Friday, June 16, 2006

Poetry Friday

With the MotherReader of all challenges starting today, I won't be adding the list of Poetry Friday contributors until Monday.

One of my favorite Mark Twain short stories takes place in heaven, with the modern (19th century) person amazed that so few people speak English. Even in England! English as we know it is a fairly new language. *

So my Poetry Friday selection is a shout out to Old English: Beowulf:

Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,

monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra

ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning!

(For the rest of the original text, go here.)

Translation:

Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!

(For the rest of this translation, go here.)

Additional resources: The upcoming film;
the Seamus Heaney translation;
the wikipedia entry;
the Old English translator;
Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead reinterpretation and the film adaptation, The 13th Warrior;

Mark Twain's story (and I forget the title!) has made me quite forgiving of modern movies set before the 15th century, in that how can we mock Kevin Costner for an English accent (or lack thereof), when had the film been "real" we would have needed subtitles? Even for those with English accents?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liz, that would be "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven." It's one of those with the whole text easily available online. Way to distract me from mundane tasks. M.

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