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rhyme the better), when they present as good a means as can be found for faithful and rhythmical translations; and heroic couplets which to us take the place of the longer lines to the Greek ear are generally dull. There is no denying that. Take up any book of unbroken couplets, and it will certainly prove less inviting than it could possibly have done in any other form, blank verse included. It is true that in English literature heroic couplets do best clothe the epigram; but then we must bear this in mind — what is nearest to our sympathies in the work of these so-called

epigrammatic' poets is not, as we now speak, epigrammatic at all. Many of the verses are rhetorical exercises, jokes and so forth ; but even of these (as Mr. Symonds has shown in his Greek Poets) most, though they have the point of an epigram, have not its sting, Meleager's wreath of songs' was a collection of lyrics, most of them short and nearly all memorable, but their incisiveness is very different from the precision we look for in an epigram; they are not forced or witty, many of them just idylls. In our English with its wide vocabulary, and if he had been writing for print and not for graving, it is not perhaps impertinent to suppose that he and his fellows, if not his predecessors, would have chosen the sonnet form. For the sonnet with its beautiful order, its strict rules, any one of which broken is an offence to the cultivated ear, and with the manifold changes of tone, the simplicity and the neatness which it admits, is really our best equivalent for the eight or ten hexameters and pentameters in which most of our favourite Greek epigrams are contained. As it is, a translator cannot render these into sonnets without a little undue expansiveness; but where the epigram is of fourteen lines or even twelve, he may fairly cast it into a sonnet, as I shall hope to show in one or two examples by-and-by.

To rondels and other moulds, so to speak, for English verse, we are not accustomed. I am afraid, if I were to try these, I should not be simple enough for a translator. The charm of a rondel is its artificial grace, delighting the eye and ear. The charm of a translation in verse is that the verse should neither load the sense nor tangle it. So I have not inserted any rondels, the most delicate webs of love-song possible.

We need not hesitate over the story of the Anthology as it has come down to us; Mr. Symonds has made it all interesting already, and what matters to us is that we have the poems in their original form. Being fugitive pieces, they will speak for themselves. We don't want to say, “ Now all this was a man's diathesis, and here is his heart-beat, but • Here is this man's heart-beat: judge his diathesis.'

The first collection that was made of Greek epigrams was Meleager's, just before the Christian era, and his way of collecting them is quite the most charming of all. He gathers the songs into a wreath, as he calls it, giving to each poet a symbolic flower; and though he gives all sorts of flowers, for health, and rest, and pleasuring, he gives no poppy to any one, which we must take to mean that they are none of them dull. This is how he introduces them: I have put the preface into blank verse, to preserve the quantities for any one who cares to read it, not because among so many names strange to us we can hope to see all the pretty touches of the poem.


For whom the fruitage of this strain, my Muse,
And who among the bards hath made this wreath ?
Meleager wove it, and his weaving gives
For keepsake to most noble Diocles.
Here many lilies are of Anyte,
And white lilies of Mæro, many an one,
And Sappho's flowers - so few but roses all
And daffodils of Melanippides
Heavy with ringing hymns - and thy young branch,
Vine of Simonides, and twisted in
Nossis, thine iris flower that breathes of myrrh,
And in its tablets are Love's stores of wax.
Herewith, Rhianus' scented marjoram,
And the sweet crocus of Erinna too
Clear as the girl's own skin-and hyacinth,
Alcæus' hyacinth that speaks to bards -
And a dark spray of Samius' laurel tree,
Fresh ivy-clusters of Leonidas,
And foliage of Mnesalcus' needled pine.
And from the plane-tree song of Pamphilus
He cut a branch, and with the walnut boughs
Of Pancrates he twined it, and white leaves
Of Tymnes' poplar. Nicias' green mint
And sandwort of Euphemus from the shore ;
And Damagetus' purple violet,
And the sweet myrtle of Callimachus
Full of sharp honey - with Euphorion's flower.
The lychnis and, therewith, his cyclamen,
The Muses call after the sons of Zeus.

This is Dioscorides'. We must find one epigram of his, at all


And Hegesippus' maddening grape-cluster
He set therein, and Persus' scented flag
And a sweet apple from Diotimus' tree -
Pomegranate flowers of Menecrates,
And the myrrh branches of Nicænetus,
Phaennus' flax plant - Simmias' tall wild pear.
And a few leaves he pulled of Parthenis
Her delicate meadow-parsley, and - gleanings fair
Of the honey.dropping muses - golden ears
From the wheat-harvest of Bacchylides.
And old Anacreon — that sweet strain of his,
An unsown flowerage of his nectar songs :
And the rough white-thorn of Archilochus
He gathered from the pasture -as it were.
Only a few drops from a sea of bloom-
Young shoots of Alexander's olive grown
And Polycleitus’ dark blue cornflower. There
He set Polystratus the amaracus,
The poets' flower, and from Antipater
A young Phænician cypress : and therewith
Eared Syrian spikenard which he gathered him
Out of his singing they call Hermes' gift.
That is Hermodorus. There is only one
epigram of his in the Anthology, a beautiful
one upon a statue of Athene:
And Poseidippus too, and Hædulus-
Flowers of the field - and windflowers springing glad
In airs Sicilian,
(that is a periphrasis for Asclepias perhaps,
for these flowers are for the poets of country
life) —

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