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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVII (search)
by Longfellow in his Hyperion, beginning Many a year is in its grave, has infused into it a tinge of dreamy sentiment slightly beyond that conveyed by Uhland in the original. It is perhaps more beautiful, as it stands, than any of Longfellow's ballad-versions; but it is less perfect as a rendering. It is possible that Longfellow's own method swerved a little, in his later years, toward over-literalness. There are many who prefer the freer and more graceful movement of his Vision of Beatrice in the Ballads and other Poems to the stricter measure of the same passage in his completed translation. This last work has truly, as Mr. Boyesen says, an air of constraint; but I think he is in error in attributing this quality to the influence of those who met to criticise Longfellow's work; it was rather due to the strong hold taken, by the theory of a literal rendering, on the poet's mind. Overliteral-ness appears to be the Nemesis of a genius for translating; the longer a man works,