Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Riddle 45" translated by Richard Wilbur

Riddle 45

In Anglo-Saxon:

Ic on wincle gefrægn      weaxan nathwæt,
þindan ond þunian,
      þecene hebban;
on þæt banlease
      bryd grapode,
hygewlonc hondum,
      hrægle þeahte
þrindende þing
      þeodnes dohtor.

Modern English translation by Richard Wilbur:

I Saw in a Corner Something Swelling

I saw in a corner      something swelling,
Rearing, rising      and raising its cover.
A lovely lady,      a lord’s daughter,
Buried her hands      in that boneless body,
Then covered with a cloth      the puffed-up creature.

Source of the text – The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, Edited by Greg Delanty and Michael Matto.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011, pp. 321-322.

Bourguignomicon: Bodily knead. Can a tasteless pun rise to poetry after 1,000 years? Yes. Assonance, timing, & compression work to flavor this little riddle.

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