I have a translation by Garnham, Bachelor of Arts, in the LEGENDS OF THE RHINE, but it would not answer the purpose I mentioned above, because the measure is too nobly irregular; it don't fit the tune snugly enough; in places it hangs over at the ends too far, and in other places one runs out of words before he gets to the end of a bar. Still, Garnham's translation has high merits, and I am not dreaming of leaving it out of my book. I believe this poet is wholly unknown in America and England; I take peculiar pleasure in bringing him forward because I consider that I discovered him:
Translated by L. W. Garnham, B.A.
I do not know what it signifies. That I am so sorrowful? A fable of old Times so terrifies, Leaves my heart so thoughtful.
The air is cool and it darkens, And calmly flows the Rhine; The summit of the mountain hearkens In evening sunshine line.
The most beautiful Maiden entrances Above wonderfully there, Her beautiful golden attire glances, She combs her golden hair.
With golden comb so lustrous, And thereby a song sings, It has a tone so wondrous, That powerful melody rings.
The shipper in the little ship It effects with woe sad might; He does not see the rocky slip, He only regards dreaded height.
I believe the turbulent waves Swallow the last shipper and boat; She with her singing craves All to visit her magic moat.
No translation could be closer. He has got in all the facts; and in their regular order, too. There is not a statistic wanting. It is as succinct as an invoice. That is what a translation ought to be; it should exactly reflect the thought of the original. You can't SING "Above wonderfully there," because it simply won't go to the tune, without damaging the singer; but it is a most clingingly exact translation of DORT OBEN WUNDERBAR--fits it like a blister. Mr. Garnham's reproduction has other merits--a hundred of them--but it is not necessary to point them out. They will be detected.
No one with a specialty can hope to have a monopoly of it. Even Garnham has a rival. Mr. X had a small pamphlet with him which he had bought while on a visit to Munich. It was entitled A CATALOGUE OF PICTURES IN THE OLD PINACOTEK, and was written in a peculiar kind of English. Here are a few extracts:
"It is not permitted to make use of the work in question to a publication of the same contents as well as to the pirated edition of it."
"An evening landscape. In the foreground near a pond and a group of white beeches is leading a footpath animated by travelers."
"A learned man in a cynical and torn dress holding an open book in his hand."
"St. Bartholomew and the Executioner with the knife to fulfil the martyr."
"Portrait of a young man. A long while this picture was thought to be Bindi Altoviti's portrait; now somebody will again have it to be the self-portrait of Raphael."
"Susan bathing, surprised by the two old man. In the background the lapidation of the condemned."
("Lapidation" is good; it is much more elegant than "stoning.")
"St. Rochus sitting in a landscape with an angel who looks at his plague-sore, whilst the dog the bread in his mouth attents him."
"Spring. The Goddess Flora, sitting. Behind her a fertile valley perfused by a river."
"A beautiful bouquet animated by May-bugs, etc."
"A warrior in armor with a gypseous pipe in his hand leans against a table and blows the smoke far away of himself."
"A Dutch landscape along a navigable river which perfuses it till to the background."
"Some peasants singing in a cottage. A woman lets drink a child out of a cup."
"St. John's head as a boy--painted in fresco on a brick." (Meaning a tile.)
"A young man of the Riccio family, his hair cut off right at the end, dressed in black with the same cap. Attributed to Raphael, but the signation is false."
"The Virgin holding the Infant. It is very painted in the manner of Sassoferrato."
"A Larder with greens and dead game animated by a cook-maid and two kitchen-boys."
However, the English of this catalogue is at least as happy as that which distinguishes an inscription upon a certain picture in Rome--to wit: