Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Andreas Translation, cont'd (168b-254)

(168b-230: Andrew is summoned; he doubts he can help)

Then from heaven a voice was heard in Achaia,
where the holy man Andrew was instructing the people
in the life’s way, when the King’s Glory, the Creator
of Mankind, the Lord of Hosts, unlocked his mind-hoard
to Andrew, decision-bold, and said thus in words: “You
must travel, bearing your peace, and seek out a journey,
where the self-eaters defend their domain, hold
their homeland through murder-craft. Such is the custom
of that multitude that they do not wish that any
unkindred men be granted their lives in that folk-land,
after the malicious discover the miserable in Mermedonia.
Killed by wretched men, a life-parting must afterwards
take place. There I know your victory-brother
to languish, in fast bounds amid those citizens.
There are now but three nights until Matthew must
yield up his soul to the spear’s grip for the sake of
the hand-strife of heathens, unless you, ready to depart,
should come before.”

At once, Andrew gave him answer:
“How can I, my Lord, accomplish this so hastily across
the deep waters, upon the far-flung wave, before that moment,
O Heaven-shaper and Wielder of Glory, as your word instructs?
That an angel can easily travel, holy from the heavens, the course
of waters known to him, the salty sea-streams and
the swan-road, the struggle of surf and the water-terrors,
the ways over the wide-lands. There are no friends
known to me there, these strange nobles, nor do
I know any of the thoughts of those men, nor are
the troop-roads over cold water familiar to me.”

Then the Lord Eternal answered him: “Alas,
Andrew, that you would ever be sluggish to the journey’s path!
There is nothing difficult for the All-wielding God
upon the earth-ways, so that that city, the king-throne renowned,
with all its inhabitants, could be planted into this very land
under the course of heaven—if the Owner of Glory decreed it in word.
You may not be slow to this journey, nor feeble in your wits,
unless you truly conceive contrary to your Sovereign,
and His true token. Be ready at the proper time—
there can be no delay of this errand! You must then set out
on a journey, bearing your spirit into the grip of furious men,
where a war-struggle will be offered to you through
the rushing crash of battle, through the war-craft of warriors.
You must mount a ship by necessity with the dawn,
even at next morrow, at the seashore—and on the cold water,
burst forth over the bath-way. Have my blessing across
my middle-earth wherever you go!”

Then the Holy Holder and Wielder, the Source of High-Angels and
the Guardian of Middle-earth departed from him, and sought
his own country, that renowned home, where the souls
of the sooth-fast can brook life after their bodies are gone.

(231-54: Andrew heads down to the shore & finds a ship)

When the message was declared to the champion of noble cities,
Andrew had no timorous mind, but was resolute
for valiant deeds, firm and stout-hearted—not at all battle-slow—
but readied by war for the contest of God. Then he himself
departed at dusk in the earliest morn, across the sandy dunes
to the sea’s shore, bold in mind, and with his thegns,
to walk upon the sand. The spear-waves* resounded, beating
the brim-streams. The warrior was hopeful after he discovered
on the shore a ship, broad-bosomed and high-spirited.
Then came the morning-shine, brightest of beacons,
over the water, holy from the darkness. The candle of heaven
gleamed over the sea-floods. Andrew found there
the ship-wards, proud and glorious men, three thegns
sitting in their sea-boat, such as they had come in over the sea.
That was the Lord himself, the Wielder of Multitudes, the Eternal
Almighty, with two of his angels. They were in the raiment
of seafarers, nobles in wave-sailors’ guise who bounce upon
the water’s embrace across the distant wave in ships upon the cold water.

238: The word here is "gar-secg," a kenning that according to Bosworth-Toller literally translates to "spear-man." It is fairly common and used to mean "the sea" (particularly in the translation of Orosius, according to Dictionary of the Old Englsih Corpus), and operates as a personification, perhaps imaging an ocean deity like Poseidon--though not necessarily, since the waves could be perceived as a field of soldiers bearing pointed weapons. The noun "secg" can also mean "sword," "sedge (grass)," or "sea" -- though it is easy to see how all four are derived from one central signification of "man" -- i.e. by metonymy, "sword" as a part of a man's possessions; the grass through simile, because it has sharp blades, and "sea" (but only attested once in this sense) by dropping off the first part of the kenning through habitual use.

1 comment:

Jeffrey J Cohen said...

What a generous endeavor this blog is.

Thanks for linking to ITM.