Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

And all the sky from end to end

He compasseth about;
Nothing can hide it from his heat,

But he will find it out."

BRADY AND TATE.
“No bridegroom on his nuptial day

Has such a cheerful face;
No giant doth like him rejoice

To run his glorious race.
From east to west, from west to east,

His restless course he goes,
And, through his progress, cheerful heat

And vital warmth bestows."

There are few, I believe, who would not prefer the simplicity of the first to the gaudiness of the second of these examples; and where shall we find a more pitiful debasement of poetry into common-place than the two last lines of Brady and Tate's rendering exhibit? We perceive something noble in the idea that nothing can effectually obstruct the influence of the sun; but the mere assertion that he bestows cheerful heat and vital WARMTH" is so trite, so unnecessary, and so tautological, that we must declare it below contempt.

Let us take a few more instances of Brady and Tate's lack of fidelity. In Psalm lxxxix. we find the following eloquent complaint of the reverses with which David was afflicted : “Thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it on the ground. Thou hast broken down all his hedges: thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. All that pass by the way spoil him : he is a reproach to his neighbours. Thou bast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle. Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground. The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered bim with shame. How long, Lord? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is : wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ?-. 38-47.

BRADY AND TATE.
«« Thou seemest to have rendered void

The cov'nant with thy servant made;
Thou hast his dignity destroyed,

And in the dust his honour laid.
Of strongholds thou hast him bereft,

And brought his bulwarks to decay :
His frontier coast defenceless left

A public scorn and common prey.
His ruin does glad tidings yield

To foes advanced by thee to might:
Thou hast his conquring sword unsteeled ;

His valour turned to shameful flight.

His glory has to darkness fled,

His throne is levelled with the ground;
His youth to wretched bondage led ;

With shame o'erwhelmed, and sorrow drowned.
How long shall we thy absence mourn?

Wilt thou for ever, Lord, retire?
Shall thy consuming anger burn

Till that and we at once expire ?
Consider, Lord, how short a space

Thou dost for mortal life ordain:
No method to prolong the race,

But loading it with grief and pain!The above verses are sufficiently ornate; but a little examination will suffice to show how completely the true spirit of the Psalmist has been suffered to evaporate. The very first line is an unnecessary weakening of the original sentiinent. Instead of the energetic exclamation, “ Thou hast profaned his crown by casting it on the ground," the sacred poet's versifiers make him dolorously complain of dignity destroyed and honour laid in the dust. “ Thou hast broken all his hedges," is plainness too ipsipid for Brady and Tate, so they substitute a lamentation of the defencelessness of his frontier coasts ;” while the simple words, “ Thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin," are wire-drawn into two whole lines :

“Of strongholds thou hast him bereft

And brought his bulwarks to decay;" Although, if David had been bereft of his strongholds, he need not have troubled himself about the repair of his bulwarks. Glory Aying to darkness for extinction, is not a very sensible image, since such a procedure, so far from making the glory "cease,” would but heighten its splendour : nor is there much similarity between the days of youth being shortened, and leading youngsters into “ wretched bondage.” The meaning of the Psalmist is simply, that David, afflicted with premature care, had early lost the gaiety of youth. “Shall thy wrath burn like fire ?” is a question appropriate both to the speaker and the Deity to whom it is addressed, and conveys a lively idea of the irresistible and dreadful nature of the anger deprecated; but Brady and Tate cannot be content without adding a pretty turn, wholly unlike the sternness of the sacred writings:

“Shall thy consuming anger burn,

Till that and we at once expire ?. Stili more epigrammatic are the lines which usurp the place of the question, “ Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ?"

“ No method to prolong the race

But loading it with grief and pain.” Sternhold and Hopkins, who eve. keep to the obvious signification, render the passage with more fidelity, if less elegance :

“ Why hast thou made the sons of men

As things in vain to waste?”. Than these points, nothing can be more disagreeable, when so utterly unjustified by the text. Brady and Tate are continually perpetrating them, in a manner which often completely destroys the identity of the Hebrew bard. Just casting my eye down one of their pages, I found the subjoined specimen of modern trifling foisted upon David: “ Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.”—Psalm xlix. 20.

BRADY AND TATE.
“ For man, how great soe'er his state,

Unless he's truly wise,
As like a sensual beast he lives

So like a beast he dies.Again : " Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.”Psalm 1xxxviii. 18.

BRADY AND TATE.
“My lovers, friends, familiars, all
Removed from sight, and out of call;
To dark oblivion all retired,

Dead, or to me at least expired." Interpolations cannot be avoided; but they should always be consonant with the style of the Psalmist. The interpolations of Brady and Tate, however, are generally tawdry embellishments.

“ Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?"-Psalm 1x. 9. This passage neither of the versions under consideration could render without circumlocution. Sternhold and Hopkins have it thus :

“ But who will bring me at this tide

Unto the city strong?
Or who to Edom will me guide

So that I go not wrong?" The last line of the above quotation falls into its place so naturally, that we can scarcely call it an interpolation. But Brady and Tate are more ambitious, and accordingly dash in some pompous commonplaces.

But who shall quell these mighty powers ;
And clear my way to Edom's towers;
Or through her guarded frontier tread

The path that doth to conquest lead?I shall but draw two more parallels between the ancient and modem versions, and then have done with my citations : “ Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice : have mercy also upon me and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my lreart said unto thee, Tliy face, Lord, will I seek."- Psalm xxvii. 7, 8.

STERNHOLD AND HOPKINS.
“ Lord, hear the voice of my request,

For which to thee I cry;
Have mercy, Lord, on me opprest,

And help me speedily.

My heart confesseth unto thee,

I sue to have thy grace;
Then seek my face, saidst thou to me;

Lord, I will seek thy face !”

BRADY AND TATE.
“ Continue, Lord, to hear my voice,

Whene'er to thee I cry;
In mercy my complaints receive,

Nor my request deny.
When us to seek thy glorious face

Thou kindly dost advise ;
“Thy glorious face I'll always seek,'

My grateful heart replies.”
It is almost superfluous to remark, how the simple grandeur of the
Psalmist has been contaminated by Brady and Tate.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea ; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved : God shall help her, and that right early.”Psalm xlvi. 1-5.

STERNHOLD AND HOPKINS.
“The Lord is our defence and aid-

The strength whereby we stand;
When we with woe are much dismayed,

He is our help at hand.
Tho' earth do move, we will not fear,

Tho' mountains high and steep
Be thrust and hurled here and there

Within the sea so deep;
No, though the sea do rage so sore

That all the banks it spills,
And though it overflow the shore,

And beat down mighty hills :
For one fair flood doth send abroad

His pleasant streams apace,
To glad the city of our God,

And wash his Holy Place.
In midst of her the Lord doth dwell,

She never can decay;
All that against her dare rebel,
The Lord will surely slay.”

BRADY AND TATE.
“ God is our refuge in distress,
A present help when dangers press;

In him undaunted we'll confide ;
Tho' earth were from her centre tost,
And mountains in the ocean lost,

Torn piecemeal by the roaring tide.

A gentler stream with gladness still
The city of our Lord shall fill,

The royal state of God most high;
God dwells in Sion, whose fair towers
Mock the assaults of earthly powers,

While his almighty aid is nigh." Here we perceive that a portion of the Psalmist's finest imagery“ Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof,” is slurred over by Brady and Tate with scarcely an apology for an equivalent, although evidently required for connexion and completeness.

Our poetic diction has been much refined since the time of Sternhold and Hopkins; and hence their version, although a very commendable one for the period which produced it, is, by the roughness of its versification, unfitted for general use. Brady and Tate's, however, is so continually substituting smoothness for nerve-is so gilded with the modern mosaic, profusely used by poetic pretenders instead of the gold which they cannot afford that the sooner it is superseded the better. I am well aware that the occasional baldness of the language of the Psalms makes some amplification necessary when translating them into metre; but it is rarely requisite that all their isolated characteristics should be faithfully preserved. They should still appear the effusions of a distant age and peculiar people, and not the products of a pietistic rhymester somewhat given to bombast and hyperbole. I do not remember ever to have read a paraphrase of any of the Psalms which pleased me more than that of the 137th, which is usually attributed to Sir Philip Sidney. Steel inserted it in the Guardian as an evidence of the gallant soldier's piety; yet, independent of this consideration, its intrinsic beauty will recommend it to all who have taste to appreciate g nuine poetry :

“ Nigh seated where the river flows,

''hat wat’reth Babel's thankful plain,
Which then our tears in pearled rows

Did help to water with the rain :
The thought of Sion bred such woes,
That though our harps we did retain,

Yet useless and untouched there,

On willows only banged they were.
Now while our harps were hanged so,

The men whose captives then we lay,
Did on our griefs insulting go,

And more to grieve us thus did say:
You that of music make such show,
Come sing us now a Sion's lay:

0, no! we have no voice nor hand

For such a song in such a land.
Though far I be, sweet Sion's hill,

In foreign soil exiled from thee,
Yet let my hand forget its skill,

If ever thou forgotten be;
And let my tongue fast glued still

Unto my roof, be mute in me,

« AnteriorContinua »