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Now I lead a life of ease,
Far away, my soul! thou art,
This is all
away away You have made me waste the day. How I 've chattered ! prating crow Never yet did chatter so.
ODE XVI.1 Thou, whose soft and
hues Mimic form and soul infuse, 2 Best of painters, come portray The dovely maid that 's far away.3
But, hast thou any sparkles warm, The lightning of her eyes to form? Let them effuse the azure rays That in Minerva’s glances blaze, Mixt with the liquid light that lies
1 This ode and the next may be called companion-pictures; they are highly finished, and give us an excellent idea of the taste of the ancients in beauty. Franciscus Junius quotes them in his third book “De Pictura Veterum."
This ode has been imitated by Ronsard, Giuliano Goselini, etc. Scaliger alludes to it thus in his Anacreontica:
Olim lepore blando,
descripsit Venerem suam.
His fair beloved's every grace. In the dialogue of Caspar Barlæus, entitled “An formosa sit ducenda,” the reader will find many curious ideas and descriptions of womanly beauty.
2 Thou, whose soft and rosy hues
Mimic form and soul infuse. I have followed here the reading of the Vatican MS. podéns. Painting is called “the rosy art," either in reference to coloring, or as an indefinite epithet of excellence, from the association of beauty with that flower. Salvini has adopted this reading in his literal translation:
Della rosea arte signore. 3 The lovely maid that 's far away. If this portrait of the poet's mistress be not merely ideal, the omission of her name is much
to be regretted. Meleager, in an epigram on Anacreon, mentions “the golden Eurypyle" as his mistress : βεβληκώς χρυσέην χείρας επ’ Ευρυπύλην. 4 Paint her jetty ringlets playing,
Silky locks, like tendrils straying. The ancients have been very enthusiastic in their praises of the beauty of hair. Apuleius, in the second book of his Milesiacs, says that Venus herself, if she were bald, though surrounded by the Graces and the Loves, could not be pleasing even to her husband Vulcan.
Stesichorus gave the epithet kaldet lokanos to the Graces, and Simonides bestowed the same upon the Muses. See Hadrian Junius's “ Dissertation upon Hair." To this
passage of our poet, Selden alluded in a note on the " Polyolbion” of Drayton, Song the Second, where observing, that the epithet “black-haired” was given by some of the ancients to the goddess Isis, he says,
“Nor will I swear, but that Anacreon (a man very judicious in the provoking motives of wanton love), intending to bestow on his sweet mistress that one of the titles of woman's special ornament, wellhaired (kaldiadókamos), thought of this when he gave his painter direction to make her blackhaired.”
5 And, if painting hath the skill
To make the spicy balm distil, etc. Thus Philostratus, speaking of a picture: έπαινω και τον ενδροσον των ρόδων, και φημι γέγραφθαι αυτά μετά της οσμής. “ I admire the dewiness of these roses, and could say that their very smell was painted."
ODE XVII.6 And now with all thy pencil's truth, Portray Bathyllus, lovely youth ! Let his hair, in masses bright, Fall like floating rays of light;7 And there the raven's die confuse With the golden sunbeam's hues.
1 Mixt with the liquid light that lies
In Cytherea's languid eyes. Marchetti explains thus the vypov of the original :
Tremuli e lascivetti, Quai gli ha Ciprigna l'alma Dea d'Amore.
Tasso has painted in the same manner the eyes of Armida :
Qual raggio in onda le scintilla un riso
Within her humid, melting eyes
That trembles in the azure stream. The mingled expression of dignity and tenderness, which Anacreon requires the painter to infuse into the eyes of his mistress, is more amply described in the subsequent ode. Both descriptions are so exquisitely touched, that the artist must have been great indeed, if he did not yield in painting to the poet.
2 Mingling tints, as when there glows
In snowy milk the bashful rose.
Utque rose puro lacte natant folia.
Catch as it falls the Scythian snow,
Bring blushing roses steept in milk. Thus too Taygetus :Quæ lac atque rosas vincis candore rubenti. These last words may perhaps defend the flushing white” of the translation.
3 Then her lip, so rich in blisses,
Sweet petitioner for kisses. The "lip, provoking kisses,” in the original, is a strong and beautiful expression. Achilles Tatius speaks of χείλη μαλθακά προς τα φιλήMata, " Lips soft and delicate for kissing.” A grave old commentator, Dionysius Lambinus, in his notes upon Lucretius, tells us with the
apparent authority of experience, that “Suavius viros osculantur puellæ labiosæ, quam quæ sunt brevibus labris.” And Æneas Sylvius, in his tedious uninteresting story of the loves of Euryalus and Lucretia, where he particularizes the beauties of the heroine (in a very false and labored style of latinity), describes her lips thus: “Os parvum decensque, labia corallini coloris ad morsum aptissima.” – Epist. 114. lib. i.
4 Next, beneath the velvet chin,
Whose dimple hides a Love within,'etc. Madame Dacier has quoted here two pretty lines of Varro:
Sigilla in mento impressa Amoris digitulo vestigio demonstrant mollitudinem.
In her chin is a delicate dimple,
By Cupid's own finger imprest;
Has chosen her innocent nest.
Shadow her form, but not conceal; etc. This delicate art of description, which leaves imagination to complete the picture, has been seldom adopted in the imitations of this beautiful poem. Ronsard is exceptionally minute ; and Politianus, in his charming portrait of a girl, full of rich and exquisite diction, has lifted the veil rather too much. The “questo che tu m' intendi” should be always left to fancy.
6 The reader, who wishes to acquire an accurate idea of the judgment of the ancients in beauty, will be indulged by consulting Junius's “De Pictura Veterum,” lib. 3. cap. 9., where he will find a very curious selection of descriptions and epithets of personal perfections. Junius compares this ode with a description of Theodoric, king of the Goths, in the second epistle, first book, of Sidonius Apollinaris.
7 Let his hair, in masses bright,
Fall like floating rays of light; etc. He here describes the sunny hair, the flava coma, which the ancients so much admired. The Romans gave this color artificially to their hair. See STANISL. KOBIENZYCK, “De Luxu Romanorum.'
That Eloquence would claim her own;4
Let no wreath, with artful twine,1
Next thou his ivory neck must trace, Moulded with soft but manly grace; Fair as the neck of Paphia's boy, Where Paphia's arms have hung in joy. Give him the winged Hermes' hand,6 With which he waves his snaky wand; Let Bacchus the broad chest supply, And Leda's son the sinewy thigh; While, through his whole transparent
frame, Thou show'st the stirrings of that flame,
1 Let no wreath, with artful twine, etc. If the original here, which is particularly beautiful, can admit of any additional value, that value is conferred by Gray's admiration of it. See his letters to West.
Some annotators have quoted on this passage the description of Photis's hair in Apuleius; but nothing can be more distant from the simplicity of our poet's manner, than that affectation of richness which distinguishes the style of Apuleius. 2 But flushed with manhood's early glow,
And guileless as the dews of dawn, etc. Torrentius, upon the words “insignem tenui fronte,” in Horace, Od. 33., lib. 1., is of opinion, incorrectly, I think, that “tenui” here bears the Same meaning as the word απαλόν. . 3 Mix in his eyes the power alike,
With love to win, with awe to strike ; etc. Tasso gives a similar character to the eyes of Clorinda : —
Lampeggiar gli occhi, e folgorar gli sguardi
The poetess Veronica Cambara is more diffuse upon this variety of expression:
Occhi lucenti e belli,
Oh! tell me, brightly-beaming eye, Whence in your little orbit lie So many different traits of fire, Expressing each a new desire. Now with pride or scorn you darkle, Now with love, with gladness, sparkle, While we who view the varying mirror, Feel by turns both hope and terror. Chevreau, citing the lines of our poet, in his critique on the poems of Malherbe, produces a Latin version of them from a manuscript which he had seen, entitled “ Joan. Falconis Anacreontici Lusus."
4 That Eloquence would claim her own.
In the original, as in the preceding ode, Peitho, the goddess of persuasion, or eloquence. It was worthy of the delicate imagination of the Greeks to deify Persuasion, and give her the lips for her throne. We are here reminded of a very interesting fragment of Anacreon, preserved by the scholiast upon Pindar, and supposed to belong to a poem reflecting with some severity on Simonides, who was the first, we are told, that ever made a hireling of his muse :
Ουδ' αργυρέη ποτ' έλαμψε Πείθω.
In silver splendors, not her own.
A life-look, as if words were there.
6 Give him the winged Hermes' land, etc.
In Shakespeare's “Cymbeline "there is a similar method of description :
this is his hand,
The brawns of Hercules. We find it likewise in “Hamlet.” Longepierre thinks that the hands of Mercury are selected by Anacreon on account of the graceful gestures which were supposed to characterize the god of eloquence; but Mercury was also the patron of thieves, and may perhaps be praised as a lightfingered deity.
Which kindles, when the first love-sigh Steals from the heart, unconscious why.
Drop them o'er my brow in showers.
But sure thy pencil, though so bright, Is envious of the eye's delight, Or its enamoured touch would show The shoulder, fair as sunless snow, Which now in veiling shadow lies, Removed from all but Fancy's eyes. Now, for his feet — but hold — for
bear I see the sun-god's portrait there;1 Why paint Bathyllus? when, in truth, There, in that god, thou'st sketched the
youth. Enough let this bright form be mine, And send the boy to Samos' shrine; Phoebus shall then Bathyllus be, Bathyllus then, the deity!
1 but hold -- forbear -
I see the sun-god's portrait there. The abrupt turn here is spirited, but requires some explanation. While the artist is pursuing the portrait of Bathyllus, Anacreon, we must suppose, turns round and sees a picture of Apollo, which was intended for ar. altar at Samos. He then instantly tells the painter to cease his work; that this picture will serve for Bathyllus ; and that, when he goes to Samos, he may make an Apollo of the portrait of the boy which he had begun.
Bathyllus" (says Madame Dacier) “could not be more elegantly praised, and this one passage does him more honor than the statue, however beautiful it might be, which Polycrates raised to him."
2 Bring me wine in brimming urns, etc. Original πιείν άμυστί. The amystis was a method of drinking used among the Thracians. Thus Horace, Threiciâ vincat amystide Mad. Dacier, Longepierre, etc.
Parrhasius, in his twenty-sixth epistle (“ Thesaur. Critic.” vol. i.), explains the amystis as a draught to be exhausted without drawing breath, uno haustu. A note in the margin of this epistle of Parrhasius says, Politianus vestem esse putabat, but adds no reference.
3 Give me all those humid flowers, etc. According to the original reading of this line, the poet says,
Give me the flower of wine".
Date flosculos Lyæi, as it is in the version of Elias Andreas; and
Deh porgetimi del fiore
Di quel almo e buon liquore, as Regnier has it, who supports the reading. The word ävoos would undoubtedly bear this application, which is somewhat similar to its import in the epigram of Simonides upon Sophocles :
έσβέσθης γέραιε Σοφόκλεες, άνθος αοιδών: and flos in the Latin is frequently applied in the same manner — thus Cethegus is called by Ennius, Flos inlibatus populi, suadæque medulla, “The immaculate flower of the people, and the very marrow of persuasion." See these verses cited by Aulus Gellius, lib. xii., which Cicero praised, and Seneca thought ridiculous.
But in the passage before us, if we admit exeivwv, according to Faber's conjecture, the sense is sufficiently clear, without having recourse to such refinements.
4 Every dewy rose I wear
Sheds its tears, and withers there. There are some beautiful lines, by Angerianus, upon a garland, which I cannot resist quoting here: Ante fores madida sic sic pendete corolla,
mane orto imponet Calia vos capiti; at quum per niveam cervicem influxerit humor.
dicite, non roris sed pluvia hæc lacrimæ. By Celia's arbor all the night
Hang, humid wreath, the lover's vow; And haply, at the morning light,
My love shall twine thee round her brow. Then, if upon her bosom bright
Some drops of dew shall fall from thee, Tell her, they are not drops of night,
But tears of sorrow shed by me! In the poem of Mr. Sheridan's, “Uncouth is this moss-covered grotto of stone," there is an idea very singularly coincident with this of Angerianus: And thou, stony grot, in thy arch may'st preserve
Some lingering drops of the night-fallen dew; Let them fall on her bosom of snow, and they 'll As tears of my sorrow entrusted to you.
5 But to you, my burning heart, etc. The transition here is peculiarly delicate and impassioned; but the commentators have perplexed the sentiment by a variety of readings and conjectures.
ODE XX.4 One day the Muses twined the hands Of infant Love with flowery bands; And to celestial Beauty gave The captive infant for her slave. His mother comes, with many a toy,
ODE XIX.1 HERE recline you, gentle maid, 2 Sweet is this embowering shade; Sweet the young, the modest trees, Ruffled by the kissing breeze; Sweet the little founts that weep, Lulling soft the mind to sleep; Hark! they whisper as they roll, Calm persuasion to the soul; Tell me, tell me, is not this All a stilly scene of bliss ? Who, my girl, would pass it by? Surely neither you nor 1.3
4 The poet appears, in this graceful allegory, to describe the softening influence which poetry holds over the mind, in making it peculiarly susceptible to the impressions of beauty..
In the following epigram, however, by the philosopher Plato (Diog. Laert. lib. 3.), the Muses are represented as disavowing the influence of Love. & Κύπρις Μούσαισι, κοράσια τάν Αφροδίταν
τίματ’, ή τον Έρωτα ύμμιν εφοπλίσομαι. αι Μουσαι ποτί Κύπριν, 'Αρει τα στόμυλα ταύτα:
ημίν ου πέταται τούτο το παιδάριον. “Yield to my gentle power, Parnassian maids ;” Thus to the Muses spoke the Queen of
Charms Or Love shall flutter through your classic
shades, And make your grove the camp of Paphian
1 The description of this bower is so natural ind animated, that we almost feel a degree of coolness and freshness while we peruse it. Longepierre has quoted from the first book of the Anthologia the following epigram, as somewhat resembling this ode: έρχεο και κατ' εμάν ζευ πίτυς και το μελιχρόν
προς μαλακούς ήχει κεκλιμένα ζεφύρους. ηνίδε και κρούνισμα μελισταγές, ένθα μελίσδων ήδύν έρημαίοις ύπνον άγω καλάμοις. . Come, sit by the shadowy pine
That covers my sylvan retreat ;
The breathing of zephyr to meet.
Around me a glittering spray;
2 Here recline you, gentle maid, etc. The Vatican MS. reads Balúdov, which renders the whole poem metaphorical. Some commentator suggests the reading of Bábuidov, which makes a pun upon the name; a grace that Plato himself has condescended to in writing of his boy’AgTp. See the epigram of this philosopher, which I quote on the twenty-second ode.
There is another epigram by this philosopher, preserved in Laertius, which turns upon the same word. Αστήρ πριν μεν έλαμπες ένι ζώοισιν εώος, νύν δε βανων λάμπεις έσπερος εν φθιμένοις. . In life thou wert my morning star,
But now that death has stolen thy light,
Like the pale beam that weeps at night. In the Veneres Blyenburgicæ, under the head of “ Allusiones,” we find a number of such frigid conceits upon names, selected from the poets of the middle ages.
3 Who, my girl, would pass it by ?
Surely neither you nor I. The finish given to the picture by this simple exclamation τίς αν ούν όρων παρέλθοι, is inimitable. Yet a French translator says on the passage, “This conclusion appeared to me too
No," said the virgins of the tuneful bower, “We scorn thine own and all thy urchin's art; Though Mars has trembled at the infant's power,
His shaft is pointless o'er a Muse's heart!"
There is a sonnet by Benedetto Guidi, the thought of which was suggested by this ode: – Scherzava dentro all' auree chiome A more
Dell' alma donna della vita mia : E tanta era il piacer ch' ei ne sentia,
Che non sapea, nè volea uscirne fore.
Si, che per forza ancor convien che stia :
Del crespo crin, per farsi eterno onore.
A chi scioglie il figliuol la bella dea
Da tanti nodi, in ch' ella stretti il vede. Ma ei vinto a due occhi l'arme cede :
Et t' affatichi indarno, Citerea ;
Che s'altri'l scioglie, egli a legar si riede
Of my beloved's hair,
That rapt he lingered there.
Or how his freedom find,
A chain, by Beauty twined.
Comes Venus from above:
Love's now the slave of Love.