Wednesday, August 23, 2023

From "Bisclavret" by Marie de France, lines 1-14

From "Bisclavret" by Marie de France, lines 1-14

[Original text in Anglo-Norman]

Quant des lais faire m'entremet,
Ne voil ublier Bisclavret;
Bisclavret ad nun en bretan;
Garwaf l'apelent li Norman.

Jadis le poeit hum oïr
E sovent suleit avenir,
Hume plusur garval devindrent
E es boscages meisun tindrent.
Garwalf, ceo cest beste salvage;
Tant cum il est in cele rage,
Hummes devure, grant mal feit,
Es granz forez converse e vait.
Cest afere les ore ester;
Del islavret vus voil cunter.

[English translation by Dorothy Gilbert]

In crafting lays, I won't forget
—I mustn’t—that of Bisclavret;
Bisclavret: so named in Breton;
But Garwaf in the Norman tongue.

One used to hear, in times gone by
—it often happened, actually—
men became werewolves, many men,
and in the forest made their den.
A werewolf is a savage beast;
in his blood-rage, he makes a feast
of men, devours them, does great harms,
and in vast forests lives and roams.
Well, for now, let us leave all that;
I want to speak of Bisclavret.

Source of the text - Marie de France, Poetry (A Norton critical edition), translated and edited by Dorothy Gilbert.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015, pages 48-49.

TJB: Chatty, personable, singsong-y, the poet raises the subject of toxic masculinity—sorry, werewolves—and calls attention to changing subjects.

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