Monday, 3 December 2012

Coleridge's Synesius

Following up yesterday. In a footnote to chapter 12 of the Biographia, Coleridge boasts: 'In this biographical sketch of my literary life I may be excused, if I mention here, that I had translated the eight Hymns of Synesius from the Greek.' Show-off.  There are ten, not eight, hymns.

Anyway, these translations, if they ever existed, have been lost. Alan Stevenson, who translated all the Synesian hymns later in the century, noted in his preface ‘how deeply we must deplore that this translation by “the marvellous-eyed one” should never have been published. I have made diligent inquiries as to its fate; but can learn nothing of it.’ [Stevenson, The Ten Hymns of Synesius in English Verse (1865), xi]. It's a long shot, but is there a chance that this anonymous translation of Hymn IV (in The British Magazine of 1841) could be Coleridge's, or based upon his version? It reads as ropey enough, in terms of its versification; more like juvenilia than a mature poet. On the other hand the headnote implies (without actually saying) that the version was done specifically for the magazine. STC died in 1834. Altogether not very likely.

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