It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and the Iliad
, in all the scriptures and mythologies, not learned in the schools, that delights us.
He spends the whole day in settling whether Homer expressed himself correctly or not in such and such a line of the Iliad
, whether Martial was indecent or not in such and such an epigram, whether such and such lines of Virgil are to be understood in this way or in that; in short, all his talk is of the works of these poets, and those of Horace, Perseus, Juvenal, and Tibullus; for of the moderns in our own language he makes no great account; but with all his seeming indifference to Spanish poetry, just now his thoughts are absorbed in making a gloss on four lines that have been sent him from Salamanca, which I suspect are for some poetical tournament.
He related his fishing, and his combats, with natural poetry of expression; his recital took the form of an epic poem, and I seemed to be listening to a Canadian Homer singing the Iliad
of the regions of the North.
His Margites bears the same relation to Comedy that the Iliad
and Odyssey do to Tragedy.
There is neither Iliad
nor Odyssey to be found in the libraries of the Chinese; indeed, a favourite feature of their verse is the "stop short", a poem containing only four lines, concerning which another critic has explained that only the words stop, while the sense goes on.
In regard to the Iliad
, we have, if not positive proof, at least very good reason for believing it intended as a series of lyrics; but, granting the epic intention, I can say only that the work is based in an imperfect sense of art.
He said, in Rome, that the Pope was a noble-looking old man, but he never did think much of his Iliad
, the Hamlet, the Doric column, the Roman arch, the Gothic minster, the German anthem, when they are ended, the master casts behind him.
The Bible resembles the Pyramids; the Iliad
, the Parthenon; Homer, Phidias.
Among other volumes of verse on the top shelf of the bookcase, of which I used to look at the outside without penetrating deeply within, were Pope's translation of the Iliad
and the Odyssey, and Dryden's Virgil, pretty little tomes in tree-calf, published by James Crissy in Philadelphia, and illustrated with small copper-plates, which somehow seemed to put the matter hopelessly beyond me.
He was so fond of these stories that while still a little boy he made a play from the Iliad
which was acted by the boys of one of his schools.
In those days, when my hands were much employed, I read but little, but the least scraps of paper which lay on the ground, my holder, or tablecloth, afforded me as much entertainment, in fact answered the same purpose as the Iliad