I do not, however, believe it will be thus. Camoens' Sonnets, faithfully interpreted, letter and spirit, will be quite new to the English ear, and, I anticipate, will be pleasing; though anything pertaining to the Portuguese language is confessedly but little known or thought of among us.
A curious fact in our literature, only lately made known to me, will serve to illustrate what I have just now said. I had heard of, but in my ignorance