I have placed this among source texts as well as those which are possbly by Anne Finch. I think it may be by her, but since it comes outside the series of ten, and lacks some of the characteristics of all her verse (seriousness, a personal note, an intensity of aim), I can't place it as surely as the others. See Annotated Chronology No. 272 A Hymn to Venus, from the Greek of Sapho, as it appears in 1714 Steele's Poetical Miscellanies, pp 299-30, "Immortal Venus, to whose Name". See Texts, 1714 Steele, "Grown old in Rhyme, 'twere barbarous to discard" and compare with Finch's adaptations and imitations from Dacier's other translations from Sappho, viz., A Sigh: "Gentlest Air thou breath of Lovers", The First Edilium of Bion English'd by the Right Honourable the Earl of Winchilsea, "Mourn all ye Loves the fair Adonis dyes," and Anne's two anacreontics, "The Muses frolicksom and gay"; "When Mars the Lemnian Darts survey'd" , and the erotic songs and verse from Finch's two plays (e.g, Marina's pastoral eroticism in The Triumphs of Love and Innocence, Act II, scene i; from Aristomenes, "Love's soft bands,/His gentle cords of Hyacinths and Roses,/Wove in the dewy spring when storms are silent"). See also An Annotated Bibliography: Primary and Secondary Sources for all Finch's translations (paraphrases), imitations and adaptations.
A Hymn to Venus, from the Greek of Sapho
Immortal Venus, to whose Name
Millions of Altars daily flame;
Daughter of Jove, whos flatt'ring Art
Knows well to wound a Wretch'd Heart;
Sapho to you directs her Prayers:
Afflict not thus my Soul with Cares;
But ah! expel this raging Pain,
Nor let my Wishes prove in vain.
If Miseries your Pity move,
If Sapho has deserv'd your Love,
Hear me, and ease a tortur'd Mind,
And still, as you were once, be kind;
When Pity sway'd your gentle Breast,
And me above my Hopes you blest.
Hither from Heav'n you took your Way,
For ever Sacred be that Day;
Your wanton Birds the Chariot drew,
Like Lightning thro' the Clouds they flew,
With opening Wings they cut the Air,
And left on Earth their Heav'nly Care;
Then swiftly back your Sparrows flie,
And waft the Chariot to the skie.
A pleasing Smile your Face adorn'd:
You ask'd the Cause for which I mourn'd;
'Twas then those joyful Words you said,
Why does my Sapho seek my Aid?
If Love distress'd has caus'd your Pain,
You shall not sue to me in vain.
The Youth whose Graces you admire,
Shall burn again with equal Fire;
Doom'd, tho' he now your Passion flies,
A certain Victim to your Eyes.
O Venus, with propitious Care,
Indulge my Flame, receive my Prayer;
The Torments of uncertain Love,
From my soft bleeding Heart remove;
Ah! with your own resistless Fire,
Your dying Votary inspire;
Do thou, bright Goddess, grant Success,
My Numbers shall thy Power confess.
This poem is found in POETICAL MISCELLANIES, Consisting of ORIGINAL POEMS AND TRANSLATIONS by the best Hands. Published by MR. STEELE. LONDON: Printed for JACOB TONSON at Shakespear's Head over-against Catherine-street inthe Strand. MDDCXIV, pp. 299-300. There are a series of ten poems in this book ,the first and eight of which are known to be by Finch; the fifth is dedicated to Flavia with a description that makes Flavia sound like Mrs Catherine Fleming who had the pseudonym Flavia; three others Reynolds felt to be by Finch; of these two come from the same source as Finch's "A Sigh" and "Melinda upon an Insipid Beauty". This eleventh poem is placed out of the series. While it is not sufficiently persuasively by Finch, it resembles the imitation to Bion, uses the same opening as Longepierre in another idyll in this same book, and resembles Finch's other imitations of Dacier and the erotic songs from her plays.
The source texts are as follows:
Grande & immortelle Venus, qui avez des Temples dans tous les lieux du monde, fille de Jupiter, qui prenez tant de plaisir á tromper les Amans; je vous prie de n'accabler point mon coeur de peines & d'ennuis. Mais, si jamais vous m'avez esté favorable, venez aujourd'huy á mon secours, & daignez écouter mes prieres, comme autre fois, lorsque vous voulûtes bien quiter [sic] la demeure de vôtre père pour venir ici. Vous estiez montée sur un char que de legers passereaux avec rapidité, par le milieu de l'air. Ils s'en retournerent si-tôt qu'ils vous eurent amenée, & alors, charmante Déesse, vous voulûtes bien me [p. 411] demander avec un visage riant, quel estoit le sujet de mes plaintes, & pourquoy je vous avois invoquée. Vous me demandâtes aussi ce que mon coeur souhaitoit avec le plus de passion, & quel jeune homme je desirois d'engager & de mettre dans mes filets. Qui est celui, me dites vous, qui est celuy qui te méprise, Sapho? Ha s'il te fuit maintenant, dans peu il ne pourra vivre loin de toy, & s'il refuse tes presens, le temps viendra qu'il t'en sera a son tour. S'il a de l'indiference, au premier jour il brûlera d'amour & se soûmettra á tes loix. Aujourd'huy donc, grande Déese, venez encore, je vous prie, me secourir, & me tirer des cruelles inquietudes qui me devorent. Faites que tous les desirs de mon coeur soient accomplis, & veuillez m'accorder vôtre protection.
Dacier's commentary is mostly about different readings of words and ends with her father's translation of the Ode into Latin. She assumes the poem is autobiographical and Sappho's lover was Phaon, is pleased by the teasing quality; and finds remarkable leur harmonie, & sur liaison des voyelles & des consones. Ce qui n'auroit point de grace dans notre Langue, & ne seroit pas meme entendu …
Immortelle Venus, divinité puissante,
Second mon ardeur, répons a mon attente
Je combats pour ta gloire…
If my tentative supposition or speculation is correct, all these erotic poems from the French by Finch suggest that Wordsworth's sense of the more sensual side of Finch's poetry in her unpublished plays, which she worked hard to subdue and suppress is accurate. We need to find another manuscript copy of the poem, one where it appears with a group of Finch's poems lined up in a row, where at least one or two are attributed to her, or one or two we know to be by her are accompanied with a "by the same hand" for this and others.
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