1786
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Salust. Book II. Ode II.

Gentleman's Magazine 56 (July 1786) 601.

Anna Seward


Five irregular Spenserians (ababccdD), one of Anna Seward's adaptations of the odes of Horace. A number of Horatian odes had been written in irregular stanzas earlier in the century, though "Horatian Spenserianism" was on the wane in 1786. The Roman historian Sallust (86-35 BC) had been active in government and the army before spending his later years living in retirement.

Note to "Shall long on cautious wing solititously bear": "For this idea of the expression in Horace, 'penna metuente solvi,' not adopted by the former translations, and which has so much poetic beauty, Miss S. is indebted to the learned and ingenious Archdeacon C—e."

Anna Seward to Richard Polwhele: "My Horatian bagatelles are not a dozen in number, nor have I time to bestow upon an undertaking so fruitless as their completion; 'For, as I'm a sinner, | I as soon should expect a roast phenix for dinner,' as that fifty people in this nation would willingly purchase a new translation of writers so known as either Horace or Theocritus, were it to cost them only five shillings" 27 December 1785; Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections (1826) 1:173.

Robert Wylie King: "Miss Seward, though almost entirely innocent of Latin, has a habit of writing 'poetical paraphrases' of Latin poems based on literal prose renderings supplied by her more learned friends. 'If anything could make me a convert to diffuse translation,' [Henry Francis] Cary says tactfully of one of these productions, 'it would be your version of Horace'" Translator of Dante (1925) 31.



Thou know'st, my Salust, when in hoarded heaps
The miser's chest the glittering coin receives,
Sullen, and dim, and valueless it sleeps;
Gay circulation all its beauty gives.
Ah! then it shines attractive on the thought,
Rises, with such resistless influence fraught,
As puts to flight pale Fear, and Scruple cold,
Till life, ev'n life itself, becomes less dear than gold.

Conscious how strong this charm, thy honour'd name,
Brave Proculeius! Rome, with zeal, adores;
The chief, who bade his ruin'd brothers claim
A filial right in all his well-earn'd stores.
To make the good deed deathless as the great,
With trembling plumes, that dread Icarian fate,
This record Fame, of her high trust aware,
Shall long on cautious wing solititously bear.

And thou, my Sallust, more complete thy sway,
Restraining the insatiate lust of gain,
Than shouldst thou join, by conquest's proud essay,
Iberian hills to Libya's sandy plain;
Than if the Carthage sultry Afric boasts,
With that which smiles on Europe's lovelier coasts,
Before the Roman arms, led on by thee,
Should bow the yielding head, the tributary knee.

See bloated Dropsy added strength acquire,
As the parch'd lip th' incessant goblet drains!
Indulgence feeds th' unsatisfied desire,
That the pure blood with aqueous fluid stains;
Nor can exhausted floods that thirst subdue,
Till the dire cause, which spreads the livid hue,
O'er the pale form, with watry languour swell'd,
From the polluted veins, by medicine, be repell'd.

Virtue, whate'er the babbling vulgar dream,
Denies Phraates, seated on the throne
Of mighty Cyrus, joy's internal gleam;
And thus she checks the crowd's mistaken tone:
"He, only he, who, calmly passing by,
Not once shall turn the pure, unwishing eye
On heaps of massy gold, that near him glare,
My amaranthine wreath, my diadem shall wear!"

[p. 601]