the total control of his language which enables him to write such deceptively simple Sanskrit. Why then should it be the despair of any transa-lator, as Mr. Coulson puts it, unless his command of his own language is not of a high order, sufficient at any rate to convey the poetic quality of the text? Mr. Coulson seems to confess as much by admitting that his "translations are often extremely low-key".
Alexander Pope whose translation of Homer is regarded as a classic in itself remarks in his preface to The Hiad:-
"I know no liberties one ought to take but those which are necessary for transferring the spirit of the original and supporting the poetical style of the translation.... Some of his translators have swelled into fustian while others have sunk into flatness in a cold and timorous notion of simplicity.... Of the two extremes one would sooner pardon frenzy than frigidity."
Reading through Mr. Coulson's translation one comes across passages which are not only in low-key but also contain misinterpretations of the text. For instance, in the sixth act of the play, the stanza beginning with svapno nu maya nu is rendered (page 129):-
"Whether it was a dream, an illusion, a mental aberration, or whether it simply exhausted all that was due me for past good deeds, I am quite certain all hope is gone-Over the precipice and beyond recall."
What Dushyanta is bemoaning as gone, perhaps for ever, is not hope but the very real experience of loving Shakuntala which now seems like a dream; and "gone over the precipice" is a complete mistake. A more faithful and less flat translation of the stanza would be:-Oh tell me, friend, was it a dream / or an illusion caused by spell or magic?/ Was I bereft of mind, or being real / did the guerdon of my past good
deeds / reach its predestined end all too soon? / It has gone, never to return. And like / the earthen banks of a river in flood / my hopes fall, and fall again.
In the humorous and lively prelude to the same act, where the guards question the fisherman caught selling the fateful signet^ring and the superintendent loftily sneers at his very clean occupation, he comes out with a shattering reply in Prakrit verse. Mr. Coulson's translation (page 120) reads :-
-^ January - March 1983