Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/360

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
grot, and it flourished with clusters. But four fountains flowed in succession with white water, turned near one another each in different ways; but around there flourished soft meadows of violets and of parsley. There indeed even an Immortal coming would admire it when he beheld, and would be delighted in his mind.—Buckley's Translation.)
 

An analysis of this passage which points out its beauties will he found also to draw attention precisely to those parts where the author's presence is latent. The smell of the cedar, and the voice of the divine songstress accompanying the music of her loom, are, by the epithets "fragrant" and "sweet," made part of the real or imagined experience of the poet; while the word ὲποιχομένη suggests, and just suggests, glimpses that he catches of her form as she moves at her work within the cave. Then he describes the wood that shades her abode, implying, by an epithet, how that too appeals to another sense, joining with the incense that burns close by in a mixture of pleasant smells. Another feature is introduced: there are birds harboring in the branches, and the word εὺνάξοντο that describes this, by an implied comparison with the sleeping-chambers of man, shows a sort of tender way of looking at Nature. It is more than if it were merely said, "There were birds in the branches." Again, the allusion to the sea in the words τᾒσίντε θαλάσσια ἔργα μέμηλεν is a direct reflection of the poet's, in no way forming part of a description merely meant to call up an actual scene, instead of a particular way of looking at a scene. The same is true of the words that describe the vine, bending with its burden of ripe clusters, of the labyrinth of streams, and the patches of violet and parsley round them; the accompanying adjectives draw attention to beauties the poet has noticed, and wishes us to notice as well. There is hardly need to point out how the words with which the whole concludes are but an exclamation of wonder and admiration on the part of the poet at the scene he has called up.

But this is not all, for besides the selection of these various elements there is the mode of their combination into a definite picture, the order in which the images follow one another, and the gradation and transition of ideas which are all part of the art, that is, of the mind—of the self—of the author. At a distance the senses of sight and smell are first caught by the glimmer of the fire and the fragrance of what is burning in it; as Hermes approaches he hears the sound of the goddess singing at her work; coming still closer, he has leisure to mark the minute details of the scene—the cavern, the grove, and the vine; while the words ὰθάνατός περ in the concluding lines leave him in amazement, at the beauty of the whole.

Now, this may sound like hypercriticism, and it would be hypercriticism if it were meant that all these points were before the mind of the poet, forming part of an intentional study of effect. On the contrary, the implication is the direct reverse. It is because Homer was such or such a man, because he had been in the habit of regard-