18 MAY 1929, Page 21

The translator's trade is a thankless and an anxious one

; and, particularly when he is dealing with the luxury article of poetry, one is inclined to forgive him his tricks and sub- terfuges. But in his collection of Spanish Lyrics (Bumpus, 6s.) Mr. K. S. Craig is an uncommonly honest salesman. He places his English and Spanish wares side by side, and there is even a touch of ingenuousness in his go-as-you-please refusal to bind himself to the literal, the paraphrase, consistent scansion, or rhyme. The result is that as poetry his English versions have little value, except in one or two sonnets where he has submitted to the discipline of the form. There is no sustained attempt to catch the ring of the Spanish metal. His rendering of Baltasar de Alcazar's Cena Jocosa, for instance, begins so well and is lathe whole spirit of this hearty ballad, that onc. regrets he surrenders too quickly to technical difficultiesand falls unexpectedly into paraphrase. This can be said of nearly all the lyrics among which are some of the best the Oxford Book of Spanish Verse contains. This,collection, howl ever, does not go beyond the .early nineteenth century. In spite of these strictures, and the surprising absence of anything by Luis de Leon, there are few English readers of Spanish poetry who will not be grateful to use Mr. Craig's book as a kind of dictionary without tears, refreshing themselves in the struggle with Lope de Vega and Gongora. by a glance at the

opposite page.