Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The rest of Genesis XXIV

Then afterwards Noah with his own sons enjoyed his broad realm
for three hundred winters of this life, and fifty more, freemen
after the flood, when he died. Afterwards his sons distributed
his riches, begetting children. Bright prosperity was theirs.
Then children were produced by Japheth, a happy hearth-band
of near kin, sons and daughters. He was good himself,
ever holding the realm, the joys of one’s country, its fruits
with his children until the hoard of his breast, his hastening spirit
must be gone to the judgment of God. Gomer afterwards as father
doled out the household goods to his friends, his own
and those near to him, the son of Japheth. No small deal
of the created earth was fulfilled by the stock of that lineage. (1598-1614)

Likewise Ham’s son were brought forth, heirs to the homeland.
The eldest were named Cush and Canaan, very noble souls,
the first-born of Ham. Cush was chief to the noblemen,
dispenser of desires and worldly goods to his brothers,
the home-treasures, father behind him, after Ham departed forth
from his body, when death divided him. The people’s chief
pronounced judgments for his tribe, until the count of his days
were run out. Then the warrior gave up his earth-bound possessions,
seeking another life, the father of Nimrod. His first-born after him,
the son of Cush wielded the heritage-seat, a widely famous man,
as the Scriptures tell us, that he had the most power and strength
of mankind in those ancient days. He was the origin
of the kingly realm of Babylon, its first nobleman.
He exalted its nation-strength, extending and building it.
Its one speech was still common to the earth-dwellers. (1615-36)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Genesis XXIII (& part of XXIV)

Then with a holy voice our Savior spoke to Noah,
the Ward of Heaven’s Realm: “For you is a country-seat
again provided, delight on land, a rest from your ocean-paths,
fair upon the earth. Depart in my peace and go out of the Ark,
and lead your family from this high house into the bosom of the earth
and all your progeny which I saved in a ship from the water-throes
while the ocean held that third homeland and majestically covered it.” (1483-92)

Noah did so and obeyed the Lord, going up over the stream-wall
as the voice commanded him, very joyfully, and lead out then
from that wave-plank the survivors of that wicked race.
Then Noah firm in counsel began to prepare a gift for his savior,
and the wise man quickly took a part of all his possessions,
which the Lord had given to him for his prosperity, as a sacrifice,
and to God himself, the King of Angels, the bright-minded hero
made his offering. Indeed our Savior made it known,
when he blessed Noah and his children together,
that he had given that sacrifice thankfully and that he had
merited it by his good deeds in his youth. Then the Almighty God
was gracious to him of all his favors, powerful of his prosperity.
Once again the Lord, the Prince of Glory said a word unto Noah: (1493-1511)

“Now multiply and be fruitful, enjoy the glory
amid the peace of joy. Fill the earth. Increase all things.
Into your power is given the country-seat and the seas’s burden
and the heaven-fowl and the wild beasts, the all-greening earth
and the abundant cattle. Never eat the food of your table
with blood, shamefully polluted with sin’s soul-blood.
Each one deprives himself of the glories of the soul who first
destroys the life of another with the point of a spear. Nor needs he
by that repayment to rejoice in his mind-counsel, but I will declare
that man’s soul as a slayer and a brother-killer very loudly
after that bloodshed, a slaying of man with weapons is effected,
a deadly sin with his hands. Man was first shaped to God’s likeness. (1512-29)

“Everyone has the form of the Maker and the angels who would
keep these blessed customs. Prosper and grow, enjoy your
desires, honor upon the earth. Nobly fill the corners of the earth
with your descendants, line and stock. I shall give to you my pledge,
that I will never bring the watery armies back to middle-earth,
waters over the wide-lands. You can be shown a readable sign
very often in the sky, when I reveal my shower-bow, that I will fulfill
my promise to men, so long as the world stands.” (1530-42)

Then the wise son of Lamech came forth from the vessel
from the tracks of the flood with his three sons, the keepers
of his heritage (and their four wives: they were named Percoba,
Olla, Olliva, and Ollivani),* pledge-fast to the Maker,
survivor of the waters. The mind-brave heroes were called,
the sons of Noah: Shem and Ham and Japheth the third.
From these warriors grew the people and all middle-earth
became filled with the sons of men. (1543-54)


Then with a renewed voice Noah began with his near-kin
to establish a home and till the earth for his food, dark
and done over, setting up a vineyard and sowing many seeds,
eagerly seeking the beautiful blossoms they brought to him,
the year-bright gift, the green earth. (1555-61)

Then it came to pass that the blessed man in his home,
drunk upon wine, sleeping feast-weary, and his clothing
was moved from his body. It was not so appropriate,
lying there limb-naked. He hardly noticed what had
so miserably happened to him in his house, when in his heart
a head-swimming had seized his thought in that holy house.
Strongly in his sleep his mind narrowed so that he could not,
dazed in his mind, cover himself with his garment by his own hands
and hide his shame, as the genitals were for men and women,
since the servant of glory, our father and mother were locked out
of our homeland, with a fiery sword behind them. (1562-76)

Then came Ham first, moving inside, the son of Noah,
where his lord lay, deprived of his wits. There he did not wish
to observe so familiarly the honor of his own father,
nor truly to conceal the shame of his close kin, but he laughing
said to his brothers, how the man rested himself in his hall.
Then they stepped to him at once, their faces skillfully covered
in their cloaks, so that they, dear men, could provide help.
They were both good men, Shem and Japheth. When he started
from sleep, the son of Lamech, and then immediately understood
that Ham did not wish to show him, the noble man,
any favor or troth for him in his need. For that, the holy man
was sore in his heart, he began to curse wordfully his own child,
saying that Ham must be miserable under the sky,
the servant of his own near-kin on earth. And this curse
has harmed him and his descendants terribly. (1577-97)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Genesis XXII

Almost done with the Flood, and almost done with the guidance of Bradley's translation. Though I have always had problems with his work, he has proven a sure guide through the Genesis so far. Now after the next section (XXIII), his translation ends and I will be forced to look solely to Kennedy's for advice. I sure liked his translation of the Cynewulf poems, but I have discovered that his Genesis is not very reliable at all. Too many spots where he skips over an uncertain passage, too many places he follows the Latin more closely than the Old English. I'll just have to rely more on myself from here on out.

There is just so much more of the Genesis to go. I'm at line 1482 and there are roughly 1,450 more to go. Exciting stuff: the Tower of Babel, the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the story of Abraham and Isaac, but still no end in sight. At this rate it will be October before I get through it. Now I can see why Bradley quit (if he did quit), but I can't quit. The Genesis was the reason I started this whole thing in the first place, so that there would be a complete, new translation of the poem to use in the classroom. That's the goal that must fire my engines through the next long haul.

Thanks to those that have contacted me about the translations. Your encouragement helps me greatly, and let's me know that I'm on the right track. Actually, when I add it all together, eighteen sections is not really all that much. I have been able to do one every week or five days. I could be done pretty soon if I didn't have so many other things to focus on.

Thanks Internets for your help -- talking it out was very helpful!


Then was God, the Sovereign of Victories, mindful
of the sea-sailor, the son of Lamech and all that progeny
that he had closed up against the water, Light-First of Life,
in the bosom of the ship. Then the Lord of Hosts led the warrior
by word over the wide-lands. The welling flood soon began to wane.
The seas ebbed, swart under the sky. The true Maker had
soon turned back the water-streams for his child,
the bright course of water, and stilled the rain. (1407-16)

The foamy ship journeyed for a hundred and fifty nights
beneath the heavens, since the flood heaved up the nailed deck,
the best of boats until a certain count of terrible days had passed by.
Then the greatest of wave-halls, the Ark of Noah was set
with its burden high upon the mountains which are called
Armenia. The blessed one waited for a long while,
the son of Lamech, for the true promise, when the Warden of Life,
the Lord Almighty gave him rest from the perilous journey,
from those he had widely undergone when the dark waves
had borne him on the sea beyond the broad earth. (1417-30)

The sea was receding; it caused the heroes, the wave-sailors
and wives too to long when they from the narrowness
over the nailed deck were allowed to step across the ocean’s shore
and lead out their cattle from that confined space.
Then helmsman of the ship searched out whether the sea-flood
was sinking once again according to the pledge under the skies.
Then after a number of days, after that high hillside had taken his hoard
and also the descent of the stock of the earth, the son of Lamech
let fly a dark raven out of the house across the high-flood.
Noah supposed that the bird, if he did not find land
on his journey, would, by necessity seek the wave-plank
across the wide waters. Soon his hope deceived him—
the fiend perched upon floating corpses,
and dark-feathered did not seek to return. (1431-48)

Then, seven nights after the black raven flew out
from the Ark, he let a dusky dove fly out over the high waters
on a test whether the deep and foamy sea had once again
given up any part of the green earth. She sought her desire
widely and flew broadly. She did not yet find rest,
so that she could perch her feet upon the land or
step upon the leaf of the tree for the streaming waters,
but the steep slopes were covered with water.
In the evening, the wild fowl turned to seek out the Ark
across the dark waves, descending weary,
hungry to the hand of the holy warrior. (1449-63)

Then soon was the wild dove sent from the coffer, after a week.
She flew widely until she, free-happy, found a fair resting spot
and the gentle bird stepped with her feet on a tree.
She rejoiced blithe-minded after she was allowed to sit
so weary in the bright twigs of a tree. She shook her feathers,
and soon departed flying with her gift, the flier brought
a single twig of an olive tree to Noah’s hand, a green blossom.
Then the lord of the float-men knew quickly that comfort
was coming, help for his troublesome journey.
About a week later, once again the blessed man sent out
alone a third wild dove. She never came again flying to the ship,
but she found land, the green trees. The joyful bird did not wish
to appear ever afterwards beneath the pitched boards
in the planked fortress, when there was no need for her to. (1464-82)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Genesis A XXI

This section contains a most vexing passage, which if any of you could help me shed some light upon I would be grateful. The passage is lines 1400-1 and it goes like this:

Þam æt niehstan wæs nan to gedale,
nymþe heof wæs ahafen on þa hean lyft,

I have had to add a few things to make it make sense to me (see the translation below). Like I said, if you have a suggestion for how to translate it more effectively, let me know!


Then our Savior spoke to Noah: “I will give you,
dearest of men, my pledge, that you will take up a way
and this vessel of life shall carry you across the deep water
many a day-count in the bosom of this ship.
Bring forth, so I order you, under the decks of the Ark your sons,
first-spears three, and your four wives. And take seven
into that sea-house told by count of every creature which
exists as meat for men, and two of all the rest.
Likewise bring all the fruits of the earth as food
under the wave-boards for your people, who
must survive with you upon the sea-flood.
Feed them freely, the progeny of living things
until I wish to make abundant under the heavens
food for the survivors of the water-journeys again. (1327-44)

“Go forth now with your family, go into that house
with the host of living things. I know you are good, fast-minded;
you are worthy of my protection, of favor with your sons.
I will let fall in my face now over seven nights
a slaughtering rain down upon the broad earth.
For forty days I will avenge my feud upon men
and with an army of waves I will destroy possession
and possessor alike which are outside the boards of the Ark
when the dark stormclouds begin to gather.” (1345-55)

And then Noah went, just as his Savior commanded,
leading his sons under the deck of the Ark, men
on the wave-plank and their wives as well and all
that the Lord Almighty wished to have as offspring
to their food-giver under the roof of the journey-ship*
just as the Almighty Lord of Hosts ordered by his word.
At his heels, the Warden of Heaven’s Realm locked up
the mouth of the sea-house with his own hands,
the Wielder of Victories, and blessed those within the Ark
with his own power, our Savior. (1356-67a)

Noah, the son of Lamech, was six hundred winters old
when he with his sons went down under the deck,
wise with his children, by the order of God, precious to the multitude.
The Lord sent rain from the heavens and allowed likewise
a welling gush to press upon the roomy world from every spring,
dark water-streams rushed. The seas rose up over the sea-cliffs.
Strong and fierce was he who controlled the waters.
The children of the wicked feud, of middle-earth were covered
and concealed by the black waves, the homelands of men.
The house of earth was harried, the Maker avenged
the willful crimes upon mankind. The strong sea grabbed
onto the fated folk for forty days, and forty nights as well.
The hate was ferocious, slaughter-cruel towards men.
The waves of the Glory-King drove out the spirits
of the dishonored from their flesh-homes.
The Flood covered them all, the high mountains stormy
under the heavens throughout the wide earth and heaved up
onto the seas the Ark from the ground and with it the nobles.
Then the Lord himself signified, our Shaper,
when he had closed up that ship. (1367b-91)

Afterwards the best of houses floated widely under the sky
over the ring of the waves, faring with its cargo.
The terrors were allowed to touch the wave-sailors
of the water in their ship violently, but the Holy God
carried them and preserved them. The drench-flood stood
fifteen man-cubits deep over the mountains. That is a well-known event!
Finally there was nothing of that death for them
except lamentation lifted up on the high breeze*
when the watery host wasted all the stock of the earth,
except what the decks of the Ark held up by the Lord of Heaven,
when God, holy and eternal, allowed the obedient flood
to mount up in streams, the stiff-minded King. (1392-1406)