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The Odes of Casimire, Translated by G. Hils   By: (1595-1640)

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The Augustan Reprint Society


The Odes of Casimire, Translated by G. Hils


With an Introduction by Maren Sofie Roestvig

Publication Number 44

Los Angeles William Andrews Clark Memorial Library University of California 1953


RICHARD C. BOYS, University of Michigan RALPH COHEN, University of California, Los Angeles VINTON A. DEARING, University of California, Los Angeles LAWRENCE CLARK POWELL, Clark Memorial Library


W. EARL BRITTON, University of Michigan


EMMETT L. AVERY, State College of Washington BENJAMIN BOYCE, Duke University LOUIS BREDVOLD, University of Michigan JOHN BUTT, King's College, University of Durham JAMES L. CLIFFORD, Columbia University ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, University of Chicago EDWARD NILES HOOKER, University of California, Los Angeles LOUIS A. LANDA, Princeton University SAMUEL H. MONK, University of Minnesota ERNEST C. MOSSNER, University of Texas JAMES SUTHERLAND, University College, London H. T. SWEDENBERG, JR., University of California, Los Angeles


EDNA C. DAVIS, Clark Memorial Library


Mathias Casimire Sarbiewski (1595 1640) vas a Polish Jesuit whose neo Latin Horatian odes and Biblical paraphrases gained immediate European acclaim upon their first publication in 1625 and 1628.[1] The fine lyric quality of Sarbiewski's poetry, and the fact that he often fused classical and Christian motifs, made a critic like Hugo Grotius actually prefer the "divine Casimire" to Horace himself, and his popularity among the English poets is evidenced by an impressive number of translations.

G. Hils's Odes of Casimire (1646), here reproduced by permission from the copy in the Henry E. Huntington Library, is the earliest English collection of translations from the verse of the Polish Horace. It is also the most important. Acknowledged translations of individual poems appeared in Henry Vaughan's Olor Iscanus (1651), Sir Edward Sherburne's Poems and Translations (1651), the Miscellany Poems and Translations by Oxford Hands (1685), Isaac Watts's Horae Lyricae (1706), Thomas Brown's Works (1707 8), and John Hughes's The Ecstasy. An Ode (1720). Unacknowledged paraphrases from Casimire include Abraham Cowley's "The Extasie,"[2] John Norris's "The Elevation,"[3] and a number of Isaac Watts's pious and moral odes.[4] Latin editions of Casimire's odes appeared in London in 1684, and in Cambridge in 1684 and 1689.

Another striking example of the direct influence of Casimire upon English poetry is presented by Edward Benlowes's Theophila (1652). This long winded epic of the soul exhibits not only a general indebtedness in imagery and ideas, but also direct borrowings of whole lines from Hils's Odes of Casimire . One example will have to suffice:

Casimire, Ode IV, 44

Theophila , XIII, 68

Let th' Goth his strongest chaines prepare, The Scythians hence mee captive teare, My mind being free with you, I'le stare The Tyrants in the face....

Then let fierce Goths their strongest chains prepare; Grim Scythians me their slave declare; My soul being free, those tyrants in the face I'll stare.

Casimire's greatest achievement was in the field of the philosophic lyric, and in a number of cases he anticipated poetic techniques and motifs which later grew popular also with the English poets. Thus, long before Denham and Marvell, he practised the technique of investing the scenes of nature with a moral or spiritual significance. A comparison of Casimire's loco descriptive first epode on the estate of the Duke of Bracciano with Denham's Cooper's Hill (1642) reveals that the Polish poet was the first to mix description with moral reflection, and to choose the gentle hills, the calmly flowing river, and a retired country life as symbols of the Horatian golden mean... Continue reading book >>

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