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one in which even the august hand of Milton did not maintain its sureness of touch, though in his sonnets to Laurence and to Cyriack Skinner he gives the express quintessence of the manner of Horace, far more perfectly than Marvell in his Ode on the Return of Oliver Cromwell from Ireland, which has been called the most Horatian poem not written by Horace. Conington sometimes treats us to a delightful reminiscence of English poetry, as in II. ix. :
The rain, it rains not every day
On the soak'd meads.
His weakness is that he sometimes introduces a thought or figure not to be found in the original, a practice to be condemned, even though the figure be in itself beautiful and poetical, as in
A spectral form Soracte stands. It is a worse fault to emulate the conceits of the Elizabethan age, as in the somewhat cruel ode to poor passée Lyce (IV. xiii.):
The white has left your teeth
And settled on your brow.
However, he does not taunt her in Gladstone's rude phrase as
Once a Aambeau, now an ash,
but more courteously deplores her as
A fire-brand, once ablaze,
Now smouldering in grey dust.
His choice of metres is very happy. We only regret that he has not made use of the In Memoriam rhythm so happily employed by Calverley in I. ix. 21 :
Hear now the pretty laugh that tells
In what dim corner lurks thy love,
And snatch a bracelet or a glove
It may be interesting, after the longer extracts, to compare the different versions of expressions which have won their way into common use, and become household words. Such is ‘simplex munditiis ' in the famous ode to Pyrrha (I. v.):
Gladstone. With simple care.
' Dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,
Dulce loquentem' (I. xxii. fin.).
I'll love them there.
Her low sweet voice, her sweeter smile.
Shall still enchant me.
I will adore.
For ever will I love.
Her prattle sweet.
'Splendide mendax '(III. xi. 35).
Through times unborn.
· Voltus nimium lubricus aspici' (I. xix. 8). Gladstone. And face Ah! perilous to view. Conington. That too fair face that blinds when look'd upon. Martin. And face too dazzling for eye to 'bide it. Latham. And look too bright for mortal eye to endure.
* Domus exilis Plutonia' (I. iv. 17).
Fheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,
Labuntur anni' (II. xiv. 1). Gladstone. Ah Postumus! Devotion fails
The lapse of gliding years to stay. Conington. Ah Postumus! They fleet away,
De Vere. Alas, my Postumus, our years
Glide silently away.
Still onwards, onwards glide. Lord Lytton. Postumus, Postumus, the years glide by us. Latham. Ah Postumus, ah Postumus, away
Glide the swift years.
* Placens uxor' (II. xiv. 21).
Winsome wife. (So Martin.)
Thy gentle wife.
' Fortiter occupa portum’ (I. xiv. 2).
O matre pulchra filia pulchrior' (I. xvi. 1).
That bore you.
* Cuius octavum trepidavit aetas
Claudere lustrum' (II. iv. fin.).
Eight my lustres,
His fortieth year.
Its fortieth year.
Odi profanum volgus et arceo' (III. i. 1).
• Divitias operosiores' (III. i. fin.).
Non sine Dis animosus infans' (III. iv. 20).
By the gods' peculiar grace
No craven-hearted child.
We might perhaps fitly conclude by giving a few examples of the earliest renderings, and one (Mr. Latham's) which we believe to be among the very latest. The first comes from the ill-fated Earl of Surrey, and was written about 1545. It is a version of II. x. ('Rectius vives '), of which we give a few lines :
Whoso gladly halseth the golden meane
Voyd of dangers advisdly hath his home
Nor palace-like wherat disdayne may glome.
With violenter swey falle turrets stepe,
A hart well stayed in overthwartes depe
Hopeth amends, in swete doth fear the soure. Under Charles I., William Cartwright, a distinguished scholar of Oxford, translated IV. xiii. (' Audivere, Lyce'), of which the following is a stanza :
Thou wert awhile the cried-up face
My Cinara being dead;
But my fair Cinara's thread
Till thou contest with th' aged daw. Milton's and Dryden's versions of single poems are so well known that we will content ourselves with a few lines of Dryden's magnificent paraphrase of III. xxix. (“Tyrrhena regum progenies '), of which it has been said that it is probably the one poem written in imitation of Horace that surpasses the original. It is a challenge to Fortune :
What is 't to me,
If the mast split and threaten wrack?
For his ill-gotten gain,
His wealth unto the main.
Who Mars in adamantine vest arrayed
Shall fitly write, or with Troy's dust asmear
Pallas, of gods the peer?
With neat-trimmed nails keen against youths to fight,
With heart as ever light.
The last stanza is happily turned by Whyte Melville, especially the pretty phrase 'vacui sive quid urimur':
Bards of the banquet's rival jests are we,
Or amorous struggles of the wanton fair,
Still merry, still devoid of care. If anyone thinks this graceful verse almost runs into numbers, let him observe how it comes out in the triscelerate octosyllabics so dear to the aged statesman :
No: me the feast, the war employs
The last verse can hardly be called English for
Non praeter solitum leves. We cannot refrain from adding the felicitous stanzas of Conington and Martin :
Feasts are my theme, my warriors maidens fair,
Who with pared nails encounter youths in fight;
Her temper still is light.
Heart-whole or pierced by Cupid's sting,
We in our airy way
To keep young men at bay.
Widely divergent in their views as to the best method of rendering the Odes of Horace, in one point the translators are agreed. Nearly all of them proclaim in their prefaces that these delightful poems are untranslatable, at least into verse. Mr. Godley, of Magdalen College, Oxford, whose masterly versions we have not quoted, as lying, like Wickham's, outside the scope of our article, which deals only with metrical versions, puts the case well :
Essays in translating the Odes metrically have never yet been crowned with any real success : they have not so far accomplished anything, save, indeed—and this is itself a gain—that they demonstrate by actual experiment the peculiar evanescence of a lyric charm which is so intimately bound up with the genius of the poet, perhaps with the Latin language itself, that it cannot survive transplantation. ... These essays will no doubt continue to amuse the leisure of scholarly dilettantists. But the result will be negligible till some really great poet gives himself to the task; and their very magnitude makes great poets too careful of their reputation to attempt a labour where failure is damaging and success, after all, would hardly immortalise.