As I mentioned here, I’m reading Dryden’s translation of the Aeneid, and I’m struck by a particular stylistic device that can best be demonstrated with a list of occurrences in the first three books:
Book 1: frothy furrows, airy throne, airy kingdoms, briny streams, finny coursers, briny waters, mossy seats, airy brow, beamy stags, tusky boar, milky dams, massy plate, plumy pride
Book 2: weedy lake, briny sweat, bushy brake, plumy crest, airy coursers, thorny brake, forky tongue, snaky buckler, leafy honors, briny floods, leafy greens
Book 3: foamy billows (2x), craggy cliff, shady shelter, ridgy waves, pitchy cloud, massy rocks, misty clouds (2x), woolly care, fenny lake, palmy land
Mind you, I’m ignoring very common adjectives like bloody, shady, dusty, etc., and citing only the ones that particularly stood out as marked collocations. I suppose a couple, like “briny waters” and “craggy cliff,” wouldn’t stand out in other surroundings, but in this company they’re clearly part of a trend. I haven’t read enough seventeenth-century poetry to be sure that it’s a peculiarity of Dryden rather than of the period, but I suspect it is. At any rate, by the time I got to “beamy stags” I was downright chuckling, doubtless not the reaction he was going for.
While I’m at it, I have a bone to pick with Dryden:
We leave the Delian ports, and put to sea;
By Naxos, fam’d for vintage, make our way;
Then green Donysa pass; and sail in sight
Of Paros’ isle, with marble quarries white.
What is this “Donysa”? He’s referring to Donousa (Greek Δονούσα), which Virgil quite properly calls Donusa (“bacchatamque jugis Naxum viridemque Donusam”); if it had been Greek Δονυσα, Virgil would have had Donysa. But it’s not, and he didn’t. Dryden needed a copyeditor.