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ing, we find that he brings with him a new element which he has worked out for himself proprio Marte, and introduced into language as the proper representative of his peculiar poweran element which in all ages has been that in which poets have lived, and breathed, and had their being; we mean the element of metre, an element which, in a language like ours, assumes, as its truest and most expressive shape, the form of rhyme.
Metre, therefore, and more particularly and properly rhyme, is introduced into language for the purpose of representing that which ought to pervade and be made visible in all good poetry-the will of the artist. It is used, not because the natural passions and feelings of the human heart are best and most truly depicted in this form of style, (for this is by no means the case,) but because it brings palpably before us the active power which the artist exercises over these materials. It affords the most striking and definite form in which that active power can be exhibited. But here we must pause, to consider the situation of the reader or hearer. No doubt, at first sight the great and only end of poetry appears to be, to delineate man's passions, feelings, &c., exactly as they exist in nature. first sight, therefore, the reader, expecting these to be represented identically as they are, and in the very language in which nature would utter them, is naturally revolted by rhyme, regarding it as an element which represents no authentic or even existing constituent in man-an uncalled-for impertinence an unnecessary irrelevancy-a gratuitous appendage grafted by the artist upon the proper ma terials of poetry, and having no business there. But this is the case with the reader only at first sight, and when he judges without any degree of reflection. By-and-by he comes to see, that grounded in our very constitution as human beings, there is and ought necessarily to be a great difference between our expression of our own passions, &c., as nature provides us with them, and our expression of the passions, &c., of other men, inasmuch as in the latter case volition must be present, though not in the
and then he discovers that it
is not the end of poetry to represent man's passions and feelings exactly as they are. Because, if poetry merely
did this, it would omit one of its own proper elements-it would give voice merely to our own passions as nature supplies them, (an utterance never held to be poetry,) but it would leave unexpressed the volition which always is and must be present when the passions of others are to be depicted. The reader, therefore, is brought to admit that the poet has a real authentic element which he is called upon to represent, besides the more obvious materials of his art—the passions and feelings of human nature-he has, namely, his own will. The reader is further brought, by a very moderate share of reflection, to admit that the language of nature merely enables us to express our instincts, passions, &c., exactly as they are, and that for any thing over and above this, she is dumb: and thereupon he is carried a step still further, namely, to the admission that the artist is not only entitled, but is under a positive obligation, to do violence to the language of nature, in order that he may be enabled to introduce into it a certain kind of voice or utterance by which that real and peculiar element of his power-viz. his will— may be expressed; and thus the reader is brought to admit that, upon second thoughts, rhyme may be at least tolerated.
But the bargain between the reader and the poet is not yet fairly ratified and brought to a conclusion. The reader has been brought to bear with what originally and naturally repelled him the rhymes of the artist. But whether he will continue to practise this toleration, and moreover to derive positive gratification from their presence, yet remains to be seen, and depends upon circumstances-which circumstances are, that the rhymes shall be found to represent fairly, faithfully, and completely, that which they were brought forward to representnamely, the will of the poet. Now, will, unless it exhibit itself in triumph, is not will at all. Will defeated is will non-existent, and this certainly is not entitled to any representative in language. But we can only determine whether the artist's will has been triumphant or defeated, by looking to its visible exponent-rhyme-and seeing whether this is victorious over the difficulties of its position, or the reverse. If, then, we find any of the other proprieties of language sacrificed on its account, or any unnatural ar
rangement of words laid before us, we immediately hold that the rhyme is miserably beaten; consequently that the artist's will is a baffled nonentity that the rhyme, instead of standing forth as the representative of his will, victorious in the midst of all obstacles, does, in fact, represent nothing whatsoever; but hangs as a clog upon his composition, lending to it additional disfigurement. In this case the reader is at once off from the bargain. The artist's work is hateful to him, and his rhymes make it only still more detestable.
Woe, therefore, to the poet who, in the exercise of his vocation, invades the sequence in which words naturally arrange themselves in his vernacular tongue, or violates in any other way the correct conversational usages of speech. When we consented to tolerate his rhymes, we understood him to come under a contract to exhibit to us the element for the sake of which we agreed to put up with them, and moreover to exhibit it to us faithfully. But will can only be exhibited to us faithfully, or as a real existence, when we see it exercising a consummate mastery over all its materials, the feelings, the passions, and above all the language of humanity-voluntarily, and for the sake of declaring its own reality,multiplying the difficulties of the latter, and at the same time preserving all its proper usages entire. But now, in perverting the idiom of speech, the artist has broken through this contract. Woe, therefore, to him; for from henceforth he is a literary outcast. Poetry casts him off, and plain prose turns her back upon the rhyming drudge.
On the other hand, whenever we find any real ingredient of humanity fairly and fully represented in language, our gratification is extreme. When, therefore, the artist proves the reality and supremacy of his will, and represents this in true and bright colours, by introducing rhyme into language without violating any correct customary norma loquendi, any rule of pure idiomatic discourse-running along the whole compass of speech-in no respect altering its natural tenor, but tipping its points with emphasis and fire; then, but only then, do we hail his performances with delight. He has now put forward his volition as a real permanent and victorious existence-he has faith
fully represented that which, as we have already said, is the differential or peculiar ingredient of poetical genius. Having deserted nature' for the purpose of finding an articulate voice for an element not supplied by nature, and for which her language afforded no utterance-to wit, his own will-he has again returned into the bosom of nature with his found treasure, (rhyme, namely,) and he will violate her prerogatives no more. On the contrary, glorying and proud in the freedom of his self-imposed fetters, he will prove his mastery over her language by walking in all its usual ordinances more strictly and blamelessly than before. He, and he alone, who conceives his vocation in this spirit, is the true poetical artist. And now we have answered, as far as our present limits permit, the question we have been engaged upon, and have shown how and why rhyme ever comes to give us pleasure.
We must now turn to the transla
tions before us. If tried by the principles we have been contending for, we think that there is hardly a page in any one of them that could for a moment stand-so barbarous and often so ludicrous are the stratagems they play off upon language, and also upon thought, for the sake of hitching in their rhymes. Perhaps we have been uttering hard sayings-perhaps it may be thought that a poetical translation of any work upon the terms we propose, is altogether an impossible achievement. Perhaps it may be; but if it is, then we think it better that there should be no poetical translations, than that they should be ob tained at the sacrifice of the conditions we have stated; for, if purchased at this price, they can never be any thing but burdens and encumbrances upon the literature of the country which imports them. To make amends, however, for our strictness on this point, and by way of encouraging future translators of "Faust," or any similar work, we may add, that we are inclined to accord to them much greater latitude in translating than they are generally supposed entitled to exercise. There are occasions upon which they cannot adhere too closely to the text of their author; but in general we should allow them to take what liberties they pleased with his mere words, and to deviate from him as widely as they chose, provided they
were guilty of no violence towards the idiom of their vernacular tongue, nor towards the spirit of the original work. In most cases, this cannot be brought out in a foreign tongue, without an entire abandonment of the words from which the translation is made. Therefore, we confess that in general we are no sticklers for literal faithfulness of interpretation, and beg to remind those who are, that their translations, like copies of a marble inscription taken in clay, may be extremely and even curiously faithful, while they yet exactly reverse every character of the original.
Closing these observations upon the necessity under which we think a translator lies, of being more than usually strict in his adherence to the idiom, the simplicity, and the ordinary conversational arrangement of his vernacular tongue, particularly when his work has to be executed in rhyme, we now proceed to illustrate our remarks, and to comment practically upon specimens extracted from the translations before us.
Although not in our list, we shall commence with Shelley, both on account of his greater poetical reputation, and because he was the first who led the way by translating certain portions of this drama. We quote his version of the ode chanted by the three archangels in the opening scene -a composition which, in the original, appears to us to be one of the most sublime strains that ever fell from the lips or the pen of a mortal man. The reader is probably aware that, in imitation of the opening scene in Job, the prologue of Faust is transacted in heaven. All the heavenly host are present the three archangels come forward:
In this translation various dramatic
proprieties belonging to the situation of the speakers are found to be violated. Let us observe what this situation is. The archangels must be supposed to be standing on some sort of aërial platform in the skies, and are magnificence of worlds. They then contemplating from afar the rolling commence to describe not simply what they know to be the case, but what is actually passing before their eyes. All their remarks are uttered
Ts, that is, in a dramatically demonstrative manner. With regard, then, to Raphael's first observation, that "the sun makes music,"—or, as it would be better and more literally rendered, "sounds," we remark that this is a very feeble and essentially undramatic manner of conveying what he really says. He does not merely mean to state the abstract fact, that the sun "makes music' "sounds," but he breaks forth with an emphatic declaration of what he hears and sees actually taking place at that very time; namely, that the sun is sounding, or (if it must be so expressed)" is making musit." In the German language this form of expression is never used; but we, who have it, ought always to employ it when we are describing an event actually transacting before our eyes; for the dramatic effect of our description wholly depends upon its use. Other instances of this fault may be observed running through the whole version; but we need not particularise them further. In the fourth line, we think that "thunder speed" is wrong. Speed is not intended to be alluded to at all in this stanza; it is reserved as the predominant characteristic of the next. In Raphael's strain, the feeling
meant to be conveyed is that of abiding beauty, and calm, unintermitting power. "Thunder strength" would be better. In the same line (to say nothing of the marring of the versification, which ought to have been fully closed at the end of it, and not broken in the middle) the interpolation of the word even (for which there is no countenance in the original) would, of itself, be sufficient to sink the whole version down into Tartarus, even though the rest of it were really steeped in the richest melody that ever flowed from angelic lips. "Though none its meaning fathom may," is an inversion of ordinary syntax which we cannot bring ourselves to consider allowable. However, "the world's unwithered countenance is bright as at (on?) creation's day," fully makes amends for it, and strikes us as extremely beautiful, though very different from the words of the original. By "the world," however, we must understand not the earth merely, but, as the original has it, all "the inconceivably high works" of God.
In the second stanza, Gabriel takes up the note which Raphael had struck, and proceeds to describe his impressions of the gigantic ongoings of the universe. As Raphael had called attention principally to the sun, and made the feeling of serene power the predominant feature of his song; so now Gabriel singles out the earth as the great object of his description, and makes the feeling of unimaginable swiftness the ruling affection of our souls. In the original description before us, we wish to point out one image in particular-in our opinion a very important and picturesque one-which has never yet been brought out, or apparently even seen by any translator. It is contained in the third and fourth lines-lines which, though faithful enough in Shelley's version to
the original, as far as the mere words are concerned, by no means body forth or give any sort of colour to the picture spoken of.
"Alternating Elysian brightness
With deep and dreadful night." Surely this cannot merely mean that our earth is visited alternately by day and by night. The statement of such a truism would be unworthy of any great poet. What more, then, than this is contained or depicted in the original words? Reader! you shall see. Just suppose yourself standing on the point of view from which Gabriel is looking, that the sun is shining in all his glory, and that the earth, at a great distance, is whirling along before your eyes with inconceivable velocity — what image would you behold?-what would first and chiefly catch your vision in its contemplation of the revolving earth? Would it not be her dark or unsunned side flashing round every moment into the light, and every moment whirling again as fast round into the shade? This, to us who dwell in mansions of clay, constitutes day and night-a tardy revolution of four-and-twenty hours; but to angel eyes how different! To them, looking forth upon the racing spheres, the day of the dwindled earth is but a momentary flash, and its night is but a momentary shade. Depend upon it, that is the picture which Goethe intended to represent, and which in fact he does most vividly portray,* if his translators had but had eyes to see it; and is it not sublime?
In the third stanza, the feeling intended to be conveyed appears to be that of impetuous violence, lulled at last, and subsiding into perfect peace -a feeling, however, which is marred by a blunder all the translators are guilty of, with the exception of Lord Gower and Mr Hayward, who, if we may judge from a note † in his admi
* For German readers we add the words of the original,
Es wechselt Paradieses-Helle
Mit tiefer schauervoller Nacht.
In the preceding lines Gabriel had described the inconceivably rapid revolution of the earth; and in those before us he points out the consequence of this revolution-not its consequence in relation to us human beings, but in relation to himself and his brother-spectators; namely, that (es wechselt) there is continually alternating upon the earth a succession of light and shade, as rapidly as it is possible for them to
† Faust, a dramatic poem by Goethe, translated into English prose, with remarks on former translations and notes. By A. Hayward, Esq. Second edition. London:
rable prose translation, appears to see the matter in its true light, although we think he ought to have brought out the right meaning more explicitly in his text. This error consists in understanding the words "thy servants," in the last line but one, to apply to the angels of the Lord, instead of referring them to his thunder and lightnings, spoken of in the immediately preceding lines. Shelley, and all the translators, (except the two above mentioned,) so understand the passage. Yet what sense, what connexion of thought, can there be in saying "Yonder," that is, upon earth, "blasting lightnings are flaming before the path of the thunderbolt; yet we thy servants, O Lord! revere the placid going of thy day?" Why yet? Can any body doubt but that this is the sense of the passage:"Yonder, &c. ; yet these," (that is, thunder and lightning,) "thy messengers, disarmed of their fury in thy presence, O Lord! revere the placid going of thy day?" Understood thus, the stanza becomes admirable; understood in the other way, it stands meaningless and incoherent. In the Bible, which Goethe was profoundly versed in, thunder and lightning are constantly alluded to as the "messengers of the Lord.” *
Dr Anster enjoys, we believe, considerable reputation as a translator of "Faust." His translation is certainly very far indeed from being the worst before us: his blank verse, as we said before, is frequently excellent; and we have great respect for his general powers. But we must now subject his version of this ode to the test of our criticism. It runs as follows:
The sun, as in the ancient days,
'Mong sister spheres in rival song His destined path observes-obeys, And still in thunder rolls along.
* Psalm civ. 4. Job xxxviii. 35.
New strength and full beatitude
The angels gather from his sight. Mysterious all; yet all is good, All fair as at the birth of light.
Swift, unimaginably swift,
Soft spins the earth; and glories bright Of mid-day Eden change and shift
To shades of deep and spectral night. The vex'd sea foams-waves leap and
And chide the rocks with insult hoarse ; And wave and rock are hurried on,
And suns and stars, in endless course.
And winds with winds mad war maintain From sea to land, from land to sea, And heave round earth a living chain
Of interwoven agency,
Guides of the bursting thunder-peal.
Fast lightnings flash with deadly ray, While, Lord! with thee thy servants feel Calm effluence of abiding day.
The grand characteristic of this ode in the original is, that each lineament in it is cut clean at one blow, and requires no second application of the chisel. Its style is most peremptory; and there is not one superfluous word in it: every syllable tells like a hammer; and every single stroke sends its nail home into the soul. In Dr Anster's translation, however, we observe a good deal of indecision, and an inability to hit the nail fair upon the head. For instance, in the repetition "observes-obeys," he makes two hits at the sun, endeavouring to describe what he is about; and in both cases, we are sorry to say, he entirely misses his aim. We are sure he must feel that, in a composition like this, if once saying a thing won't settle its business, still less will it be settled by being said twice or a hundred times. The same observation applies to "new strength and full beatitude." The strength of the unfallen angels is bea
We subjoin the original verse :—
Lord Gower translates it thus, and gives, though not very forcibly or clearly, the sense
for which we are contending :
The lightnings of the dread destroyer
Yet at the nod of their employer,
The servants of his wrath forbear.