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GATHERED FROM THE
“ The cloudcapt monuments of mighty kings and captains crumble into dust and mingle with the nameless ashes of those who reared them; but we know perhaps the name and even the colour of the hair and eyes of some humble shepherd's mistress who brushed through the dew to meet her lover's kiss, when the rising sun glittered on the golden images that crowned the palace roof of Semiramis. Fleets and navies are overwhelmed and forgotten, but some tiny love freighted argosy, launched (like those of the Hindoo maidens) upon the stream of time in days now behind the horizon, floats down to us with its frail lamp yet burning. Theories for which great philosophers wore their hearts out, histories over which the eyes of wise men ached for weary years, creeds for which bundreds underwent an exulting martyrdom, poems wbicb had once quickened the beating of the world's great heart, and the certainty of whose deathlessness bad made death sweet to the poet - all these bave mouldered to nothing; but some word of love, some outvent of a sorrow which baply filled only one pair of eyes with tears, these seem to have become a part of earth's very lifeblood.”
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
ERHAPS, however, the true secret of their charm is
this ; that in their couplets, after listening to the
choric raptures of triumphant public art, we turn aside to hear the private utterances, the harmoniously mod. ulated whispers of a multitude of Greek poets telling us their inmost thoughts and feelings. The unique melodies of Meleager, the chaste and exquisite delicacy of Callimachus, the clear dry style of Straton, Plato's unearthly subtlety of phrase, Antipater's perfect polish, the good sense of Palladas, the fretful sweetness of Agathias, the purity of Simonides, the gravity of Poseidippus, the pointed grace of Philip, the few but mellow tones of Sappho and Erinna, the tenderness of Simmias, the biting wit of Lucillius, the sunny radiance of Theocritus --- all these good things are ours in the Anthology. But beyond these perfumes of the poets known to fame is yet another. Over very many of the sweetest and the strongest of the epigrams is written the pathetic word ådéo TOTOV—'without a master.' Hail to you, dead poets, unnamed, but dear to the Muses ! Surely with Pindar and Anacreon, with Sappho and with Sophocles, the bed of flowers is spread for you in those 'black-petalled hollows of Pieria' where you bade Euripides farewell.”
JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS.
THE GREEK ANTHOLOGY.
ERHAPS scholars have heard and read
quite enough about the Greek Anthology. It has become historical, as all collected poems do, a storehouse not unlocked unless to group or edit the contents; this record of the manifold life of a thousand years has been made into a book, and has lost some of its vitality in the making. There is plenty of question about the different anthologies, and some little about the separate authors and their poems. But, on the other hand, poetry-lovers, and specially lovers of songs, hardly know how many of their favourites are there in original form. English people who love Herrick and Ben Jonson do not all know that Meleager was in love with daffodils, and wrote about the wreath he made of them very much as Herrick would have done; that Agaihias as good as wrote • Drink to me only with thine eyes' (the first verse of it at least, and the second is to be found unfathered in the fifth book of the Anthology: too); and that, to speak in
1 The references throughout are to the Anthologia Palatina (instruxit Fred. Dübner, Paris, 1864).
reverse order of time, Mrs. Browning and Shakespeare and Spenser can all be quoted in it. There are epigrams with the stamp of each upon the face of them.
These lovers of songs — they may not care for history, and are very likely quite ignorant of Herrick's life and Jonson's — will not want to hear much about the songwriters themselves; and there is not much to tell. Herrick' and ` Jonson' are to them respectively the names of a good many and a few well-known and well-loved verses, and so should Callimachus, for instance, and Agathias and of course Meleager be; and that would be a great deal better fame for these poets than that students only should know about them as represented by certain numbers in the great drift-heap of the Anthology. Plato and Simonides have their better fame elsewhere, and are not in such risk of being laid by. This, then, is what I want to give - some readable little English poems written to all intents and purposes a great while ago in Greek. An accurate recognition of each poet as an individual cannot perhaps be made out of the original language, scarcely even there; but just as Keats by his temperament met Homer halfway in Chapman, lovers of the Elizabethan poets and of modern poetry, as well as Greek scholars or better, can meet these very men with their sweethearts and their garlands.in their habit as they lived' so many hundred years gone by.
Now, for us to do this with ease and pleasure, we must meet them under some guise familiar to us and not dull. This brings us to the question of metres. With our ears accustomed to such a great number of lyric forms, we must have variety above all else. For different subjects we want different keys and different time as in music. We have a strong instance of this in Tennyson's work. For the monotone of sorrow he takes one grave metre, but in · Maud,' where the movement is as complex as life's, he varies the metres to correspond with it as best may
be. The translator who would use one metre for these Greek epigrams, would have written · Maud' in couplets. Hexameters and pentameters and occasional iambics are the metres of the Anthology, but they are not familiar to us and never will be, unless combined with rhyme (and always the more