Obrazy na stronie

Now I lead a life of ease,
Far from rugged haunts like these.
From Anacreon's hand I eat
Food delicious, viands sweet;
Flutter o'er his goblet's brim,
Sip the foamy wine with him.
Then, when I have wantoned round
To his lyre's beguiling sound;
Or with gently-moving wings
Fanned the minstrel while he sings:
On his harp I sink in slumbers,
Dreaming still of dulcet numbers !

Far away, my soul! thou art,
But I've thy beauties all by heart.
Paint her jetty ringlets playing,
Silky locks, like tendrils straying;4
And, if painting hath the skill
To make the spicy balm distil,5
Let every little lock exhale
A sigh of perfume on the gale.
Where her tresses' curly flow
Darkles o'er the brow of snow,
Let her forehead beam to light,
Burnished as the ivory bright.
Let her eyebrows smoothly rise
In jetty arches o'er her eyes,
Each, a crescent gently gliding,
Just commingling, just dividing.

This is all

away away You have made me waste the day. How I 've chattered ! prating crow Never yet did chatter so.

ODE XVI.1 Thou, whose soft and


hues Mimic form and soul infuse, 2 Best of painters, come portray The dovely maid that 's far away.3

But, hast thou any sparkles warm, The lightning of her eyes to form? Let them effuse the azure rays That in Minerva’s glances blaze, Mixt with the liquid light that lies

1 This ode and the next may be called companion-pictures; they are highly finished, and give us an excellent idea of the taste of the ancients in beauty. Franciscus Junius quotes them in his third book “De Pictura Veterum."

This ode has been imitated by Ronsard, Giuliano Goselini, etc. Scaliger alludes to it thus in his Anacreontica:

Olim lepore blando,
litis versibus
candidus Anacreon
quam pingeret amicus

descripsit Venerem suam.
The Teian bard, of former days,
Attuned his sweet descriptive lays,
And taught the painter's hand to trace

His fair beloved's every grace. In the dialogue of Caspar Barlæus, entitled “An formosa sit ducenda,” the reader will find many curious ideas and descriptions of womanly beauty.

2 Thou, whose soft and rosy hues

Mimic form and soul infuse. I have followed here the reading of the Vatican MS. podéns. Painting is called “the rosy art," either in reference to coloring, or as an indefinite epithet of excellence, from the association of beauty with that flower. Salvini has adopted this reading in his literal translation:

Della rosea arte signore. 3 The lovely maid that 's far away. If this portrait of the poet's mistress be not merely ideal, the omission of her name is much

to be regretted. Meleager, in an epigram on Anacreon, mentions “the golden Eurypyle" as his mistress : βεβληκώς χρυσέην χείρας επ’ Ευρυπύλην. 4 Paint her jetty ringlets playing,

Silky locks, like tendrils straying. The ancients have been very enthusiastic in their praises of the beauty of hair. Apuleius, in the second book of his Milesiacs, says that Venus herself, if she were bald, though surrounded by the Graces and the Loves, could not be pleasing even to her husband Vulcan.

Stesichorus gave the epithet kaldet lokanos to the Graces, and Simonides bestowed the same upon the Muses. See Hadrian Junius's “ Dissertation upon Hair." To this

passage of our poet, Selden alluded in a note on the " Polyolbion” of Drayton, Song the Second, where observing, that the epithet “black-haired” was given by some of the ancients to the goddess Isis, he says,

“Nor will I swear, but that Anacreon (a man very judicious in the provoking motives of wanton love), intending to bestow on his sweet mistress that one of the titles of woman's special ornament, wellhaired (kaldiadókamos), thought of this when he gave his painter direction to make her blackhaired.

5 And, if painting hath the skill

To make the spicy balm distil, etc. Thus Philostratus, speaking of a picture: έπαινω και τον ενδροσον των ρόδων, και φημι γέγραφθαι αυτά μετά της οσμής. “ I admire the dewiness of these roses, and could say that their very smell was painted."


ODE XVII.6 And now with all thy pencil's truth, Portray Bathyllus, lovely youth ! Let his hair, in masses bright, Fall like floating rays of light;7 And there the raven's die confuse With the golden sunbeam's hues.

1 Mixt with the liquid light that lies

In Cytherea's languid eyes. Marchetti explains thus the vypov of the original :

Dipingili umidetti

Tremuli e lascivetti, Quai gli ha Ciprigna l'alma Dea d'Amore.

Tasso has painted in the same manner the eyes of Armida :

Qual raggio in onda le scintilla un riso
Negli umidi occhi tremulo e lascivo.

Within her humid, melting eyes
A brilliant ray of laughter lies,
Soft as the broken solar beam,

That trembles in the azure stream. The mingled expression of dignity and tenderness, which Anacreon requires the painter to infuse into the eyes of his mistress, is more amply described in the subsequent ode. Both descriptions are so exquisitely touched, that the artist must have been great indeed, if he did not yield in painting to the poet.

2 Mingling tints, as when there glows

In snowy milk the bashful rose.
Thus Propertius, eleg. 3. lib. ii.

Utque rose puro lacte natant folia.
And Davenant, in little poem called “The

Catch as it falls the Scythian snow,

Bring blushing roses steept in milk. Thus too Taygetus :Quæ lac atque rosas vincis candore rubenti. These last words may perhaps defend the flushing white” of the translation.

3 Then her lip, so rich in blisses,

Sweet petitioner for kisses. The "lip, provoking kisses,” in the original, is a strong and beautiful expression. Achilles Tatius speaks of χείλη μαλθακά προς τα φιλήMata, " Lips soft and delicate for kissing.” A grave old commentator, Dionysius Lambinus, in his notes upon Lucretius, tells us with the

apparent authority of experience, that “Suavius viros osculantur puellæ labiosæ, quam quæ sunt brevibus labris.And Æneas Sylvius, in his tedious uninteresting story of the loves of Euryalus and Lucretia, where he particularizes the beauties of the heroine (in a very false and labored style of latinity), describes her lips thus: “Os parvum decensque, labia corallini coloris ad morsum aptissima.Epist. 114. lib. i.

4 Next, beneath the velvet chin,

Whose dimple hides a Love within,'etc. Madame Dacier has quoted here two pretty lines of Varro:

Sigilla in mento impressa Amoris digitulo vestigio demonstrant mollitudinem.

In her chin is a delicate dimple,

By Cupid's own finger imprest;
There Beauty, bewitchingly simple,

Has chosen her innocent nest.
5 Now let a floating, lucid veil,

Shadow her form, but not conceal; etc. This delicate art of description, which leaves imagination to complete the picture, has been seldom adopted in the imitations of this beautiful poem. Ronsard is exceptionally minute ; and Politianus, in his charming portrait of a girl, full of rich and exquisite diction, has lifted the veil rather too much. The questo che tu m' intendishould be always left to fancy.

6 The reader, who wishes to acquire an accurate idea of the judgment of the ancients in beauty, will be indulged by consulting Junius's De Pictura Veterum,” lib. 3. cap. 9., where he will find a very curious selection of descriptions and epithets of personal perfections. Junius compares this ode with a description of Theodoric, king of the Goths, in the second epistle, first book, of Sidonius Apollinaris.

7 Let his hair, in masses bright,

Fall like floating rays of light; etc. He here describes the sunny hair, the flava coma, which the ancients so much admired. The Romans gave this color artificially to their hair. See STANISL. KOBIENZYCK, “De Luxu Romanorum.'

[ocr errors]

That Eloquence would claim her own;4
And let the lips, though silent, wear
A life-look, as if words were there.5

Let no wreath, with artful twine,1
The flowing of his locks confine;
But leave them loose to every breeze,
To take what shape and course they

Beneath the forehead, fair as snow,
But flushed with manhood's early glow,
*And guileless as the dews of dawn,2
Let the majestic brows be drawn,
Of ebon hue, enriched by gold,
Such as dark, shining snakes unfold.
Mix in his eyes the power alike,
With love to win, with awe to strike;3
Borrow from Mars his look of ire,
From Venus her soft glance of fire;
Blend them in such expression here,
That we by turns may hope and fear !

Next thou his ivory neck must trace, Moulded with soft but manly grace; Fair as the neck of Paphia's boy, Where Paphia's arms have hung in joy. Give him the winged Hermes' hand,6 With which he waves his snaky wand; Let Bacchus the broad chest supply, And Leda's son the sinewy thigh; While, through his whole transparent

frame, Thou show'st the stirrings of that flame,

[blocks in formation]

1 Let no wreath, with artful twine, etc. If the original here, which is particularly beautiful, can admit of any additional value, that value is conferred by Gray's admiration of it. See his letters to West.

Some annotators have quoted on this passage the description of Photis's hair in Apuleius; but nothing can be more distant from the simplicity of our poet's manner, than that affectation of richness which distinguishes the style of Apuleius. 2 But flushed with manhood's early glow,

And guileless as the dews of dawn, etc. Torrentius, upon the words “insignem tenui fronte,” in Horace, Od. 33., lib. 1., is of opinion, incorrectly, I think, that “tenuihere bears the Same meaning as the word απαλόν. . 3 Mix in his eyes the power alike,

With love to win, with awe to strike ; etc. Tasso gives a similar character to the eyes of Clorinda : —

Lampeggiar gli occhi, e folgorar gli sguardi
Dolci nell'ira.
Her eyes were flashing with a heavenly heat,
A fire that, even in anger, still was sweet.

The poetess Veronica Cambara is more diffuse upon this variety of expression:

Occhi lucenti e belli,
Come esser puo ch' in un medesmo istante
Nascan de voi si nuove forme et tante ?
Lieti, mesti, superbi, humil', altieri,
Vi mostrate in un punto, onde di speme,
Et di timor, de empiete, etc.

Oh! tell me, brightly-beaming eye, Whence in your little orbit lie So many different traits of fire, Expressing each a new desire. Now with pride or scorn you darkle, Now with love, with gladness, sparkle, While we who view the varying mirror, Feel by turns both hope and terror. Chevreau, citing the lines of our poet, in his critique on the poems of Malherbe, produces a Latin version of them from a manuscript which he had seen, entitled “ Joan. Falconis Anacreontici Lusus."

4 That Eloquence would claim her own.

In the original, as in the preceding ode, Peitho, the goddess of persuasion, or eloquence. It was worthy of the delicate imagination of the Greeks to deify Persuasion, and give her the lips for her throne. We are here reminded of a very interesting fragment of Anacreon, preserved by the scholiast upon Pindar, and supposed to belong to a poem reflecting with some severity on Simonides, who was the first, we are told, that ever made a hireling of his muse :

Ουδ' αργυρέη ποτ' έλαμψε Πείθω.
Nor yet had fair Persuasion shone

In silver splendors, not her own.
5 And let the lips, though silent, wear

A life-look, as if words were there.
In the original ladôv olors. The mistress of
Petrarch parla con silenzio, which is perhaps
the best method of female eloquence.

6 Give him the winged Hermes' land, etc.

In Shakespeare's “Cymbeline "there is a similar method of description :

this is his hand,
His foot mercurial, his martial thigh,

The brawns of Hercules. We find it likewise in “Hamlet.” Longepierre thinks that the hands of Mercury are selected by Anacreon on account of the graceful gestures which were supposed to characterize the god of eloquence; but Mercury was also the patron of thieves, and may perhaps be praised as a lightfingered deity.

Which kindles, when the first love-sigh Steals from the heart, unconscious why.

Drop them o'er my brow in showers.
Scarce a breathing chaplet now
Lives upon my feverish brow;
Every dewy rose I wear
Sheds its tears, and withers there.4
But to you, my burning heart,
What can now relief impart?
Can brimming bowl, or flowret's dew,
Cool the flame that scorches you?

But sure thy pencil, though so bright, Is envious of the eye's delight, Or its enamoured touch would show The shoulder, fair as sunless snow, Which now in veiling shadow lies, Removed from all but Fancy's eyes. Now, for his feet — but hold — for

bear I see the sun-god's portrait there;1 Why paint Bathyllus? when, in truth, There, in that god, thou'st sketched the

youth. Enough let this bright form be mine, And send the boy to Samos' shrine; Phoebus shall then Bathyllus be, Bathyllus then, the deity!

Now the star of day is high,
Fly, my girls, in pity fly,
Bring me wine in brimming urns, 2
Cool my lip, it burns, it burns !
Sunned by the meridian fire,
Panting, languid I expire.
Give me all those humid flowers, 3

1 but hold -- forbear -

I see the sun-god's portrait there. The abrupt turn here is spirited, but requires some explanation. While the artist is pursuing the portrait of Bathyllus, Anacreon, we must suppose, turns round and sees a picture of Apollo, which was intended for ar. altar at Samos. He then instantly tells the painter to cease his work; that this picture will serve for Bathyllus ; and that, when he goes to Samos, he may make an Apollo of the portrait of the boy which he had begun.

Bathyllus" (says Madame Dacier) “could not be more elegantly praised, and this one passage does him more honor than the statue, however beautiful it might be, which Polycrates raised to him."

2 Bring me wine in brimming urns, etc. Original πιείν άμυστί. The amystis was a method of drinking used among the Thracians. Thus Horace, Threiciâ vincat amystide Mad. Dacier, Longepierre, etc.

Parrhasius, in his twenty-sixth epistle (“ Thesaur. Critic.” vol. i.), explains the amystis as a draught to be exhausted without drawing breath, uno haustu. A note in the margin of this epistle of Parrhasius says, Politianus vestem esse putabat, but adds no reference.

3 Give me all those humid flowers, etc. According to the original reading of this line, the poet says,

Give me the flower of wine".

Date flosculos Lyæi, as it is in the version of Elias Andreas; and

Deh porgetimi del fiore

Di quel almo e buon liquore, as Regnier has it, who supports the reading. The word ävoos would undoubtedly bear this application, which is somewhat similar to its import in the epigram of Simonides upon Sophocles :

έσβέσθης γέραιε Σοφόκλεες, άνθος αοιδών: and flos in the Latin is frequently applied in the same manner — thus Cethegus is called by Ennius, Flos inlibatus populi, suadæque medulla, “The immaculate flower of the people, and the very marrow of persuasion." See these verses cited by Aulus Gellius, lib. xii., which Cicero praised, and Seneca thought ridiculous.

But in the passage before us, if we admit exeivwv, according to Faber's conjecture, the sense is sufficiently clear, without having recourse to such refinements.

4 Every dewy rose I wear

Sheds its tears, and withers there. There are some beautiful lines, by Angerianus, upon a garland, which I cannot resist quoting here: Ante fores madida sic sic pendete corolla,

mane orto imponet Calia vos capiti; at quum per niveam cervicem influxerit humor.

dicite, non roris sed pluvia hæc lacrimæ. By Celia's arbor all the night

Hang, humid wreath, the lover's vow; And haply, at the morning light,

My love shall twine thee round her brow. Then, if upon her bosom bright

Some drops of dew shall fall from thee, Tell her, they are not drops of night,

But tears of sorrow shed by me! In the poem of Mr. Sheridan's, “Uncouth is this moss-covered grotto of stone," there is an idea very singularly coincident with this of Angerianus: And thou, stony grot, in thy arch may'st preserve

Some lingering drops of the night-fallen dew; Let them fall on her bosom of snow, and they 'll As tears of my sorrow entrusted to you.

5 But to you, my burning heart, etc. The transition here is peculiarly delicate and impassioned; but the commentators have perplexed the sentiment by a variety of readings and conjectures.


ODE XX.4 One day the Muses twined the hands Of infant Love with flowery bands; And to celestial Beauty gave The captive infant for her slave. His mother comes, with many a toy,

ODE XIX.1 HERE recline you, gentle maid, 2 Sweet is this embowering shade; Sweet the young, the modest trees, Ruffled by the kissing breeze; Sweet the little founts that weep, Lulling soft the mind to sleep; Hark! they whisper as they roll, Calm persuasion to the soul; Tell me, tell me, is not this All a stilly scene of bliss ? Who, my girl, would pass it by? Surely neither you nor 1.3

[blocks in formation]

4 The poet appears, in this graceful allegory, to describe the softening influence which poetry holds over the mind, in making it peculiarly susceptible to the impressions of beauty..

In the following epigram, however, by the philosopher Plato (Diog. Laert. lib. 3.), the Muses are represented as disavowing the influence of Love. & Κύπρις Μούσαισι, κοράσια τάν Αφροδίταν

τίματ, ή τον Έρωτα ύμμιν εφοπλίσομαι. αι Μουσαι ποτί Κύπριν, 'Αρει τα στόμυλα ταύτα:

ημίν ου πέταται τούτο το παιδάριον. “Yield to my gentle power, Parnassian maids ;” Thus to the Muses spoke the Queen of

Charms Or Love shall flutter through your classic

shades, And make your grove the camp of Paphian

arms !"

1 The description of this bower is so natural ind animated, that we almost feel a degree of coolness and freshness while we peruse it. Longepierre has quoted from the first book of the Anthologia the following epigram, as somewhat resembling this ode: έρχεο και κατ' εμάν ζευ πίτυς και το μελιχρόν

προς μαλακούς ήχει κεκλιμένα ζεφύρους. ηνίδε και κρούνισμα μελισταγές, ένθα μελίσδων ήδύν έρημαίοις ύπνον άγω καλάμοις. . Come, sit by the shadowy pine

That covers my sylvan retreat ;
And see how the branches incline

The breathing of zephyr to meet.
See the fountain, that, flowing, diffuses

Around me a glittering spray;
By its brink, as the traveller muses,
'I soothe him to sleep with my lay.

2 Here recline you, gentle maid, etc. The Vatican MS. reads Balúdov, which renders the whole poem metaphorical. Some commentator suggests the reading of Bábuidov, which makes a pun upon the name; a grace that Plato himself has condescended to in writing of his boy’AgTp. See the epigram of this philosopher, which I quote on the twenty-second ode.

There is another epigram by this philosopher, preserved in Laertius, which turns upon the same word. Αστήρ πριν μεν έλαμπες ένι ζώοισιν εώος, νύν δε βανων λάμπεις έσπερος εν φθιμένοις. . In life thou wert my morning star,

But now that death has stolen thy light,
Alas! thou shinest dim and far,

Like the pale beam that weeps at night. In the Veneres Blyenburgicæ, under the head of “ Allusiones,” we find a number of such frigid conceits upon names, selected from the poets of the middle ages.

3 Who, my girl, would pass it by ?

Surely neither you nor I. The finish given to the picture by this simple exclamation τίς αν ούν όρων παρέλθοι, is inimitable. Yet a French translator says on the passage, “This conclusion appeared to me too

No," said the virgins of the tuneful bower, We scorn thine own and all thy urchin's art; Though Mars has trembled at the infant's power,

His shaft is pointless o'er a Muse's heart!"

There is a sonnet by Benedetto Guidi, the thought of which was suggested by this ode: – Scherzava dentro all' auree chiome A more

Dell' alma donna della vita mia : E tanta era il piacer ch' ei ne sentia,

Che non sapea, volea uscirne fore.
Quando ecco ivi annodar si sente il core,

Si, che per forza ancor convien che stia :
Tai lacci alta beltate orditi avia

Del crespo crin, per farsi eterno onore.
Onde offre infin dal ciel degna mercede,

A chi scioglie il figliuol la bella dea

Da tanti nodi, in ch' ella stretti il vede. Ma ei vinto a due occhi l'arme cede :

Et t' affatichi indarno, Citerea ;

Che s'altri'l scioglie, egli a legar si riede
Love, wandering through the golden maze

Of my beloved's hair,
Found, at each step, such sweet delays,

That rapt he lingered there.
And how, indeed, was Love to fly

Or how his freedom find,
When every ringlet was a tie,

A chain, by Beauty twined.
In vain to seek her boy's release,

Comes Venus from above:
Fond mother, let thy efforts cease,

Love's now the slave of Love.
And, should we loose his golden chain,
The prisoner would return again!

« PoprzedniaDalej »