« IndietroContinua »
were guilty of no violence towards the Foams in broad billows from the deep idiom of their vernacular tongue, nor Up to the rocks, and rocks and towards the spirit of the original work. In most cases, this cannot be brought Onward, with spheres which out in a foreign tongue, without an
sleep, entire abandonment of the words from
Are burried in eternal motion. which the translation is made. Therefore, we confess that in general we are no sticklers for literal faithfulness And tempests in contention roar
From land to sea, from sea to land, of interpretation, and beg to remind those who are, that their translations,
And raging weave a chain of power
Which girds the earth as with a like copies of a marble inscription
band. taken in clay, may be extremely and even curiously faithful, while they yet
A flaming desolation there
Flames before the thunder's way: exactly reverse every character of the
But thy servants, Lord ! revere original.
The gentle changes of thy day. Closing these observations upon the necessity under which we think a
In this translation various dramatic translator lies, of being more than usually strict in his adherence to the proprieties belonging to the situation
of the speakers are found to be vioidiom, the simplicity, and the ordi
lated. Let us observe what this situanary conversational arrangement of tion is. The archangels must be suphis vernacular tongue, particularly posed to be standing on some sort of when his work has to be executed in aërial platform in the skies, and are rhyme, we now proceed to illustrate contemplating from afar the rolling our remarks, and to comment practi- magnificence of worlds. They then cally upon specimens extracted from the translations before us.
commence to describe not simply
what they know to be the case, but Although not in our list, we shall
what is actually passing before their commence with Shelley, both on ac
All their remarks are uttered
eyes. count of his greater poetical reputation, duxtixws, that is, in a dramatically deand because he was the first who led monstrative manner. With regard, the way by translating certain por- then, to Raphael's first observation, tions of this drama. We quote his that “the sun makes music,”-or, as it version of the ode chanted by the would be better and more literally three archangels in the opening scene rendered, “sounds,"-we remark that --a composition which, in the original, this is a very feeble and essentially appears to us to be one of the most
undramatic manner of conveying sublime strains that ever fell from the
what he really says. He does not lips or the pen of a mortal man. The merely mean to state the abstract fact, reader is probably aware that, in imi. that the
“ makes music" tation of the opening scene in Job, the “sounds," but he breaks forth with an prologue of Faust is transacted in
emphatic declaration of what he hears heaven. All the heavenly host are
and sees actually taking place at that present—the three archangels come
very time; namely, that the sun is forward :
sounding, or (if it must be so expressed) “ is making musit.” In the Ger
man language this form of expression The sun makes music as of old
is never used; but we, who have it, Amid the rival spheres of heaven,
ought always to employ it when we On its predestined circle rollid With thunder speed—the angels even
are describing an event actually trans
acting before our eyes ; for the draDraw strength from gazing its
matic effect of our description wholly glance, Though none its meaning fathom may.
depends upon its use. Other instances The world's unwither'd countenance
of this fault may be observed running Is bright as at creation's day.
through the whole version ; but we need not particularise them further.
In the fourth line, we think that And swift, and swift with rapid lightness
" thunder specd" is wrong. Speed The adorned earth spins silently,
is not intended to be alluded to at Alternating Elysian brightness
all in this stanza; it is reserved as With deep and dreadful night ;-the the predominant characteristic of the
next. In Raphael's strain, the feeling
meant to be conveyed is that of abid the original, as far as the mere words ing beauty, and calm, unintermitting are concerned, by no means body forth power. “ Thunder strength" would or give any sort of colour to the picbe better. In the same line (to say ture spoken of. nothing of the marring of the versifi. “ Alternating Elysian brightness cation, which ought to have been fully With deep and dreadful night." closed at the end of it, and not broken Surely this cannot merely mean that in the middle) the interpolation of the our earth is visited alternately by day word even (for which there is no coun and by night. The statement of such tenance in the original) would, of itself, a truism would be unworthy of any be sufficient to sink the whole version great poet. What more, then, than this down into Tartarus, even though the is contained or depicted in the original rest of it were really steeped in the words ? Reader! you shall see. Just richest melody that ever flowed from suppose yourself standing on the point angelio lips. “ Though none its of view from which Gabriel is looking, meaning fathom may,” is an inversion that the sun is shining in all his glory, of ordinary syntax which we cannot and that the earth, at a great distance, bring ourselves to consider allowable. is whirling along before your eyes However, “the world's unwithered with inconceivable velocity - what countenance is bright as at (on?) crea- image would you behold?—what would tion's day,” fully makes amends for it, first and chiefly catch your vision in and strikes us as extremely beautiful, its contemplation of the revolving though very different from the words earth? Would it not be her dark or of the original. By “the world," unsunned side flashing round every however, we must understand not the moment into the light, and every earth merely, but, as the original has moment whirling again as fast round it, all “ the inconceivably high works" into the shade ? This, to us who of God.
dwell in mansions of clay, constitutes In the second stanza, Gabriel takes day and night-a tardy revolution of up the note which Raphael had struck, four-and-twenty hours ; but to angel and proceeds to describe his impres- eyes how different! To them, looksions of the gigantic ongoings of the ing forth upon the racing spheres, the universe. As Raphael had called at day of the dwindled earth is but a tention principally to the sun, and momentary flash, and its night is but made the feeling of serene power the a momentary shade. Depend upon predominant feature of his song ; so it, that is the picture which Goethe now Gabriel singles out the earth as intended to represent, and wbich in fact the great object of his description, and he does most vividly portray,* if his makes the feeling of unimaginable translators had but had eyes to see it; swiftness the ruling affection of our and is it not sublime ? souls. In the original description be In the third stanza, the feeling infore us, we wish to point out one image tended to be conveyed appears to be in particular—in our opinion a very that of impetuous violence, lulled at important and picturesque one-which last, and subsiding into perfect peace has never yet been brought out, or -a feeling, however, which is marred apparently even seen by any trans, by a blunder all the translators are lator. It is contained in the third guilty of, with the exception of Lord and fourth lines—lines which, though Gower and Mr Hayward, who, if we faithful enough in Shelley's version to 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 alternate.
† Faust, a dramatic poem by Goethe, translated into English prose, with remarks on former translations and notes. By A. Hayward, Esq. Second edition. London: 1834,
rable prose translation, appears to see New strength and full beatitude
All fair as at the birth of light. in his text. This error consists in understanding the words “thy servants,” in the last line but one, to Swift, unimaginably swift, apply to the angels of the Lord, instead Soft spins the earth ; and glories bright of referring them to his thunder and Of mid-day Eden change and shift lightnings, spoken of in the immedi To shades of deep and spectral night. ately preceding lines. Shelley, and
The vex'd sea foams---waves leap and all the translators, (except the two
And chide the rocks with insult hoarse ; above mentioned) so understand the
And wave and rock are hurried on, passage. Yet what sense, what con
And suns and stars, in endless course, nexion of thought, can there be in saying “ Yonder," that is, upon earth, “blasting lightnings are flaming be
And winds with winds mad war maintain fore the path of the thunderbolt ; yet
From sea to land, from land to sea, we thy servants, O Lord! revere the
And heave round earth a living chain placid going of thy day?"Why Of interwoven agency,yet ? Can any body doubt but that
Guides of the bursting thunder-peal. this is the sense of the passage :-- Fast lightnings flash with deadly ray, “ Yonder, &c. ; yet these,” (that is, While, Lord! with thee thy servants feel thunder and lightning,) thy mes Calm effluence of abiding day. sengers, disarmed of their fury in thy presence, O Lord ! revere the placid The grand characteristic of this ode going of thy day?” Understood thus, in the original is, that each lineament the stanza becomes admirable ; un in it is cut clean at one blow, and rederstood in the other way, it stands quires no second application of the meaningless and incoherent. In the chisel. Its style is most peremptory; Bible, which Goethe was profoundly and there is not one superfluous word versed in, thunder and lightning are in it: every syllable tells like a hamconstantly alluded to as the “ messen mer; and every single stroke sends gers of the Lord.” *
its nail home into the soul. In Dr Dr Anster enjoys, we believe, con Anster's translation, however, we obsiderable reputation as a translator of serve a good deal of indecision, and
Faust.” His translation is certainly an inability to hit the nail fair upon very far indeed from being the worst the head. For instance, in the repetibefore us : his blank verse, as we said tion “observes-obeys," he makes two before, is frequently excellent ; and hits at the sun, endeavouring to dewe have great respect for his general scribe what he is about; and in both powers. But we must now subject cases, we are sorry to say, he entirely his version of this ode to the test of misses his aim. We are sure he must our criticism. It runs as follows: feel that, in a composition like this, if
once saying a thing won't settle its
business, still less will it be settled by The sun, as in the ancient days,
being said twice or a hundred times. 'Mong sister spheres in rival song The same observation applies to “new His destined path observes-obeys, strength and full beatitude." The
And still in thunder rolls along. strength of the unfallen angels is bea
* Psalm civ. 4. Job xxxviii. 35. We subjoin the original verse :
Da flammt ein blitzendes Verheeren
Das sanfte Wandeln deines Tags. 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
Precede his thunders through the air;
The servants of his wrath forbear.
titude, and therefore it is tautological are these expressions in any degree to talk of both. In this fifth line, justified by the original text; indeed, therefore, we would retrench every we should as soon expect to see bramword except the word “strength :"all ble-berries growing on peach-trees, as the rest is “ leather and prunella." So such vicious poetic diction sprouting is “yet all is good” in the next line. from any of the shoots of Goethe's And here, we again ask, why that un genius. happy qualification "yet?" If it has In the third stanza, the expression any significance at all, this word must « heave round earth'
appears to us be used for the purpose of disarming to be a very sluggish and cumbrous suspicion. The most favourable sup- mode of depicting the activity every position we can make for the trans- where propagated, “when the stormy lator is, that when he called the works winds do blow."
« With deadly of God “ mysterious all,” it immedi. ray," is very schoolboyish. In the ately occurred to him that they would two last lines, the reader will see the be suspected of being not good. He blunder we have already pointed out, therefore begs to assure us that, not committed : the words " thy serwithstanding their mysteriousness, vants," namely, understood in referthey are good ; otherwise the word ence to themselves—the angels, and not yet can have no meaning whatsoever. in reference to the “ thunder-peal" “ They are mysterious," says he ; and “ fast lightnings," as they ought “yet, trust me, they are good." Now, to be. if no such suspicions ever entered our We are anxious to exhibit speci. minds, (as they certainly never did, mens of all the translations of this being indeed quite at variance with ode; but as we can only afford space the feeling inspired by the strain,) for a stanza a-piece, we shall yoke this attempt to allay them must be three mortals together, and make them deemed a very superfluous undertak- ' chant in turn this strain of the im. ing, and one which greatly disfigures mortals. The first archangel in our the character of the verses.
leash shall be The same want of decision is still more apparent in the second stanza.
“ The sun, along the void of space, “ Change and shift.” Why say the same thing twice over, in a composi- And rolls on his predestined race
Is sounding with his brother spheres, tion, the great beauty of which, in
At thunder-speed: his aspect cheers point of style, results from the severe
The angels, though none understand parsimony of its words ? But this is
What his mysterious music says. nothing to what takes place in the
The works of the Creator's hand next two lines -" The vex'd sea
Are fresh as in creation's days. foams"_that is the thing said once ;
waves leap and moan"-well, that is the same thing said twice, if Swift, swift beyond all thought, still flies not three times. Surely it won't be
Earth, with its pomp, its orbit round; repeated : yes, here it is again—" and Robed in the light of Paradise, chide the rocks.'--that is four times :
Altern with night's dread shades pro
found ! there is an end of it now, we hope
With its broad surge the foaming deep no, it returns upon us again for the To lash the sea-cliff's base appears ; fifth time; they (the waves) do this While rock and billow onward sweep "with insult hoarse." How intoler.
In forced rotation, with the spheres ! ably this retards the fervour of the verse, which ought almost to make the brain whirl with its rapidity! We
And storms in opposition raging, beg, moreover, to remark, that the use
From seas o'er land- from land o'er of the words “ chide" and " insult,"
In conflict mad engaging, in this passage, affords a striking illustration of what Wordsworth calls
Build deep-laid barriers by their motion.
Now the destroying lightning's vivid flame “ the language of passion wrested
Foreruns the awful thunder's roar ; from its proper use, and, from the mere
Yet, Lord! thy messengers proclaim thy circumstance of the composition being in metre," (this is the thing we were
And the calm tenure of' thy day'adore. condemning a little while back,) “ applied upon an occasion which does not
In the stanza sung by the first of our justify such expressions." Neither trio, the expression « along the void
THE HON, GABRIEL TALBOT,
in his way:
Who this gen
of space" is a very unnecessary inter- they thought, an article of which polation of the translator. “ Though " there was no want." But Job was none understand what his mysterious not so to be done. His only fear, music says"-a specific construction he tells us, was, “ lest I should be is here put upon the words of the ori. charged with presumption or affectaginal, which we do not think they will tion in so closely imitating Goethe ;" bear. It is not the sun's music merely and accordingly he listened to the rethat the angels are unable to fathom : monstrances of his friends “ with feelit is himself and all his wondrous ings something akin to pity towards ways.
such persons."-(Preface, p. 9.) If in the Honourable Mr Talbot's Job Crithannah is guilty of no pre. stanza there is not much to applaud; sumption or affectation, except that but where can words be found strong of closely imitating Goethe,” we beg enough to condemn the verse in which to assure him that he must be about this expression appears ?
the most unpresumptuous and unaf“ The foaming deep
fected individual now alive. He inTo lash the sea-cliffs' base appears.” forms us that in early life he was parAppears to lash! !-why, it does lash tially acquainted with “ Faust;" but these same foundation-rocks with a that about three years ago it again fell force which, unless they had been
" I gave it much attenrooted to the centre, would long ago tion,” says he," and was rewarded by have knocked them off their legs. astounding delight.” With regard
We now make our bow to our third to his own translation he speaks thus. archangel, Mr Birch.
“ I have proposed to myself to give tleman is, we know not ; but if he the meaning of my author fully, neishould take umbrage at our having ther skipping over, nor avowedly placed him at the head of his stanza leaving out any part; but studiously as Michael Birch, we beg to refer him masking such passages as might be to his own pompous preface, from considered objectionable to delicacywhich it appears that he himself has to give it in poetry line for line, and indulged in far more extravagant li- literally, where the genius of the two berties with the name “ his godfathers languages admitted of such closeness ; and godmothers" gave him, than any for if too verbally given, Goethe be-. that we, even in our wildest imagina comes increasingly obscure, and his tions, could ever have dreamt of taking. beauties remain undeveloped. I have, « That my proper name," (says he, therefore, considered it better on such p. 10,)“ is unknown to the literary occasions to give a good liberal Engworld, is true ; yet have two of the lish equivalent rather than a cramped productions of my pen passed the verbality, so that the verse might flow, ordeal of criticism, and received the [italics in original,] without which no reviewer's meed of praise ; namely, my poetical version could ever become
Fifty-one original Fables and Morals,' agreeable to the English reader, or published five years ago as written by approach to a display of Goethe's JOB CRITHANNAH ; and my recently versification. In fact, a spirited transpublished Divine Emblems,' as by lation, palpable, interesting, and pleaJOHANN ABRICHT, both being ana sing, from its euphony, to the Englishgrams of my proper name. The man; and satisfactory to the German capitals are his own. Now, if Mr scholar from its correctness.” Birch prefers the name of Job Crit Here Job Crithannah promises well, · hannah to that of the archangel but we much doubt whether, even Michael, we will not quarrel with him with the assistance of Johann Ababout it. De gustibus, &c., only to our richt, he will be found able to make ears the latter sounds rather more good his word. Let us examine the euphonious.
short sample of his performance which It was not without a profound weigh. we have quoted. In the second line, ing of the subject, that Job Crithannah literally, s from sea to land, from undertook and went through with his land to sea,”-the whole beauty of translation of“ Faust.” Various friends which verse depends upon the second appear to have tried to dissuade him clause being made to play back in tofrom publishing his version, it being, tidem verbis, upon the first-he has
* By avowedly he evidently means intentionally, otherwise he must mean that he has left out some parts, but has resolved not to confess what they are.