Page:Bürger's Lenore, Rossetti 1900.djvu/12

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10
Prefatory Note

the lovers are riding to Hungary, the second of these lines is just as reasonable as Shakespear's "Bohemia near the Sea"; for where does the sea come in any ride to Hungary? Scott's William and Helen, as he entitled it, can hardly be called a translation: it is a paraphrase, put into the ordinary English ballad-metre, and altering the period of the story in the same way that Taylor had done. Several passages here and there are however translated closely enough. This rendering by Scott—not any other rendering of the ballad—must have been highly familiar to Dante Rossetti several years before he undertook his own version. In 1796 a translation, Leonora, was published by W. R. Spencer, with engravings by Lady Diana Beauclerc. It is, I think, barely less faithful than Rossetti's version; the difference being that, while the latter exceeds in picturesque colouring, Spencer loads up the then accepted pomposities of "poetic diction." The metre is more distant than Rossetti's from the original; the rhyming being always alternate, and the lines always of four feet. On the whole it is a creditable performance. There are also translations by Pye,