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John Dennis, remarks on the Pindaric Ode in Preface to the Court of Death (1695)

 

.. it will not be amiss to show what the Ode and its Character is in general, what Pindar and his manner was in particular, and how far it may be convenient to imitate him in our Age and Climate.

…the Ode ought to have as much boldness, elevation and majesty, as Epic Poetry itself; but then it is certain that it ought to have more vehemence, more transport, more enthusiasm. The reason is evident, For the Design of the Ode (I mean upon great occasions) is, like that of Heroic Poetry, to move the Reader, and cause in him admiration.  Now by Heroic Poetry, the Readers mind is exalted gradually, with a more sedate and composed Majesty; but the Ode, by reason of its shortness of its compass, is obliged to fly into transport at first, and to make use immediately of all its fury, and its most violent efforts, or else it would want time to work its effect.

[on the traits of Pindar]

…here are some great qualities conspicuous in Pindar . . . his vehemence, his impetuousness, and the magnificent sounds of his numbers; and here is another thing which is the result of the rest, and that is something dreadful, something which terribly shakes us, at the very same time it transports us.  There remains some other things which all the World has observed in Pindar, and that is, his affected digressions, his perpetual rambles, and his sudden and unexpected returns.

as we ought not to imitate Pindar in the boldness of some of his figures, so neither in the wildness of his frequent digressions; as Mr. Cowley has imitated him. For the English Reader, generally speaking, not having half the degree of Fire which the Grecians had, nor Spirits so strangely volatile, cannot immediately Sympathize with an Author in his sudden and impetuous starts from his subject; nor discern in a moment the almost imperceptible connexion between the Digression and the principle matter

…the Ode ought to be by its character, strong, and warm, and grave, and great, and exalted.  (in Hooker ed., pp. I.43-4).