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Christopher Pitt (1699 – 13 April 1748) was an English poet and translator.
Vida's Art of Poetry (1725)
- Be sure from nature never to depart;
To copy nature is the task of art.
The noblest poets own her sovereign sway,
And ever follow where she leads the way.
- Book II, p. 69
- Nor would I scruple, with a due regard,
To read sometimes a rude unpolished bard,
Among whose labours I may find a line
Which from unsightly rust I may refine,
And, with a better grace, adopt it into mine.
- Book III, p. 93
- To all, proportioned terms he must dispense,
And make the sound a picture of the sense.
- Book III, p. 103
The Æneid of Virgil (1740)
- If some grave sire appears, amid the strife,
In morals strict, and innocence of life,
All stand attentive, while the sage controuls
Their wrath, and calms the tempest of their souls.
- Book I, line 206
- Ah, mighty Queen! you urge me to disclose,
And feel, once more, unutterable woes.
- Book II, line 3
- Arms! arms! my friends, with speed my arms supply,
'Tis our last hour, and summons us to die;
My arms!—in vain you hold me,—let me go—
Give, give me back this moment to the foe.
'Tis well—we will not tamely perish all,
But die revenged, and triumph in our fall.
- Book II, line 899
- Thrice round her neck my eager arms I threw;
Thrice from my empty arms the phantom flew,
Swift as the wind, with momentary flight,
Swift as a fleeting vision of the night.
- Book II, line 1064
- Now on a towering arch of waves we rise,
Heaved on the bounding billows, to the skies.
Then, as the roaring surge retreating fell,
We shoot down headlong to the depths of hell.
- Book III, line 761
- But oh! may Earth her dreadful gulf display,
And gaping snatch me from the golden day;
May I be hurled, by Heaven's almighty fire,
Transfixed with thunder, and involved in fire,
Down to the shades of Hell, from realms of light,
The deep, deep shades of everlasting night.
- Book III, line 35
- I proved unfaithful to my former spouse,
And now I reap the fruits of broken vows!
- Book IV, line 797
- The shrill echoes ring amidst the skies.
- Book IV, line 960
- Smooth lies the road to Pluto's gloomy shade,
And hell's black gates for ever stand displayed,
But 'tis a long unconquerable pain,
To climb to these ethereal realms again.
- Book VI, line 182
- A mighty tree, that bears a golden bough.
- Book VI, line 197
- Ye subterranean gods! whose awful sway
The gliding ghosts and silent shades obey:
O Chaos, hear! and Phlegethon profound!
Whose solemn empire stretches wide around!
Give me, ye great tremendous powers! to tell
Of scenes and wonders in the depths of Hell;
Give me your mighty secrets to display
From those black realms of darkness to the day.
- Book VI, line 371
- Be this your nobler praise in times to come,
These your imperial arts, ye sons of Rome!
O'er distant realms to stretch your awful sway,
To bid those nations tremble and obey;
To crush the proud, the suppliant foe to rear,
To give mankind a peace, or shake the world with war.
- Book VI, line 1209
- Poor pitied youth! ...
Bring fragrant flowers, the whitest lilies bring,
With all the purple beauties of the spring;
These gifts at least, these honours I'll bestow
On the dear youth, to please his shade below.
- Book VI, line 1259
- So from a brazen vase the trembling stream
Reflects the lunar or the solar beam:
Swift and elusive of the dazzled eyes,
From wall to wall the dancing glory flies:
Thence to the ceiling shoot the glancing rays,
And o'er the roof the quivering splendor plays.
- Book VIII, line 33
- But hear, ye gods! and Heaven's great ruler, hear,
With due regard, a king's and father's prayer!
My dear, dear Pallas, if the fates ordain
Safe to return, and bless these eyes again:
With age, pain, sickness, this one blessing give;
On this condition I'll endure to live.
But oh! if fortune has decreed his doom,
Now, now, by death, prevent my woes to come;
Now, while my hopes and fears uncertain flow,
Now, ere she lifts her hand to strike the blow;
While in these feeble arms I strain the boy,
My sole delight, my last surviving joy.
Ere the sad news of his untimely doom
Shall bow this head with sorrow to the tomb!
- Book VIII, line 776
- Infernal gods, who rule the shades below,
Chaos and Phlegethon, the realms of woe;
Grant what I've heard I may to light expose,
Secrets which earth, and night, and hell inclose!
- Richard Maitland, 4th Earl of Lauderdale, The Works of Virgil, Translated Into English Verse (1709), Aeneid, Book VI, lines 328–331, p. 210
Quotes about Pitt
- The success of his Vida animated him to a higher undertaking; ...he gave us a complete English Eneid. Pitt, engaging as a rival with Dryden, naturally observed his failures, and avoided them; and, as he wrote after Pope's Iliad, he had an example of an exact, equable, and splendid versification. With these advantages, seconded by great diligence, he might successfully labour particular passages, and escape many errors. If the two versions are compared, perhaps the result would be, that Dryden leads the reader forward by his general vigour and sprightliness, and Pitt often stops him to contemplate the excellence of a single couplet; that Dryden's faults are forgotten in the hurry of delight, and that Pitt's beauties are neglected in the languor of a cold and listless perusal; that Pitt pleases the criticks, and Dryden the people; that Pitt is quoted, and Dryden read.
- Samuel Johnson, The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1781), Pitt, pp. 245–247.
- I received a letter from you with satisfaction, having long been desirous of any occasion of testifying my regard for you, and particularly of acknowledging the pleasure your Version of Vida's Poetick had afforded me. I had it not indeed from your bookseller, but read it with eagerness, and think it both a correct and a spirited translation. I am pleased to have been (as you tell me) the occasion of your undertaking that work: that is some sort of merit; and, if I have any in me, it really consists in an earnest desire to promote and produce, as far as I can, that of others. [...] I am obliged to you, Sir, for expressing a much higher opinion of me than I know I deserve: the freedom with which you write is yet what obliges and pleases me more; and it is with sincerity that I say, I would rather be thought by every ingenious man in the world, his servant, than his rival.
- Alexander Pope, letter to Christopher Pitt (dated 23 July 1726); in The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq., in Nine Volumes, Complete, Vol. VII (1797), Letters, pp. 381–382.
- In fine, if my partiality to Mr. Pitt does not mislead me, I should think he has executed his work [The Æneid of Virgil] with great spirit, that he has a fine flow of harmonious versification, and has rendered his author's sense with faithfulness and perspicuity.
- Joseph Warton, The Works of Virgil, Volume I (1753), Dedication, p. xxv.
- Encyclopedic article on Christopher Pitt on Wikipedia