Friday, 25 July 2014

Pindar the Australian poet

'On Pindar he once said, "He is a kind of Australian poet; has long tracts of gravel, with immensely large nuggets imbedded." This was in reference to the obscurity and inequality in the Odes: a hasty judgment, perhaps, on that colossal genius, if his work be closely studied as a whole.

One evening, in that upper room which could not be entered without a rising of the heart, a sense of exaltation, as of one admitted to the central shrine of Delphi, he read out off-hand Pindar's great picture of the life of Heaven in the second Olympian into pure modern prose, splendidly lucid and musical. This feat, incomparably more difficult and effective than when the pseudo-poetic facile disguise of some archaic form of language is resorted to, so struck me, that I begged him to think of preparing a version of these all but unique relics of the Greek Heroic Ode for English readers. But he smiled and said that "in his mind the benefit of translation rested with the translator." These were memorable words; but I fancy that ancient poets were at the moment before him.'

Tennyson, Hallam. (2013). p. 241. Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir By His Son (Vol. 4). London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1899).

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