Page:Bürger's Lenore, Rossetti 1900.djvu/10

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Prefatory Note

is moderately faithful. He allows himself (contrary to his original) the latitude of leaving lines 1 and 3 in each stanza unrhymed and of lengthening lines 7 and 8 from three feet to four. I myself regard this latter change as a decided improvement to the ear: but my opinion is not much to the point. The most salient modification, however, is in general tone. The Lenore of Bürger is, notwithstanding its startling and grisly theme, noticeably simple in treatment: Rossetti has largely reinforced it on the picturesque or romantic side. It may perhaps have been by mere inadvertence that he turns the religious atmosphere of the poem, which is manifestly Protestant, into Roman Catholic: thus, for instance, a "Vaterunser" becomes an "Ave Marie." But, if this was inadvertence, it testifies all the more strongly to the romantic impulse in his mind. In stanza 15 the translator is wrong in indicating that midnight is already past, for the clock afterwards strikes eleven; and in stanza 17 the ghostly bridegroom, in saying "zur Wette," only means "I wager you," and not "'Tis for a wager I bear thee away."

Without dwelling further upon details, I will quote here