"GRAVES, KIPLING, KNOX, GODLEY AND ALL "
An Editorial from The Kipling Journal of June 2003
We have published relatively little on Kipling and Horace – most of the early references are fairly minor, the most significant being in No.97, pp.3—4 (Apr 1950) which carries "The Preface to the Fifth Book of Horace's Odes translated by S.A. Courtauld". An excellent overview appears in No. 124, pp.8-11 (Dec 1957) with an article by Roger Lancelyn Green entitled "Kipling and Horace". After this, there is "Kipling's Classics" by Susan Treggiari in No.181, pp.7-12 (Mar 1972), and finally, several references to the publication in 1978 of Kipling's Horace by Prof C.E. Carrington with a review of this by Mrs P.E. Easterling in No.224, pp.31-36 (Dec 1982). These have all been quarried for this note.
Although aware of Q. Horati Flacci Carminum Liber Quintum, I had not looked at it, nor followed up the references made in Something of Myself (p.33), nor those by the various biographers – hence a visit to our Library was called for. Although Kipling wrote several poems which he attributes to Book V, only three of the Odes and one prose version of "The Pro-Consuls" in the 'fake' fifth book are by Kipling – Ode 1 "A Translation" (collected as Ode 3 in A Diversity of Creatures), Ode 6 "The Pro-Consuls" (collected in The Years Between), and Ode 13 "Lollius", the only one written specifically for the collaborative work.
Charles Graves, who contributed the remaining twelve odes, wrote in a letter on 10 September 1941 that
It occurred to him [Kipling] about the blackest time of the last war, end of 1917 and early months of 1918, as a means of keeping up one's spirits and distracting our thoughts from present troubles, and he wrote to me outlining his plan and making many admirable suggestions for subjects of the sham odes ... he was "the begetter" of the scheme. His next step was to secure a band of scholars to translate them into Latin, and he could not have got a better-equipped company, [Arthur] Godley, [Monsignor Ronald] Knox, [Alan] Ramsay and [John] Powell.The poems that Kipling attributed to Book V were composed in English – but he did other work which started from the Latin. The translation of Book III Ode ix "Donec gratus eram" into pure Devon- shire dialect whilst at U.S.C. is described in "An English School" [Land & Sea Tales, p.268] and can be found in Charles Carrington's Rudyard Kipling or Rutherford's Early Verse. But the true delights of his translations are to be found in the 55 epigrams which capture the essence of the original Horace, and which Kipling wrote down in the margins of his own copy of the Odes [edited by E.G. Wickham, 1910]. This he acquired in 1912. Eleven of them are given in Mrs Easterling's review, fourteen in R.L. Green's The Freer Verse Horace, three in CE. Carrington's biography, Rudyard Kipling, and all in his Kipling's Horace, published in a Limited Edition of 500 (Methuen & Co, London, 1978), then in facsimile as a private printing of 100 in 1980.
Here are three examples of the lighter variety which have not appeared in the Journal before – the full translations of Horace are by Prof John Conington, M.A., abstracted from the Project Gutenberg ebook of his Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace (c. 1863).
Book III, xxvi. VIRI PUELLIS
David Page June 2003
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