Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Advent Lyrics

So one of the reasons my blogging has fallen off considerably in the past few weeks is my ongoing struggle with translation. This semester, as part of my attempt to think about translation not simply as a scholarly tool but as a literary form in itself, I've been taking a class in the writing division at my university that is essentially a seminar/workshop on translation. Granted, I'm the only early language person in there -- everyone else is translating a modern language, mostly European (with one translator working on Japanese). And so I'm finally having to engage -- really engage -- with the questions of how to make Old English both accurate and accessible.

Tomorrow I'll be presenting on the Advent Lyrics -- and for the class I've translated the first of them. Note that in Krapp and Dobbie this is called simply Christ, split into three parts (A, B, and C). I figured it might be worth posting what I have online, to see what everyone else thinks. I'm still in limbo between too much closeness to the OE and not enough -- would be curious to hear opinions on the topic. It's a familiar lyric I'd imagine -- at least, I know I can remember it as part of a responsory psalm in church from when I was growing up.

So here you are: Lyric One of the Advent Lyrics (text from Krapp and Dobbie)

ðu eart se weallstan þe ða wyrhtan iu
wiðwurpon to weorce. Wel þe geriseð
þæt þu heafod sie healle mærre,
ond gesomnige side weallas
fæste gefoge, flint unbræcne,
þæt geond eorðb... ...g eall eagna gesihþe
wundrien to worlde wuldres ealdor.
Gesweotula nu þurh searocræft þin sylfes weorc,
soðfæst, sigorbeorht, ond sona forlæt
weall wið wealle. Nu is þam weorce þearf
þæt se cræftga cume ond se cyning sylfa,
ond þonne gebete, nu gebrosnad is,
hus under hrofe. He þæt hra gescop,
leomo læmena; nu sceal liffrea
þone wergan heap wraþum ahreddan,
earme from egsan, swa he oft dyde.

And my translation:

…to the king.
You are the wall-stone, which the workers
long ago rejected from the building. It is most fitting
that you are now at the head of the great hall,
and join the wide-standing walls with
a firm fastening, and unbroken stones,
so that throughout the world all eyes may behold
and wonder at the glory of the world’s king.
Revealed now through the craft of your own working,
firm in truth and victory-bright, and soon lost,
wall towards wall. Now is the work so difficult,
that the craftsman approaches, and the king himself,
and then restores what is now broken,
the house under the roof. He shaped a penance,
with earthen radiance; now shall the Lord of Life
set the weary troop free from evils,
free from the wretchedness of monsters,
as he often has done.


moogdroog said...

Nice translation! I'm a bit puzzled by your 'shaped by penance' line though?

(PhD student in Old English btw *waves*)