Saturday, October 8, 2016

William Cullen Bryant to Richard H. Dana, Esq., May 14, 1863

roslyn, May 14, 1863

How this war drags on! Yet I cannot help believing that it will end suddenly, almost unexpectedly, as the Indian War did in Florida, twenty years ago, when General Worth penetrated to the Everglades, to the wigwams where the savages had their families, and they, seeing that further resistance was hopeless, yielded themselves as submissive as lambs. We have all along, in my opinion, conducted the war on a false principle, weakening our forces by the loosest dispersion, and strengthening the rebels by keeping them in a compact body, when there was no necessity for all this. I think I see symptoms of a disposition to depart from this policy; and, when we do, I shall conclude the war is near an end.

I have been looking over Cowper's translation of Homer lately, and comparing it with the original. It has astonished me that one who wrote such strong English as Cowper in his original compositions, should have put Homer, who wrote also with simplicity and spirit, into such phraseology as he has done. For example, when Ulysses, in the fifth book of the Odyssey, asks, “What will become of me?” Cowper makes him say:

“—what destiny at last
Attends me?”

and so on. The greater part is in such stilted phrase, and all the freedom and fire of the old poet is lost.

SOURCE: Parke Godwin, A Biography of William Cullen Bryant, Volume 1, p. 192

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