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Appendix.11981198    [Elucidation.]

[Translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.]


1.  A Strain of Jonah the Prophet.

After the living, aye—enduring death

Of Sodom and Gomorrah; after fires

Penal, attested by time-frosted plains

Of ashes; after fruitless apple-growths,

5  Born but to feed the eye; after the death

Of sea and brine, both in like fate involved;

While whatsoe’er is human still retains

In change corporeal its penal badge:11991199    These two lines, if this be their true sense, seem to refer to Lot’s wife.  But the grammar and meaning of this introduction are alike obscure.

A city—Nineveh—by stepping o’er

10  The path of justice and of equity,

On her own head had well-nigh shaken down

More fires of rain supernal.  For what dread12001200    “Metus;” used, as in other places, of godly fear.

Dwells in a mind subverted?  Commonly

Tokens of penal visitations prove

15  All vain where error holds possession.  Still,

Kindly and patient of our waywardness,

And slow to punish, the Almighty Lord

Will launch no shaft of wrath, unless He first

Admonish and knock oft at hardened hearts,

20  Rousing with mind august presaging seers.

For to the merits of the Ninevites

The Lord had bidden Jonah to foretell

Destruction; but he, conscious that He spare;

The subject, and remits to suppliants

25  The dues of penalty, and is to good

Ever inclinable, was loth to face

That errand; lest he sing his seerly strain

In vain, and peaceful issue of his threats

Ensue.  His counsel presently is flight:

30  (If, howsoe’er, there is at all the power

God to avoid, and shun the Lord’s right hand

’Neath whom the whole orb trembles and is held

In check:  but is there reason in the act

Which in12011201    Lit. “from,” i.e., which, urged by a heart which is that of a saint, even though on this occasion it failed, the prophet dared. his saintly heart the prophet dares?)

35  On the beach-lip, over against the shores

Of the Cilicians, is a city poised,12021202    Libratur.

Far-famed for trusty port—Joppa her name.

Thence therefore Jonah speeding in a barque

Seeks Tarsus,12031203    “Tarshish,” Eng. ver.; perhaps Tartessus in Spain.  For this question, and the “trustiness” of Joppa (now Jaffa) as a port, see Pusey on Jonah i. 3. through the signal providence

40  Of the same God;12041204    Ejusdem per signa Dei. nor marvel is’t, I ween,

If, fleeing from the Lord upon the lands,

He found Him in the waves.  For suddenly

A little cloud had stained the lower air

With fleecy wrack sulphureous, itself12051205    i.e., the cloud.

45  By the wind’s seed excited: by degrees,

Bearing a brood globose, it with the sun

Cohered, and with a train caliginous

Shut in the cheated day.  The main becomes

The mirror of the sky; the waves are dyed so

50  With black encirclement; the upper air

Down rushes into darkness, and the sea

Uprises; nought of middle space is left;

While the clouds touch the waves, and the waves all

Are mingled by the bluster of the winds

55  In whirling eddy.  ’Gainst the renegade,

’Gainst Jonah, diverse frenzy joined to rave,

While one sole barque did all the struggle breed

’Twixt sky and surge.  From this side and from that

Pounded she reels; ’neath each wave-breaking blow

60  The forest of her tackling trembles all;

128As, underneath, her spinal length of keel,

Staggered by shock on shock, all palpitates;

And, from on high, her labouring mass of yard

Creaks shuddering; and the tree-like mast itself

65  Bends to the gale, misdoubting to be riven.

Meantime the rising12061206    Genitus (Oehler); geminus (Migne) ="twin clamour,” which is not inapt. clamour of the crew

Tries every chance for barque’s and dear life’s sake:

To pass from hand to hand12071207    Mandare (Oehler).  If this be the true reading, the rendering in the text seems to represent the meaning; for “mandare” with an accusative, in the sense of “to bid the tardy coils tighten the girth’s noose,” seems almost too gross a solecism for even so lax a Latinist as our present writer.  Migne, however, reads mundare—to “clear” the tardy coils, i.e., probably from the wash and weed with which the gale was cloying them. the tardy coils

To tighten the girth’s noose:  straitly to bind

70  The tiller’s struggles; or, with breast opposed,

T’ impel reluctant curves.  Part, turn by turn,

With foremost haste outbale the reeking well

Of inward sea.  The wares and cargo all

They then cast headlong, and with losses seek

75  Their perils to subdue.  At every crash

Of the wild deep rise piteous cries; and out

They stretch their hands to majesties of gods,

Which gods are none; whom might of sea and sky

Fears not, nor yet the less from off their poops

80  With angry eddy sweeping sinks them down.

Unconscious of all this, the guilty one

’Neath the poop’s hollow arch was making sleep

Re-echo stertorous with nostril wide

Inflated:  whom, so soon as he who guides

85  The functions of the wave-dividing prow

Saw him sleep-bound in placid peace, and proud

In his repose, he, standing o’er him, shook,

And said, “Why sing’st, with vocal nostril, dreams,

In such a crisis?  In so wild a whirl,

90  Why keep’st thou only harbour?  Lo! the wave

Whelms us, and our one hope is in the gods.

Thou also, whosoever is thy god,

Make vows, and, pouring prayers on bended knee,

Win o’er thy country’s Sovran!”

Then they vote

95  To learn by lot who is the culprit, who

The cause of storm; nor does the lot belie

Jonah:  whom then they ask, and ask again,

“Who? whence? who in the world? from what abode,

What people, hail’st thou?”  He avows himself

100  A servant, and an over-timid one,

Of God, who raised aloft the sky, who based

The earth, who corporally fused the whole:

A renegade from Him he owns himself,

And tells the reason.  Rigid turned they all

105  With dread.  “What grudge, then, ow’st thou us?  What now

Will follow?  By what deed shall we appease

The main?”  For more and far more swelling grew

The savage surges.  Then the seer begins

Words prompted by the Spirit of the Lord:12081208    Tunc Domini vates ingesta Spiritus infit.  Of course it is a gross offence against quantity to make a genitive in “us” short, as the rendering in the text does.  But a writer who makes the first syllable in “clamor” and the last syllable of gerunds in do short, would scarcely be likely to hesitate about taking similar liberties with a genitive of the so-called fourth declension.  It is possible, it is true, to take “vates” and “Spiritus” as in apposition, and render, “Then the seer-Spirit of the Lord begins to utter words inspired,” or “Then the seer-Spirit begins to utter the promptings of the Lord.”  But these renderings seem to accord less well with the ensuing words.

110  “Lo!  I your tempest am; I am the sum

Of the world’s12091209    Mundi. madness:  ’tis in me,” he says,

“That the sea rises, and the upper air

Down rushes; land in me is far, death near,

And hope in God is none!  Come, headlong hurl

115  Your cause of bane:  lighten your ship, and cast

This single mighty burden to the main,

A willing prey!”  But they—all vainly!—strive

Homeward to turn their course; for helm refused

To suffer turning, and the yard’s stiff poise

120  Willed not to change.  At last unto the Lord

They cry:  “For one soul’s sake give us not o’er

Unto death’s maw, nor let us be besprent

With righteous blood, if thus Thine own right hand

Leadeth.”  And from the eddy’s depth a whale

125  Outrising on the spot, scaly with shells,12101210    i.e., apparently with shells which had gathered about him as he lay in the deep.

Unravelling his body’s train, ’gan urge

More near the waves, shocking the gleaming brine,

Seizing—at God’s command—the prey; which, rolled

From the poop’s summit prone, with slimy jaws

130  He sucked; and into his long belly sped

The living feast; and swallowed, with the man,

The rage of sky and main.  The billowy waste

Grows level, and the ether’s gloom dissolves;

The waves on this side, and the blasts on that,

129135  Are to their friendly mood restored; and, where

The placid keel marks out a path secure,

White traces in the emerald furrow bloom.

The sailor then does to the reverend Lord

Of death make grateful offering of his fear;12111211    This seems to be the sense of Oehler’s “Nauta at tum Domino leti venerando timorem Sacrificat grates”—“grates” being in apposition with “timorem.”  But Migne reads:  “Nautæ tum Domino læti venerando timorem Sacrificant grates:”—
   “The sailors then do to the reverend Lord

   Gladly make grateful sacrifice of fear:”

   and I do not see that Oehler’s reading is much better.

140  Then enters friendly ports.

Jonah the seer

The while is voyaging, in other craft

Embarked, and cleaving ’neath the lowest waves

A wave:  his sails the intestines of the fish,

Inspired with breath ferine; himself, shut in;

145  By waters, yet untouched; in the sea’s heart

And yet beyond its reach; ’mid wrecks of fleets

Half-eaten, and men’s carcasses dissolved

In putrid disintegrity:  in life

Learning the process of his death; but still—

150  To be a sign hereafter of the Lord12121212    Comp. Matt. xii. 38–41; Luke xi. 29, 30.

A witness was he (in his very self),12131213    These words are not in the original, but are inserted (I confess) to fill up the line, and avoid ending with an incomplete verse.  If, however, any one is curious enough to compare the translation, with all its defects, with the Latin, he may be somewhat surprised to find how very little alteration or adaptation is necessary in turning verse into verse.

Not of destruction, but of death’s repulse.


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