11 Dec 2007

Prose translation is for sciolists

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I was contemplating a post about Old English metrical forms to mirror the last one on word order, but I'm leaving for England and Ireland at the end of the week and don't have time to come up with anything elaborate. So instead, I present for your philological amusement my translation of one of Aldhelm's Enigmata into Old English verse.

Ic eom huses weard,    holdscipes genoh,
bold wæccende,    bryce geardstapa.
On þearle niht    ic þeostre oferfare,
ne anforlæte    þæt eagena leoht,
ne furþon in stanscræfe.    Stille ic scrence
myrrelsan grynes,    morþorfeallan,
wið ðara þe copiað    ðone cornes hord
ungesewenlicra    oft hit geripað.
Hwearfigende    huntigestre,
deora dennes    dæftlice ic sece,
ac ic mid ðæm hundes    heapas fleogan
betæcan ne sceal    þa þe tinað oft
bitere beadwa    beorcende me æfter.
Me laðlic cynn    lyðre me nemde.

Trying to write OE verse is orders of magnitude more difficult than prose translation. There are so many more variables to juggle. And I'm sure there are lingering errors. If I've done it right, though every line should scan properly. Please let me know if you spot any problems. I'm not particularly happy with lyðre in the final line, but I couldn't find any better way to make the alliteration work. [I even contemplated deleting it altogether, since the name that the line alludes to is a Latin word, muriceps, that doesn't have a direct OE equivalent.]

Here is the original text for comparison:

Fida satis custos conservans pervigil aedes,
Noctibus in furvis caecas lustrabo tenebras
Atris haud perdens oculorum lumen in antris;
Furibus invisis, vastant qui farris acervos,
Insidiis tacite dispono scandala mortis,
Et vaga venatrix rimabor lustra ferarum,
Nec volo cum canibus turmas agitare fugaces,
Qui mihi latrantes crudelia bella ciebunt.
Gens exosa mihi tradebat nomen habendum.

If you can't figure out the solution to the riddle, it's given in the title of the original, which you can find here.