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PIN DARIC ODES,
WRITTEN IN IMITATION OF THE
S T I L E A N D M A N N ER
ODES OF PINDAR.
* Pindarici fontis qui non expalluit haustus.”
Hor. Ep. L. I. 36,
P R E F A C E. IRE
F a man should undertake to translate Pindar word
for word, it would be thought that one mad-man had translated another ; as may appear, when he that understands not the original, reads the verbal traduction of him into Latin prose, than which nothing seems more raving. And sure, rhyme, without the addition of wit, and the spirit of poetry (quod nequeo manstrare, & sentio tantum) would but make it ten times more distracted than it is in profe. We must consider in Pindar the great difference of time betwixt his age and ours, which changes, as in pictures, at least the colours
of poetry; the no less difference betwixt the religions and customs of our countries; and a thousand particularities of places, persons, and manners, which do but confusedly appear to our eyes at fo great a distance. And lastly (which were enough alone for my purpose) we must consider that our ears are strangers to the mufick of his numbers, which sometimes (especially in songs and odes) almost without any thing else, makes an excellent poet; for though the grammarians and criticks have laboured to reduce his vertes into regular feet and measures (as ihey have also those of the Greek and Latin comedies) yet in effect they are little better than prose to our ears. And I would gladly know what applause our best pieces of English poefy could expect from a Frenchman or Italian, if converted faithfully, and word for word, into French or Italian prose. And when we have considered all this, we must needs confefs, that after all these losses sustained by Pindar, all we can add to him by our wit or invention (not deserting still his subject) is not like to make him a richer man than he was in his own country. This is in some measure to be applied to all translations; and the not observing of it, is the cause that all which ever I yet faw, are so much inferior to their originals. The like happens too in pictures, from the same root of exact imitation ; which, being a vile and unworthy kind of servitude, is incapable of producing any thing good or noble. I have seen originals, both in painting and poesy, much more beautiful than their natural ob.