Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/315



poets. What was primitively done, we may suppose to bave been done for ages and ages, in an elegant raanner by the skilful, in a coarse by the untaught. In Italy and in Spain, where language is easily thrown into metre, that practice has not ceased, nor is likely to cease. That Horace followed that practice, we have his own positive words:

Verba loquor socianda chordis.

Nor was he the only poet who «associated words with sound», as he obliquely informs us that his female friend Tyndaris did the same and sung upon a stringed instrument of Penelope and Circe.

However, I do not mean that the odes of Horace carne at once in perfection from his lips. I only mean that his general method of composing them was to sing them at first and at the sound of an instrument. Their ultimate polish they certainly received by a diligent correction made at his leisure when he had put them in writing. The illustrious Metastasio, who among the modem poets approaches Horace possibly more than ány other, has often practised a like method, as I am credibly informed, and made the greatest part of his scenes while audibly singing and playing on his harpsichord. I also apprehend that the reason why blank verse couid never get firm footing in Italy, where it was first invented by a dui) poet, proceeds from the impossibility of making it flow into music, let it be ever so smooth and sounding. Even epic poetry, to be reckoned good by my country^men, must have this quality of running easily into some sort of music; nor would the Furioso and the Jeriisalem be much known, if the Italians could not sing them. I must further observe that, when an Italian says in any kind of verse «Io canto», he strictly means that he sings, or composes what may be sung; whereas, when a Frenchman says <(. Je chante», or an Englishman «I sing», they mean no more than that they are composing verse.

Let US, however, leave sub indice the question, whether Horace composed his odes according to the practice of many

G. Bakktti, Prefazioni e polemiche. 20