Wednesday, December 19, 2018

King Alfred's Verse Preface to his translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy

Original Anglo-Saxon text:

Verse Preface

Ðus Ælfred us        eald-spell reahte,
cyning West-sexna,        cræft meldode,
leoð-wyrhta list.        Him wæs lust micel
ðæt he ðiossum leodum        leoð spellode,
monnum myrgen,        mislice cwidas,
þy læs ælinge        ut adrife
selflicne secg,        þonne he swelces lyt
gymð for his gilpe.        Ic sceal giet sprecan,
fon on fitte,        folc-cuðne ræd
hæleðum secgean.        Hliste se þe wille.

Translation into Modern English by Susan Irvine and Malcolm R. Godden:

Verse Preface

Alfred, King of the West Saxons,
told us an old story in this manner, made known his ability,
his skill as a poet. He had a great desire
to proclaim verse to these people,
entertainment for them, varied speeches,
lest tedium should drive away
the self-regarding man, when he pays little heed
to such a matter because of his pride. I must yet speak out,
engage in poetry, tell to men
well-known advice. Let him listen who will.

Source of the text – The Old English Boethius, with Verse Prologues and Epilogues Associated with King Alfred, edited and translated by Susan Irvine and Malcolm R. Godden. Cambridge, Mass.: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, Harvard University Press, 2012, p. 4-5.

TJB: Selfie shtick. The poet-king speaks in third then first person, holding us spellbound with sonorous hypotactic speech, & dishing up wisdom.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me