THE STORY OF AENEAS: VIRGIL’S AENEID. Translated into English Verse by Henry S. Salt. Cambridge: The University Press. Pp. Xv. 304. 8s. 6d. net.
It is only a short time since Mr. Salt’s translation of the Fourth Book of the Aeneid was reviewed in these columns; it revealed a new method of approach to the problem of retaining the musical value of rhyme in English verse without the cramping effect of the stereotyped heroic couplet. The latter metre embodies some noble English poetry, and for translation is ideal for such an author as Lucean or Juvenal, where an epigrammatic point is to be made within a narrow compass. But for the ordinary epic it has two definite weaknesses: its constant periodic pauses destroy continuity, and the exigencies of an immediate rhyme frequently force on the translator an unsatisfactory rendering of the original. To Virgil it is peculiarly unsuited, with his variation of rhythm and a style and method that is the antithesis of epigram. Mr. Salt’s method is to use rhyme with the freedom of such lyrics as “Lycidas,” and the impression formed on reading his earlier volume is strengthened by the larger work—that this is the best solution yet offered of an extraordinarily difficult problem. If blank verse is to be ruled out variation of the incidence of rhyme is the nearest attainable equivalent to the Virgilian variation of pause. Mr. Salt is to be warmly congratulated on the completion of a design excellent in conception and admirably executed.
The Guardian, November 27, 1928, p. 7