A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Playing the Saxon Tome

For those of you who have never seen Olde English, I thought I would post up an example from the book ``An Old English Anthology``. I bought this at the end of a bookfair, largely because you could stuff whatever remained in a grocery bag and pay just $1. Unfortunately, these writings do not come with translations, so I haven`t the foggiest idea what they say! (A few have Latin translations, but I don`t speak Latin either so it`s all Greek to me!)

At any rate, I thought it would be interesting to see what Olde English looked like. This particular piece is a love poem (or so the notes say) about a Viking woman`s relationship with her (generally absent) husband and her lover.


Leodum is minum swylce him mon lac gife
Willao hy hine apecgan gif he on preat cymed
Ungelic is us.

Wulf is on iege, ic on operre.
Faest is paet eglond fenne biworpen.
Sindon waelreowe weras paer on ige.
Willao hy hine apecgan gif he on preat cymed.
Ungelic is us.

Wulfes is mines widlastum wenum dogode.
Ponne hit waes renig weder ond ic reotugu saet,
ponne mec se beaducafa bogum bilegde;
waes me wyn to pon, waes me hwaelpre eac lad.

Wulf min Wulf, wena me pine
seoce gedydon, pine seldcymas,
murnende mod, nales meteliste.
Gehyrest bu Eadwacer? Uncerne earne hwelp
bired wulf to wuda.
Paet mon eape toslited paette naefre gesomnad waes,
uncer giedd geador.

If any of you, my learned readers, have the foggiest idea what this says-feel free to clue me in!



Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Tim, shame on you, using such language in a family-oriented blog!
I would never use such words myself, but for anyone who is now even more eager to know what they mean in more modern English, let me suggest you dig out your German-English dictionary and you might be able to figure it out (though that might depend on the quality and scope of your dictionary).
Then you will have to wash off your eyeballs with soap.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the ravings of a bad poet..

6:15 PM  
Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

I humbly apologize for my use of such vulgar language, Michael.

Thanks for dropping by, Morris!

7:42 PM  
Blogger Aussiegirl said...

Tim, a search on the internet came up with this translation and explanation:

Krapp, George Philip, and Elliot Van Kirk Dobbie, eds. The Exeter Book. ASPR 3. New York: Columbia UP, 1936. Note: The interpretation of Wulf and Eadwacer is much in dispute, and my translation, obviously, presents only one reading. The situation has traditionally been thought to be this: an unnamed woman speaker, in love with a man, Wulf--long away from her, perhaps in exile--has, meantime, been taken as wife or mistress by another warrior, Eadwacer; the speaker laments her position and cries out against Eadwacer.

Hyperlinks to annotations are added in-line in the text, in bolded brackets.

To my people it is as if one offered them battle [ 1 ]:
they will receive him, if he with threat [ 2 ] comes. [ 3 ]
Unlike is it to us.
Wulf is on one island, I on another.
Fast is that island, by fen surrounded;5
fierce are the men on that island:
they will receive him, if he with threat [ 4 ] comes.
Unlike is it to us.
My Wulf's wide-wanderings, expected, I endure.
When it was rainy weather, and I sat tearful,10
then that battle-bold [ 5 ] clasped me in arms:
delight to me, that, yet pain as well.
Wulf, my Wulf, my hopes of thee
sickened me, thy seldom-coming,
a mourning mind, not lack of food.15
Hearest thou, Eadwacer? Our [ 6 ] sorry whelp
A Wulf bears to woods.
One easily slits what never was joined:
our song together.

Translation copyright © 1982, Jonathan A. Glenn

12:05 PM  
Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Shucks, I thought my facetious shock would encourage a lot more efforts at translating it.
I guess parody and/or satire does not work too well on the Net.
Actually I had not the foggiest idea what the poem was about.
Thanks to Aussiegirl for finding one version.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Here is a very interesting discussion of the poem, one that mirrors, somewhat, the comment by Morris:
Though I have no valid claims to scholasticity, I enjoyed this, all of it, from Tim's first publishing to Aussiegirl's discovered translation.
It sure beats the heck out of, for example, discussions of Harriet Miers or George W. Bush.

6:12 PM  

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