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I agree with your lordship that a translation perfectly close is impossible, because time has sunk the original strict import of a thousand phrases, and we have no means of recovering it. But if we cannot be unimpeachably faithful, that is no reason why we should not be as faithful as we can; and if blank verse affords the fairest chance, then it claims the preference.

Your lordship, I will venture to say, can command me nothing in which I will not obey with the greatest alacrity.

Ει δυναμαι τελεσαι γε, και ει τετελεσμενον εστι.

But when, having made as close a translation as even you can invent, you enjoin me to make it still closer, and in rhyme too, I can only reply, as Horace to Augustus,

cupidum, pater optime, vires


I have not treacherously departed from my pattern that I might seem to give some proof of the justness of my own opinion, but have fairly and honestly adhered as closely to it as I could. Yet your lordship will not have to compliment me on my success, either in respect of the poetical merit of iny lines, or of their fidelity. They have just enough of each to make them deficient in the other.



Oh Phoenix, father, friend, guest sent from Jove'
Me no such honours as they yield can move,
For I expect my honours from above.
Here Jove has fix'd me; and while breath and sense
Have place within me, I will never hence.
Hear, too, and mark me well—haunt not mine ears
With sighs, nor seek to melt me with thy tears
For yonder chief, lest, urging such a plea
Through love of him, thou hateful prove to me.
Thy friendship for thy friend shall brighter shine,
Wounding his spirit, who has wounded mine.
Divide with me the honours of my throne—
These shall return, and make their tidings known,
But go not thou—thy couch shall here be dress'd
With softest fleeces for thy easy rest,
And with the earliest blush of op'ning day
We will consult to seek our home, or stay.

Since I wrote these I have looked at Pope's. I am certainly somewhat closer to the original than he, but farther I say not. I shall wait with impatience for your lordship's conclusions from these premises, and remain, in the mean time, with great

truth, my lord, &c. W. C.


Dear Cowper—I have received your letter on my journey through London, and as the chaise waits I shall be short. I did not mean it as a sign of any presumption that you have attempted what neither Dryden nor Pope would have dared; but merely as a proof of their addiction to rhyme; for I am clearly convinced that Homer may be better translated than into rhyme, and that you have succeeded in the places I have looked into. But I have fancied that it might have been still more literal, preserving the ease of genuine English and melody, and some degree of that elevation which Homer derives from simplicity. But I could not do it, or even near enough to form a judgment, or more than a fancy about it. Nor do I fancy it could be done “stans pede in uno.” But when the mind has been fully impregnated with the original passage, often revolving it, and waiting for a happy moment, may still be necessary to the

best trained mind. Adieu. Thurlow.


My Lord—I haunt you with letters, but will trouble you now with a short line, only to tell your lordship how happy I am that any part of my work has pleased you. I have a comfortable consciousness that the whole has been executed with equal industry and attention; and am, my lord, with many thanks to you for snatching such a hasty moment to write to me, your lordship's obliged and

affectionate humble servant,
W. CowPER.

These letters cannot fail to be read with great interest.

Having in a former part of this work contrasted the two versions of Cowper and Pope, we shall now close the subject, by quoting Cowper's translation of some well-known and admired passages in the original poem. The classical reader will thus be enabled to determine how far the poet has succeeded in the application of his own principle, and retained the bold and lofty spirit of Homer, while he aims at transfusing his noble simplicity, and adhering strictly to his genuine meaning We have selected the following speci


Hector extending his arms to caress his son Astyanax, in his interview with Andromache :

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The hero ended, and his hands put forth
To reach bis boy; but with a scream the child
Still closer to his nurse's bosom clung,
Shunning his touch; for dreadful in his eyes
The brazen armour shone, and dreadful more
The sbaggy crest, that swept his father's brow.
Both parents smild, delighted; and the chief
Set down the crested terror on the ground,
Then kiss'd him, play'd away his infant fears,
And thus to Jove, and all the Pow'rs above:
Grant, O ye gods ! such eminent renown
And might in arms, as ye have giv'n to me,
To this my son, with strength to govern Troy.
From fight return'd, be this his welcome home-
“ He far excels his sire"--and may be rear
The crimson trophy, to his mother's joy !*

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For two other versions of this passage, see Letters, dated Dec. 17, 1793, and Jan. 5, 1794.

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He spake, and to his lovely spouse consign'd
The darling boy; with mingled smiles and tears
She wrapp'd him in her bosom's fragrant folds,
And Hector, pang'd with pity that she wept,
Her dewy cheek strok'd softly, and began.
Weep not for me, my love! no mortal arm
Shall send me prematurely to the shades,
Since, whether brave or dastard, at his birth
The fates ordain to each his hour to die.
Hence, then, to our abode; there weave or spin,
And task thy maidens. War to men belongs;
To all of Troy; and most of all to me.

Book vi. line 524.

The fatal conflict between Hector and Achilles :

So saying, his keen falchion from his side
He drew, well temper'd, ponderous, and rush'd
At once to combat. As the eagle darts
Right downward through a sullen cloud to seize
Weak lamb or tim’rous hare, so he to fight
Impetuous sprang, and shook his glitt'ring blade.
Achilles opposite, with fellest ire
Full-fraught came on; his shield with various art
Divine portray'd, o'erspread his ample chest;
And on his radiant casque terrific wav'd,
By Vulcan spun, his crest of bushy gold,
Bright as, among the stars, the star of all
Most splendid, Hesperus, at midnight moves;
So in the right hand of Achilles beam'd
His brandish'd spear, while, meditating woe
To Hector, he explor'd his noble form,
Seeking where he was vulnerable most.
But ev'ry part, his dazzling armour, torn
From brave Patroclus' body, well secur'd,
Save where the circling key-bone from the neck
Disjoins the shoulder; there his throat appear'd,
Whence injur'd life with swiftest flight escapes.

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