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The Spike Victoria University College Review 1944



But one should not too much exhibit this understanding. Baudelaire and Horace who have an almost unmistakable tone running through their work have often been translated with the Horatian phrase and the Baudelarian adjective when no literary rendering could be made adequate. An exception is Sir Edward Walsh's fine translation of the Odes (1941).

Arthur Symons and George Dillon have caught the tone of Baudelaire in their translations, but they have not been able to follow the infinitely varied and rapidly changing moods of Baudelaire. They do not see the full richness of experience he refers to. They think he is always saying the same. They overuse words like' drunken.'' sorceries.'' phantom,' languorous.' Arthur Symons wrote:

When with eyes closed as in an opium dream
I breathe the odour of thy passionate breast.

Mr. Symons here remembers that Baudelaire smoked opium and liked passionate breasts. These details have been added to make Baudelaire's poem more Baudelarian. Arthur Symons however was, let nobody forget it, a true adventurer, a man who was haunted by the diabolic as few Englishmen have been, a man who could speak the language of the Francois Villon:

I know that rich and poor and all,
Foolish and wise and priest and lay,
Mean folk and noble, great and small.
High and low, foul and fair, and they
That wore rich clothing on the way,
Being of whatever stock or stem
And are coiffed newly every day
Death shall take every one of them.

What a difference for instance with George Dillon, who is sometimes man-to-man and sometimes languorous, gives sometimes a sob and sometimes a chortle. You see him rearranging himself in his chair to say some of the cruel things of life. You feel that there is not a single artifice that this man cannot use, but in his translations of Baudelaire at least all inner coherence is lacking.

George Dillon has published his translations together with Edna St. Vincent Millay (1936). But the contributions of the poetess are completely different: dignified, passionate and quietly intelligent. One stands here before real beauty and the interesting occurrence of an American woman living through part of Baudelaire.