1786
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Valgius. From Horace Book II. Ode II.

Gentleman's Magazine 56 (March 1786) 249.

Anna Seward


Five short-lined Spenserians (ababcC), one of Anna Seward's adaptations of Horace that were appearing in the Gentleman's Magazine at regular intervals. Because Horace's odes were standard fare in grammar schools, translations abounded in newspapers and magazines throughout the century, composed in a variety of lyric stanzas. Seward, who of course had not attended grammar school, worked from translations, assuming a freedom to depart from her source for which there was much precedent at the time.

In the ninth ode of the second book (not the second ode) Horace comforts Valgius, another poet patronized by Maecenus, for this loss of his slave Mystes. This translation follows its original rather closely.

Anna Seward: "I have taken only the poet's general idea, frequently expanding it, to elucidate the sense, and to bring the images more distinctly to the eye; induced by the hope of thus infusing into the Paraphrases the spirit of original composition. Neither have I scrupled to follow the example of Dryden and Pope, by sometimes adding ideas and imagery congenial to the subject, and thus to translate Horace like a poet, rather than a versifier" Poetical Works (1810) 3:223.



Not ceaseless falls the heavy shower,
That drenches deep the furrow'd lea;
Nor do continual tempests pour
On the vex'd Caspian's billowy sea;
Nor yet the ice in silent horror stands,
Thro' all the rolling months, on cold Armenia's lands.

Fierce storms do not for ever bend
Gargania's vast and labouring oak;
Nor from the ash its foliage rend
With ruthless whirls, and widowing stroke;
But, Valgius, thou, with grief's eternal lays,
Mournest thy vanish'd hopes in Mystes' shorten'd days.

When Vesper trembles in the west,
Or flies before the rapid sun,
Rise the lone sorrows of thy breast,
Not thus did aged Nestor shun,
Consoling strains, nor always sought the tomb,
Where sunk his filial hopes in life, and glory's bloom.

Not thus, the lovely Troilus slain,
His parents wept the princely boy;
Nor his fair sisters mourn'd in vain
The blasted flower of sinking Troy.
Then cease thy fond complaints — Augustus' fame,
The new Cesarian wreaths let thy lov'd voice proclaim!

So shall the listening world be told,
Medus, and froze Niphates, guide
(With all their mighty realms control'd)
Their late proud waves in narrower tide;
That in scant space their steeds the Scythians rein,
Nor dare transgress the bounds our victor arms ordain!

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