Page:Bürger's Lenore, Rossetti 1900.djvu/15

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Prefatory Note

but with a full consciousness that the critical opinion expressed by a brother carries very little weight. Some of the other renderings—as Taylor's, Scott's, and Stanley's—are put out of count by arbitrary alterations: the remaining ones are less animated, less poetical, and mostly less faithful, than Rossetti's. It may be as well to state here that, as the Lenore was the first translation of any importance that he produced, so also was it the first favourable example of his powers as a verse-writer. His original ballad-poem of Sir Hugh the Heron, written mostly at the age of twelve, was not indeed worse than one would expect from so boyish a hand, but no human being who knows the meaning of the word "good" can apply that epithet to Sir Hugh the Heron; and another shorter ballad, William and Marie, which he composed at the age of about fourteen, is even inferior to its precursor. This William and Marie, as it happens, was sold at the same auction-sale in which Lenore was included: it fetched a price decidedly more than proportionate to its poetic deservings.

In 1844, when Rossetti translated Lenore, this poetic invention was known to English readers as well as almost