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ORIGINAL PREFACE xxi
RODERICK, THE LAST OF THE GOTHS:
As the ample Moon, In the deep stillness of a summer even Rising behind a thick and lofty Grove, Burns like an unconsuming fire of light In the green trees; and kindling on all sides Their leafy umbrage, turns the dusky veil Into a substance glorious as her own, Yea, with her own incorporated, by power Capacious and serene: Like power abides In Man's celestial Spirit; Virtue thus Sets forth and magnifies herself: thus feeds A calm, a beautiful and silent fire, From the incumbrances of mortal life, From error, disappointment, ... nay from guilt; And sometimes, so relenting Justice wills, From palpable oppressions of Despair.
This poem was commenced at Keswick, Dec. 2. 1809, and finished there July 14. 1814.
A French translation, by M. B. de S., in three volumes 12mo., was published in 1820, and another by M. le Chevalier ? in one volume 8vo., 1821. Both are in prose.
In one of these versions a notable mistake occurs, occasioned by the French pronunciation of an English word. The whole passage indeed, in both versions, may be regarded as curiously exemplifying the difference between French and English poetry.
"The lamps and tapers now grew pale, And through the eastern windows slanting fell The roseate ray of morn. Within those walls Returning day restored no cheerful sounds Or joyous motions of awakening life; But in the stream of light the speckled motes As if in mimicry of insect play, Floated with mazy movement. Sloping down Over the altar pass'd the pillar'd beam, And rested on the sinful woman's grave As if it enter'd there, a light from Heaven. So be it! cried Pelayo, even so! As in a momentary interval, When thought expelling thought, had left his mind Open and passive to the influxes Of outward sense, his vacant eye was there, ... So be it, Heavenly Father, even so I Thus may thy vivifying goodness shed Forgiveness there; for let not thou the groans Of dying penitence, nor my bitter prayers Before thy mercy-seat, be heard in vain! And thou, poor soul, who from the dolorous house Of weeping and of pain, dost look to me To shorten and assuage thy penal term, Pardon me that these hours in other thoughts And other duties than this garb, this night Enjoin, should thus have past! Our mother-land Exacted of my heart the sacrifice; And many a vigil must thy son perform Henceforth in woods and mountain fastnesses, And tented fields, outwatching for her sake The starry host, and ready for the work Of day, before the sun begins his course."
A very good translation in Dutch verse, was published in two volumes, 8vo. 1823-4, with this title:--"Rodrigo de Goth, Koning van Spanje. Naar het Engelsch van Southey gevolgd, door Vrouwe Katharina Wilhelmina Bilderdijk. Te 's Gravenhage." It was sent to me with the following epistle from her husband, Mr. Willem Bilderdijk.
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