A couple more “gentleman’s translations”

A kind correspondent writes:

I’ve found another couple gentleman’s translations, these ones of patristic Greek poetry.

The first is properly a lady’s translation: in 1842, Elizabeth Barret Browning submitted some verse translations, interspersed with thoughtful analysis, of the Greek fathers for publication in the Athenaeum. (As a child she had studied Greek patristics in the original with her tutor, Hugh Stuart Boyd, about whom I wrote you a little while ago.) These pieces were republished posthumously in a volume entitled The Greek Christian Poets and the English Poets, online in PDF here and plain text (sans analysis) here.

The second is a little more obscure. In 1568, a gentleman by the name of Thomas Drant published a little book of Gregory Nazianzen’s poems, entitled Epigrams and sentences spirituall in vers, of Gregori Nazanzen, an auncient & famous bishop in the Greke churche Englished by Tho. Drant. It’s happily been transcribed into HTML by the Early English Books Online people and is available online here. Unhappily, the Rev. Dr. Drant wrote before the standardization of English spelling, so his verse is at times a little hard to follow.

I’m not sure how good Drant’s translations are. The DNB includes this takedown of one of his earlier works: “The rhymed translation of Horace’s satires is wholly devoid of grace or polish.” Ouch. Still, Drant himself admitted his Latin was poorer than his Greek.

Thank you!


One thought on “A couple more “gentleman’s translations”

  1. Thinking out loud, “wholly devoid of grace or polish” might suggest more care to accuracy (as far as possible in a “rhymed translation”). Are there prose translations (of any vintage) which one could compare?

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