31 JANUARY 1880, Page 23

Songs of the Hebrew Poets, in English Verse : The

Life of David. By the Rev. J. Benthall, Vicar of Willen, Bucks. (Sampson Low and Co.)—The author of this volume appears to have had two objects in view. The first, which is to connect each Psalm, or portion of a Psalm, selected with some fact in the history of David, he carries out by prefixing the appropriate part of the historical Scripture to each, either with or without comment. His second object is to give as nearly as possible a literal translation. The introduction contains some interesting remarks on the special characteristics of Hebrew poetry,—on the word " Solah," and kindred subjects. A profound acquaintance with Hebrew would be necessary in judging of the accuracy of the renderings, but the effect in English of the literalness is often either weak or painful,-z-probably owing to the totally differ- ing idioms of such widely remote languages as our own and the original. Indeed, what is doubtless grand simplicity in the one, is apt to degenerate into something bordering on the ludicrous in the other. It seems as if the spirit, like our own, must be unclothed, before it is clothed upon, if a translation is to retain the dignity and nobility of the original. Tho kind of antiphon to which this author so lovingly refers (page 6) does not seem to lose its effect, if literal translation is less strictly adhered to. As an example, and by no means an extreme one, of the failure, as we consider it, of the literal manner, we give a few lines from Psalm xxxiv., p. 70 :— " Jehovah's praise my mouth shall tell,

It ever on my lips ,hall dwell ; My soul shall boast in Him, the sad Shall hear it, and their hearts be glad.

With me, Jehovah magnify'

With me exalt his name on high.

I sought Rim; He an answer gave,

And from my terrors did me save.

They looked to Him, their hearts were light; He put their shame and fear to flight."

Compare this with the old version of Tate and Brady :— " Through all the changing scenes of life.

In trouble and in joy,

The praises of my God shall still My heart and tongue employ.

Of His deliverance will I boast, Till all that are distressed From mine example comfort take, And soothe their griefs to rest."

The Eighty-ninth Psalm, varied by three different metres, is a favourable specimen of this translator's style, but too long for insertion here.