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)

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