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held to have been in a remote connection the parent of the poetry of common life, for he undoubtedly exerted a strong influence on Cowper. I do not think it is too much to say that Cowper's best contributions to literature, his exquisite lyrics on birds and hares and dogs, which will live when “The Task" and "Tirocinium" have gone down to the dust, would never have been written had it not been for Vincent Bourne. In the year 1750, the future of English poetry was dark; there were only two considerable writers at work, Gray and Collins. There was, it is true, a certain respectful attitude to nature prevalent, but it was a conventional attitude. Cowper, as I believe inspired by Bourne, was the first to make it unconventional. Then came the sweet notes of Burns across the border, and the victory was won
Let me now give a few instances of Bourne. First must come “The Jackdaw," and I have given Cowper's rendering ; but I have also ventured to subjoin a version of my own, not because I challenge even the most distant comparison with Cowper's sparkling and graceful lyric, but because Cowper's is in no sense a translation. It is a poem of which the line of thought is suggested by Bourne, and at a few points touches the Latin poem ; but the turn, the colouring is Cowper's own. In my own translation, though I have several times sacrificed verbal
accuracy, I have endeavoured to keep as closely to the Latin as is consistent with writing English at all.
Nigras inter aves avis est, quæ plurima turres,
Antiquas ædes, celsaque fana colit.
Nil tam sublime est, quod non audace volatu,
Aeriis spernens inferiora, petit,
Quo nemo ascendat, cui non vertigo cerebrum
Corripiat, certe hunc seligit illa locum.
Quo vix a terra tu suspicis absque tremore,
Illa metus expers incolumisque sedet.
Lamina delubri supra fastigia, ventus
Qua coeli spiret de regione, docet ;
Hanc ea præ reliquis mavult, secura pericli,
Nec curat, nedum cogitat, unde cadat.
Res inde humanas, sed summa per otia, spectat,
Et nihil ad sese, quas videt, esse videt.
Concursus spectat, plateaque negotia in omni,
Omnia pro nugis at sapienter habet.
High fanes he seeks ; with daring flight
Aspires, despising aught but height;
He sits where mortals mount with pain
Of reeling pulse and dizzy brain ;
And where you shudder with alarm,
He's perched aloft, and free from harm.
The vane that on the steeple shows
Whither and whence the free wind blows,
He choosing, owns no care at all,
Much less is careful lest be fall ;
And thence in lofty ease surveys
Mankind's inexplicable ways.
He sees the streets, the concourse dim,
They hold no interest for him;
And if some murmur upward floats
He beeds not, but with pensive notes
Beguiles the hour. Blest bird, I'd be
A winged and airy thing, like thee!
From human things I'd sit aloof
Like thee, above the minster-roof,
Next shall come Lamb's favourite, the Epitaph on the Beggar's Dog. Lamb's rendering is very fairly exact.
Pauperis hic Iri requiesco Lyciscus, herilis,
Dum vixi, tutela vigil columenque senectæ,
Dux cæco fidus ; nec, me ducente, solebat,
Prætenso hinc atque hinc baculo, per iniqua locorum
Incertam explorare viam ; sed fila secutus,
Quæ dubios regerent passus, vestigia tuta
Fixit inoffenso gressu ; gelidumque sedile
In nudo nactus saxo, qua prætereuntûm
Unda frequens confluxit, ibi miserisque tenebras
Lamentis, noctemque oculis ploravit obortam.
Ploravit nec frustra; obolum dedit alter et alter,
Queis corda et mentem indiderat natura benignam.
Ad latus interea jacui sopitus herile,
Vel mediis vigil in somnis; ad herilia jussa
Auresque atque animum arrectus, seu frustula amice
Porrexit sociasque dapes, seu longa diei
Tædia perpessus, reditum sub nocte parabat.
Hi mores, hæc vita fuit, dum fata sinebant,
Dum neque languebam morbis, nec inerte senecta,
Quæ tandem obrepsit, veterique satellite cæcum
Orbavit dominum: prisci sed gratia facti
Ne tota intereat, longos deleta per annos,
Exiguum hunc Irus tumulum de cespite fecit,
Et si inopis, non ingratæ munuscula dextræ ;
Carmine signavitque brevi, dominumque canemque
Quod memoret, fidumque canem dominumque benignum.
Poor Irus' faithful wolf-dog here I lie,
That wont to tend my old blind master's steps,
His guide and guard; nor, while my service lasted,
Had he occasion for that staff, with which
He now goes picking out his path in fear
Over the highways and crossings, but would plant,
Safe in the conduct of my friendly string,
A firm foot forward still, till he had reach'd
His poor seat on some stone, nigh where the tide
Of passers-by in thickest confluence flow'd:
To whom with loud and passionate laments
From morn to eve his dark estate he wail'd.
Nor wail'd to all in vain; some here and there,
The well-disposed and good, their pennies gave;.
I meantime at his feet obsequious slept ;
Not all-asleep in sleep, but heart and ear
Prick'd up at his least motion; to receive
At his kind hand my customary crumbs,
And common portion in his feast of scraps;
Or when night warned us homeward, tired and spent
With our long day and tedious beggary.
These were my manners, this my way of life,
Till age and slow disease me overtook,
And sever'd from my sightless master's side.
But, lest the grace of so good deeds should die,