« PreviousContinue »
A PAGE OR TWO ON A PREFACE
NEW TRANSLATION OF DANTE'S INFERNO."
We cannot afford, in our present Number, to allow much more than a page to a notice of a new Translation of the Inferno into French prose.
We shall therefore content ourselves with the examination of a couple of pages in Mr. Tarver's preface, in which he quotes certain passages from Mr. Cary's Translation for the purpose of showing how unfaithfully he has rendered them. As Mr. Tarver has thought proper to charge Mr. Cary's version of these passages with inexactness, we may be pretty sure, he thinks his own much better : we shall therefore present our readers with the improved translation, quoting at the same time the Italian, to enable them to see how far Mr. Cary has departed from the sense of the original. Mr. Tarver, we think, cannot complain of our selecting the passages which he himself cites as contrasting with the fidelity of his own translation; nor of our resting our opinion of the value of his book in general, upon the specimen of its merits which his preface affords us.
The following lines in Cary, he says, “ do not express the sense of the author.” Dante, as most of our readers know, sees a panther at the foot of the mountain up which he is climbing : Dante.
Cary. Si chịa bene sperar m'era cagione,
So that with joyous hopes Di quella fera la gaietta pelle,
All things conspired to fill me, the gay skin L'ora del tempo, e la dolce stagione. Of that sweet animal, the matin dawn,
And the sweet season. Here is Mr. Taryer's translation :
De manière que l'heure du jour et la douce saison du printemps me donnaient lieu d'espérer que je remporterais la belle peau tachetée de cette bête sauvage.
So that the morning hour and the sweet season of spring gave me reason to hope that I might carry off the beautiful speckled skin of that wild animal.
- From this admirable translation we learn, among other curious matters, that on any fine spring morning, one may reasonably expect to catch a panther before breakfast ! Dante.
Cary. Quella che con le sette teste nacque,
She who with seven heads tower'd at her E dalle diece corna ebbe argomento
birth, Fin che virtute al suo marito piacque. And from ten horns her proof of glory drew,
C. xix. Long as her spouse in virtue took delight. Mr. Cary's version is here almost literal; and the ebbe argomento, a metaphor taken from heraldry, is well rendered by “ proof of glory: but Mr. Tarver kindly gives the lady authority over her husband, because she wore ten horns !
Celle qui naquit avec sept têtes, et qui dut son autorité à ses dix cornes, tant que la vertu plut à son epoux.
She who was born with seven heads, and who owed her authority to her ten horns, as long as her husband delighted in virtue.
The next passage, which is a close translation of the Italian, is changed by Mr. Tarver into the following dull paraphrase, not a word of which is in the original: Dante.
Cary. Si che si stella buona o miglior cosa
That if aught of good M'ha dato'l ben, ch'io stesso nol m'invidi. My gentle star, or something better gave me,
C. xxvi. I envy not myself the precious boon. * L'Enfer de Dante Alighieri, traduit en Français. Par C. J. Tarver. 2 Vols. 8vo. Nov. 1624.
Que si ma bonne étoile, ou quelqu'autre cause superieure, m'a doué de quelques biens, je ne les tourne pas à ma perte, en en abusant.
That if my good star, or some higher cause, have endowed me with any thing good, I turn it not to my destruction, by abusing it.
Mr. Cary has been sometimes guilty, according to Mr. Tarver, of making his translation more poetical than the original, as in this instance: Dante.
Cary. Non mi parèn men ampi, nè maggiori Nor ample less nor larger they appear'd Che quei, che son nel mio bel San Giovanni Than in Saint John's fair dome, of me beFatti per luogo de battezzatori.
loved, C. xix. Those framed to hold the pure baptismal
Mr. Tarver reduces this as much below the Italian as Mr. Cary has elevated his lines above it :
Ils n'étaient ni petits ni plus grands que ces puits qu'on voit dans notre beau baptistère de St. Jean, et qu'on a fait pour la commodité des prêtres lorsqu'ils baptisent.
They were neither greater nor less than those which are seen in our beautiful baptistery of St. John, which were made for the convenience of priests when they baptise.
Mr. Cary's version is quoted in another place as erroneous, though Mr. Tarver renders the passage in the same manner. Dante.
Cary. Per mille fonti credo e più si bagna Its name Benacus, from whose ample breast Fra Garda e Valdimonica, Pennino, A thousand streams, methinks, and more Dell'acqua che nel detto lago stagna.
between C. XX.
Camonica and Garda, issuing forth,
Water the Appenine. Je crois qu'entre la ville de Garde et la vallée de Monica, plas de mille fontaines arrosent les flancs des Alpes Penines, et vont ensuite déposer leurs eaux dans le lac.
I ween that betwixt the city of Garda and the valley of Monica, more than a thousand fountains water the sides of the Pennine Alps, and then go to deposit their streams in the lake.
Mr. Cary, says the Proser, "n'a peut-être pas non plus examiné assez scrupuleusement les passages historiques, ni les circonstances : avec un peu plus d'attention, il n'aurait pas fait les fautes suivantes :”
The seer was he
To cut the cable. Here is the original, which bears the sense which Mr. Cary has given it, and no other :
-Quel che dalla gota
In Aulide a tagliar la prima fune.-C. xx. But this is not enough for our Proser; he insists that Mr. Cary should have corrected the error into which he says Dante has fallen. Virgil, quoth he," ne dit pas cela, quoique Dante le lui ait fait dire.” Accordingly he mistranslates the lines in order to interpret them after his own fancy:
Ce fut lui qui, de concert avec Calcas, indique le moment favorable pour couper les cables, et quitter l'Aulide.
He it was who, with Calchas, pointed out the favourable moment for cutting the cables, and quitting Aulis.
In the same page he again finds fault with Mr. Cary, because he did not choose to new-christen Giovanni, which means (as every body knows) John, by the name of Henry, to whom Mr. Tarver will have it that Dante alluded:
Cary. Sappi ch'io son Bertram dal Bornio quelli
Know that I Chedie di al Ré Giovanni i ma'conforti. Am Bertrand, he of Born who gave King
The counsel mischievous. This is unreasonable enough, but it is still more provoking to find the same passage translated by Mr. Tarver himself in these precise words.
Sache que je suis Bertrand de Born, celui qui donna des conseils pervers au roi Jean. Know that I am Bertram of Born, he who gave evil counsel to King John. Mr. Tarver sums up his account of the merits of Mr. Cary's translation of Dante-which every body allows to be the best English translation existing of any Poet--in this indulgent fashion. « Les vers blancs que M. Cary a adoptés lui donnent certainement une grande altitude ; il s'est aussi debarassé de la difficulté de traduire par stances : malgré cela, il lui arrive dans quelques endroits d'être inexact,'et parfois d'être aussi obscur que l'auteur :" and he adds that, in spite of all the translations which have been made, up to his own, the Divine Comedy is as yet unknown; and that “il semble qu' Hercule ait planté ses colonnes À L'ENTRÉE DE LA DIVINE Comedie! C'est là que l'on s'arrête.” This new Hercules, of whom we have now shown a foot to our readers, has placed some other columns in the way, which are quite as likely to prevent any one from entering upon the Divine Comedy: and they are now qualified to judge ex pede what his head is made of.
Mr. Tarver has a peculiar taste in spelling French, and even condescends now and then to make some improvements upon the Italian. Among other instances, he gives us débarassé and dédomager for débarrasser and dédommager: Penine for Pennine, Calcas for Calchas, &c. The genitive DELL' Inferno is used for L'Inferno, and stands in large capitals in two parts of his book, rendered by L'Enfer--so that the printer is clearly innocent of the blunder.
So much for our notice of Mr. Tarver.
CLOTILDA OF KYNAST.
A SILESIAN LEGEND.
The castle wall is dark and tall,
ath is steep;
Your curdled blood would creep.
The maiden, who dwelt within that wall,
() she was wondrous fair !
Of lovers she had no care.
Far better she loved with horse and hound
To rouse the forest deer;
Than love-lute, pleased her ear.
She rode o'er mount and lea;
“ It must not be, till a knight so free
Amid your band be found, That, boldly, for the love of me
He will ride yon rampart round.”
Now some were sick, and some were gone,
And some had lamed the steed; They dared not so much as think upon
That strange and ghastly deed.
But land is dearest to sea-toss'd men,
High fruits to the climbing boy; 'Tis a truth, repeated again and again,
That danger sweetens joy.
And some there were of the throng, who swore
Round the castle wall to ride :
And in the deep cleft died.
At length there came a comely knight,
As e'er won woman's love;
And his brow swan-white above.
There ne'er was fiercer knight than he
In danger's desperate hour, Nor one so gallant and so free,
So mild, in lady's bower.
Clotilda's pride, like a morning mist,
Fled from his sunny glance;
In love's delicious trance.
And must be prove that perilous way,
To perish like the rest?
For he proudly claim'd the test.
He mounted his steed, so light and free,
He stroked his arching mane ; “O sure be thy foot, my roan !” said he,
“ Or it never shall prance again!
sure be thy foot, my gallant steed!
'Tis a narrow path, I trow; Thou hast ever been good in the time of need,
Thou hadst need be trusty now.”
He sprang on the wall—for a moment's space
He waver'd and hung in air-
The pale looks of despair!
With cautious foot and light ;
As the moon on the vault of night.