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fessed pagans are few the instinct towards paganism still exists, and most among those who say least about it.




The collected edition of Bryant's poems of 1854 contains a handful of translations, twelve from the Spanish, four from the German, one each from the French, the Provençal, the Portuguese, and the Greek. In 1864 a translation of the fifth book of the Odyssey was printed in the volume entitled Thirty Poems. The praise which it called out gave Bryant the impulse to further experiments of the same sort; and after the death of his wife (in 1866), when the necessity was upon him of forgetting his grief so far as possible in some engrossing work, he undertook a version of the Iliad and the Odyssey entire.

He gave himself methodically to the task, translating about forty lines a day. Later he increased the daily stint to seventy-five lines. He chose blank verse because the use of rhyme in a translation is a constant temptation to petty in• fidelities.'

Bryant retained the misleading Latin forms of proper names. Worsley says : Not even Mr.

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"Gladstone's example can now make Juno, Mer'cury, and Venus admissible in Homeric story.' But Worsley confessed his own inability to write Phoibos, Apollón, and Kirké. Bryant's argument for his course looks specious: 'I was translating from Greek into English, and I therefore trans"lated the names of the gods, as well as the other ‘parts of the poem.' Probably he had an affection for the old nomenclature, a sentiment like Macaulay's, who 'never could reconcile himself 'to seeing the friends of his boyhood figure as 'Kleon, and Alkibiadês, and Poseidôn, and Odys'seus.'

An enthusiastic admirer of Bryant declares that in the opinion of competent critics' his versions of Homer will hold their own with the transla'tions of Pope, Chapman, Newman, or the late 'Earl Derby.' Much depends on the question of what a competent critic'is, and which one of several competent critics is to be taken as final authority. Competent critics, who, by the way, seldom agree, have a habit of agreeing on anything sooner than the merits of a version of Homer. And when one remembers the fearful attack made by Matthew Arnold on Newman (‘Any vivacities of expression 'which may have given him pain I sincerely re'gret') — he may well hesitate to take as a compliment the statement that Bryant will hold his own' with Newman.

I G. O. Trevelyan.

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The question of the higher merit of the poem rests with the experts at last. Pessimists all, they are discouragingly hostile to metrical versions of the Iliad. Yet the most uncompromising of them would hardly deny a lay reader the privilege of enjoying Homer, in so far as possible, through the medium of Bryant's blank verse. They might even be persuaded to admit that this version has a peculiar adaptability to the needs of the public; that the clarity and beauty of the English, the dignified ease of the measure, the sustained energy and vigor of the performance as a whole, fit Bryant's Homer in a high degree to the use for which it was intended. The argument from popularity, that always unsafe and often vicious argument, has a measure of force here. Granting that Homer in any honest translation is better than no Homer at all, may not the uncompromising scholars be called on to rejoice that this more than honest, nay, this admirable translation of the Iliad has sold to the extent of many thousands of copies? Where there are so many buyers, there must be readers not a few.

Bryant was one of those unusual men who have two distinct callings. Much surprise has been expressed at his apparent ability to carry on his functions of journalist and poet without clash. But is it true, or more than superficially true, that he did so carry them on? To be sure, he wrote his editorial articles at the newspaper office and his verses

elsewhere, but this is a mere mechanical distinction. A man of Bryant's depth of conviction and passionate temperament does not throw off care when he boards a suburban train for his country home.

The history of Bryant's inner life has not been written, perhaps cannot be. This is not to imply that his character was enigmatic and mysterious, but merely to emphasize the fact of his extraordinary reserve. More than most self-contained men he kept his own counsel. Such a history would show how deep his experience of the world had ploughed into him, and it might explain in a degree the remote and stoical character of his verse.

Bryant's poetical work as a whole has an impassive quality often described as coldness. Partly due to his genius and accentuated by the excessive retouching to which he subjected his verse, it grew in still larger measure out of his determination not to impart to his verse any of the feverishness of spirit consequent upon a life of political warfare. The

poet held himself wonderfully in check, as a man of iron will allows no mark of the strong passion under which he labors to show in his face. Bryant was rarely betrayed into so much of

personal feeling as flashed out in that bitter stanza of "The Future Life :'For me the sordid cares in which I dwell, Shrink and consume my heart, as heat the scroll ;

- that fire of hell Has left its scar upon my soul.

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And wrath has left its scar

While the detachment was not complete, Bryant undoubtedly kept his poetic apart from his secular life in a way to command admiration. This he accomplished by extraordinary self-restraint. As a part of the varied and long-continued discipline to which he subjected himself, the self-restraint made for character. The question, however, arises whether the poetry did not, in certain ways, suffer under the very discipline by which the character developed.

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