1823
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Stanzas translated from Daphnis and Chloe.]

Knight's Quarterly Magazine 1 (October 1823) 292-95.

Henry Malden


Eleven Spenserian stanzas signed "Hamilton Murray" translated from the Greek of Longus.

Author's note: "In our translations we have endeavoured to retain every turn of thought by adhering closely to the original; but all persons familiar with the ancient writers must be aware how impossible it is to convey at the same time any notion of the beauty of the language. We have already alluded to the allegorical narrative of Philetas as one of the most fanciful passages of the work. It is literally translated [by Leigh Hunt?] in The Liberal; but it possesses so much poetical beauty, that we will venture to present as close and simple a version of it as we can, in the stanza which the custom of our own poetry has consecrated to allegory" p. 292.

Henry Malden (1800-1876) of Trinity College, Cambridge was afterwards professor of Greek at University College, London.

John Wilson: "SHEPHERD. Oh! Mister North — my dear freen', I was sorry, very sorry when Knight's Quarterly Magazine took a pain in its head, and gied a wamle ower the counter in the dead-thraws. It was rather incomprehensible to me, for the maist part, wi' its Italian literature, and the lave o't; but the contributors were a set o' spunkie chiels — collegians, as I understan', frae Cambridge College. What's become o' them now that their Journal is dead? NORTH. I think I see them, like so many resurrection men, digging up the Album. Yes, Hogg, they are clever, accomplished chaps, with many little pleasing impertinencies of their own, and may make a figure. How asinine, not to have marched a levy en masse into Ebony's sanctum sanctorum! HOGG. I never thocht o' that before. So it was. But then we behave so cavalierly to contributors!" Blackwood's Magazine (March 1825) in Noctes Ambrosianae (1857) 2:56.



Then in their joyaunce came a man of eld,
With shagged cloak to keep him from the cold,
And untanned shoon, and little scrip which held
His scanty dinner, and his scrip was old.
Straight sitting down by them, his name he told,
The old Philetas; how, when he was young,
He piped to Pan beneath the sheltering fold,
Or filled this grotto of the nymphs with song;
And how his many kine would to his music throng.

And now, he said, fair children, ye shall hear
Of a strange marvel that to me befel.
I have a garden, laden all the year:
Too old as herdsman in the fields to dwell,
With my own hands I till it passing well:
In spring the ground with violets is strown,
And sweet my hyacinths and lillies smell;
And summer apples weigh my branches down;
And now are grapes and figs and myrtle-berries brown.

When morning sparkles through the misty air,
The little birds in many a merry throng
Will flock in search of food and settle there,
Or pipe their matin notes the boughs among:
For there, full fit for forest warbler's song.
Trees arch their branches o'er the secret shade;
Three bubbling fountains roll their rills along;
And, but for fence around the garden made,
Some copse it well might seem, or wilder woodland glade.

And there at noontide as I went to-day,
Beneath the myrtle and pomegranate trees,
With myrtle-berries was a boy at play,
As white as milk; and with luxurious ease
His sunny ringlets idled on the breeze;
Alone he sported in his careless joy;
And fain would I the truant urchin seize;
For much I feared, that little naked boy
My tender myrtles and pomegranates would destroy.

But lightly he escaped, and laughing fled;
For underneath the rose-trees he would run,
Or closely nestling in the poppy-bed,
Like a young partridge, his pursuer shun.
When kids and calves to leave their dams begun,
Full oft I followed them in weary chase,
And little good and mickle trouble won;
But never kid or calf from place to place
So led my doubling steps in such a bootless race.

All breathless therefore on my staff I lean
And watching held the little thief at bay,
And asked whose child he was, and what he meant,
By plucking all the fruit that round him lay?
He answered nothing, but in roguish play
With myrtle-berries pelted me and smiled;
And nearer came, and smiled in such a way—
I know not how — he was so fair a child,
That, angry as I was, my anger was beguiled.

More lovely seemed he as he laughed, I wis:
So then I bade him be afraid no more,
But come and kiss me with one little kiss;
And by the child's own myrtle-berries swore,
Of pears and apples I would give him store,
And let him pluck my fruit and crop my flowers:
But then he laughed yet louder than before;
More sweet than nightingale in wild wood bowers,
Or swan grown old like me, and in its dying hours.

His laughing voice so musically rung:
"To me, Philetas, would a kiss be sweet;
I love it more than thou wouldst to be young;
But think if kisses for thine age be meet:
For thou wouldst follow me with feeble feet,
If by one kiss upon thy lips I told;
And I than hawk or eagle fly more fleet:
No child am I; though child I seem, more old
Than Cronus, or than Time, or aught men oldest hold.

"And thee I know, how in thy budding days
Thy herd thou feddest in yon marshy mead,
And by those beech-trees listened to thy lays,
To Amaryllis piped upon the reed:
I stood beside her; but thou didst not heed:
Yet her to thee I gave; and now a race
Of goodly sons, full fit the kine to feed,
Around thy hearth-stone throng with gladsome face:
So Daphnis with like care and Chloe now I grace.

"I lead them till they meet at peep of day,
And with long kisses to each other grow;
Then to thy garden wend my lonely way,
And sport with all the flowers that round me blow,
Or revel in thy fountain's fresh'ning flow:
I bathe; and, watered by the hallowed stream,
Leaf, bud, and bloom, with brighter beauty glow:
Nor thou of me as wasteful rifler deem,
Till trampled lie thy flowers, thy fountains troubled seem.

"Farewell; for thou alone canst tell the tale,
That thou this child hast seen, yet wast no young."
He ceased; and, like a new-fledged nightingale,
Upon the myrtles lightsomely he sprung,
And crept from bough to bough the leaves among,
Till on the topmost branch he seemed to soar:
Then wings I saw that o'er his shoulders hung,
Between his wings a little bow he bore;
And then I saw the bow and wings and boy no more.

[pp. 292-95]