Page images
PDF
EPUB

NOTES.

I.

IN this poem Schlegel describes and illustrates by his own example the varied character and graphic power of the dactylic hexameter, as the peculiar measure of epic (v. 6, 15), didactic (v. 16), and idyllic (v. 17) poetry.

I. The first part of the sentence which contains the simile, embraces vv. 1-4; the apodosis (so auch) is contained in v. 5.-dem-demjenigen; it is the demonstrative pronoun, and therefore long.—turchschiffen is transitive, but the simple verb schiffen is intransitive. In this manner many intransitive verbs may become transitive when compounded with prepositions. Comp. the constructions of navigare and circumnavigare in Latin, and of πλeîv and Teρɩλeîv in Greek.-The common form is tie Meereshöhe.

2. We say both nirgend and nirgends, but the latter is, perhaps, more common in ordinary German.—umschränkt=ringsum eingeschränkt.

3. Daß so daß.

4.

Die Luft athmet hell is a highly poetical expression. The verb athmen ('to breathe') is properly employed of a living being; but, as J. Grimm says (Wört. I. 593) nicht bloß Menschen oder Thiere ath men, auch der übrigen Natur wird ein Athmen, gleichsam Duften, Wehen, Leuchten beigelegt, and he quotes from Goethe süß wie die athmende Luft (Werthers Leiden, p. 116 Hempel) where Goethe translates from Macpherson's Ossianic poem 'The Songs of Selma.' The corresponding English words are 'sweet as the breathing gale' (Ossian, Lond. 1796, vol. I. p. 192). Grimm himself compares the Latin spirans aer.

5. trägt, 'carries along.'

6. Olymp (originally the range of mountains separating Macedonia and Thessaly, and conceived in Greek mythology to be the residence of the gods) is employed in a wider sense to denote something high and majestic.

The hexameter receives the high majesty of epic poetry into the bosom of its ever-fruitful waters.

7. so ebenso (comp. wie, 1. 8). In the same manner hexametric verse becomes, so to say, a primeval parent of all the varied race of rhythm.' The hexameter was the earliest measure employed by the Greeks, and from this fountain-head all other metres may be said to have taken their rise.

8. Okeanos was conceived by the ancient Greeks as a river flowing round the whole earth, which they believed to be a flat circle. Out of this river, all other water on the earth was supposed to be supplied as well as again discharged into it.—Herrscher is said in reference to the conception of Oceanus as a god.

9. entrieseln of the smaller, entbrausen of the larger rivers.

IO. vorrücken=langsam vorwärts kommen, von der Stelle kommen.-Rowing is said to be mühvoller ('more toilsome, laborious') than sailing, the notion implied in Seefahrt.

Il. In prose we should have to say die Abgründe der Wogen.

12. Riel instead of Schiff is poetical, just as keel may be used in English; comp. Latin carina.-Vallung is used of the agitation of the Thus we say das Wasser wallt auf.

waves.

13. Observe the slow and steady spondees in the first part of the line, descriptive of slow motion and calmness; and again, the dactyls of the second part expressive of agility and swiftness.

14. immer sich selbst gleich, ‘always one and the same,' though various in its employment, yet never differing as to its actual and primitive character.

15. Kampf-Wettkampf, certamen. Or we might say that battles and fights (Rämpfe) are one of the principal themes of epic (=heroic) poetry.— sich gürten Lat. accingi, gird oneself (for a contest).

16. Lehrspruch=Lehrhafter_Spruch.—den Hörenden (audientibus) is more poetical than den Hörern.

17. There is in the movement of this line something of the 'whispering' mentioned in it. The allusion is to the idyllic poetry of Theocritus ; comp. the opening line of his first Idyl: ἀδύ τι τὸ ψιθύρισμα καὶ ὁ πίτυς, αἰπόλε, τήνα, "Α ποτὶ ταῖς παγαῖσι μελίσδεται (dulce tibi pinus submurmurat, en tibi, pastor, Proxima fonticulis,' Terentianus Maurus p. 2430 P.).-Idyllien is formed in close imitation of the Greek elduλia—the common German form is das Idyll, plur. die Idyllen.

18. Hexametric verse is called the 'nurse' of Homer, inasmuch as, while allowing full play to the varying moods of Homeric poetry, it at the same time regulated and strengthened its growth.-The oracles of Apollo at Delphi were generally delivered in hexameters.

19. This line is a direct translation of the concluding line of the Homeric hymn εἰς ̓Αφροδίτην: αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ καὶ σεῖο καὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ ̓ ἀοιδῆς.

II.

1. Schwindelnd=so daß_es_dir_schwindelt. This participial construction is not accurate in a grammatical point of view. Comp. Coleridge's translation of this distich:

Strongly it bears us along in swelling and limitless billows,

Nothing before and nothing behind but the sky and the ocean.

111.

Coleridge has translated this distich also:

In the hexameter rises the fountain's silvery column,

In the pentameter aye falling in melody back.

IV.

Der siebzigste Geburtstag is one of the most charming idyls in the German language. The subject is of exceeding simplicity. A country schoolmaster celebrates his seventieth birthday and, while he is asleep after dinner, his newly married son, who has already advanced to the dignity of pastor, arrives, with his young wife, nothing daunted by the snowstorm and the bad roads. The scene is at Stolp, now a small town, then only a village in the Prussian province of Pomerania. Comp. also v. 55. It may be observed that there is an earlier and somewhat shorter version of this poem. We have adopted the latest version given by the poet himself.

1. Postille, a collection of sermons on the principal Sundays of the year. The name is said to be derived from the Latin post illa (sc. verba), commonly subjoined to the texts as a phrase introductory to the sermons themselves.-German rooms are, as is well known, warmed by closed stoves, and not by open fire-places.

3. Narbe (properly 'a scar') is here used of the small indentations from which hair has been plucked away: bas Leder hat seine Narben (Sanders); braunnarbig is expläined by Grimm=braungenarbt, von Leder, but without a reference.—Der Jucht, pl. Juchte, ‘Russian leather,' from the Russian juft; it is, however, much more common to say der Juchten.

4. gesegnet, 'prosperous.'-Freidorf, the name once used to denote a village with a jurisdiction of its own, and not subject to a lord of the

manor.

5. Küster is derived from L. custos, the parish clerk being conceived as the 'guardian' of the sacred vessels and vestments of a church.

6. bis auf, 'with the exception of.’—Greise der Vorzeit is a somewhat quaint expression to denote sehr alte Greise. Comp. Vorwelt, below, v. 184.

7. Tamm had taught the rising generations of the village both manners (Sitte) and learning (Erkenntniß).

8. As organist he had played at the weddings, as schoolmaster he and his boys had sung the dirge at the funerals.—Observe the peculiar expression einen hinweg singen, which would literally mean, 'to get some one out of the way by singing,' but is here employed of singing at the final stage of this world's journey.

IO. The 'comforting texts' (Sprüche) and 'exhortations' (to a godly life) are contained in the Postille.

II. Sein Blick starrte is less common than wurde starr.-Observe the spondaic termination of the line, which is justified in the case of a tetrasyllabic word.

12. Kalmank or Kalamank is a kind of woollen material, said to have been first manufactured in Brabant, though its name points to an eastern origin, as it is derived from the medieval Greek кaμŋλaúklov. English form of the word is calamanco, for which see Webster.

The

13. In prose we should say während ihm die Brille entglitten und sein filberfarbenes Haupthaar unbedeckt war.

17. Das erleb(e)te Heil is the long life graciously granted him by God's mercy.

18. In childish imitation of a clergyman, the boy had stood and held forth on a footstool.

19. Observe, here and in the preceding line, the omission of the plupf. of the auxiliary: hatte. This is not common in prose.-Both mit Noth and the adj. theuer in the next line express the great effort which the poor schoolmaster had to make in order to maintain his boy at the grammar school (lateinische Schule, now commonly called Gymnasium or Gelehrtenschule) and university (Akademie).

21.

einhellig is a more select expression than its synonym einstimmig. 22. wirthlich, 'economical'; his wife was a good housewife, one of the principal virtues of German ladies.—Vorfahr is in common use, but Nachfahr, though used even by Goethe and Immermann, is antiquated now and generally superseded by Nachfolger. It should, moreover, be observed that Vorfahr commonly forms the genitive des Vorfahren, but even Goethe has once die Arbeiten eines höchst sinnigen Vorfahre (Sanders, I. 388, III.).

23. Fernher aus der Ferne her, wó¿¿w0ev.—seines, i.e. des Vaters.

24. The ordinary form is ter Taback, but Toback occurs also in Goethe,

and is still employed in the phrase das ist starker Tobad, by which we denote something strange and hard to believe.-Fracht Frachtwagen, 'carrier.'

25. geloben is often used in the sense of promising in solemn terms.Observe the omission of daß after a verb of promising and declaring.

26. This is a shortened conditional clause, wenn nicht (or falls nicht) Hohlwege...hemmten.—verschneien, ‘to snow up'; in this and similar instances the prefix ver expresses corrupting and spoiling.-For Gründe see note on v. 78 below.

28. empfahn is archaic and poetical instead of empfangen.

30. sich etwas spenden (or spendiren) is commonly used in the sense of indulging in a luxury.

31. Sie hatten geflingt is unusual instead of sie hatten ihre Gläser erklingen lassen or angestoßen. According to Grimm's Dictionary, V. 1183, the weak verb klingen would appear to be peculiar to Voss. For the custom of gently striking the glasses together when drinking a health, we may refer to Goethe's Hermann and Dor. I. 171, Heiter klangen sogleich die Gläser des Wirthes und Pfarrers; see our note in the edition in the Pitt Press Series. See also our Book of Ballads on German History, XXII. 53.-Observe the peculiarly disjointed position of the two genitives dependent on Gesundheit. 32. sähen sehen möchten.

34. fort immer weiter.

36. In prose: wenn man nur immer mit Gottvertraun und Beharrlichkeit Gutes will, das führet....

37. traut is an adj. expressing unlimited trustworthiness (comp. trauen and treu); hence it is often used as a term of endearment.

38. Imperative expressions like this, in which the verb 'to be' (sei) is omitted, are not at all uncommon in colloquial German.

39. The common form is je...besto. But in phrases of a proverbial character we often find je...je. Observe also the omission of the verb substantive.

40. Voss has varied the common proverb aller Anfang ist schwer.—Observe the difference between der Beginn, 'the beginning, commencement,' and das Beginnen, 'the undertaking, enterprise.'

42. Comp. St Matt. vi. 26, Sehet die Vögel unter dem Himmel an: sie säen nicht, sie ernten nicht, sie sammeln nicht in die Scheunen, und euer himmlischer Vater nähret sie doch. 28. Und warum sorget ihr für die Kleidung? Schauet die Lilien auf dem Felde, wie sie wachsen: sie arbeiten nicht, auch spinnen sie nicht. 29. Ich sage euch, daß auch Salomo in aller seiner Herrlichkeit nicht bekleidet gewesen ist als derselben eine.

43. alten is less common than altern=alt werden.

« PreviousContinue »