Sunday, September 18, 2011

A note on progress and the future (oh and Genesis XXXIII too!)

Fast and thick--that's how I would describe the way the translation is proceeding these days. I so want to get to the end of the Genesis and move on to a new poem. I was thinking Christ and Satan might be where to go next, since Elaine Treharne has done excellent translations of the Exodus and Judith already available in her Old and Middle English Literature collection from Blackwell, and since I have no problems with Bradley's rendering of the Phoenix (indeed, I rather like it). The Genesis has been with me for more than a year, and it's tough to see past it to the next project. Well, maybe it will be the Phoenix, since I already have a Blogspot page put together for it.

I was even thinking it would be a laudable deed to do a new translation of King Alfred's Consolation of Philosophy, since there hasn't been a new one published since Browne's in 1920. But that's further down the road, I think, and might even require a newly-edited text (I have to do more research on the bibliography here), which would be a whole mess of work. I gotta get my own book underway first. No one's going to be giving me tenure for these translations, no matter what I end up doing with them...

Here is Genesis XXXIII as well. Section XXXIV is just twenty lines long, so it will probably appear here in a few hours. Stay tuned.


Then Abraham quickly put his face to the ground, and laughter
encircled those prophecies in his own mind and thoughts.
He never himself had looked toward that day, when Sarah, his grey-haired
bride, could bring a son into the world. He readily knew that
that woman had exactly one hundred winters indeed,
told by number. Then he, old of years, spoke to the Measurer:
“May Ishmael live so by your teaching, Lord, and bear thanks
to you with a resolute mind, a strong heart, to accomplish
your wishes by day and by night, by words and by deeds.” (2338-52)

And then fairly the Almighty Lord, the Eternal Ruler, answered him:
“And yet Sarah, old of winters, shall bring a son into this world,
and the world’s way shall proceed truly according to this promise.
I wish now to bless Ishmael with my grace, as you have requested
for your first-born, so that he may experience a host of life-days
in this worldly realm, with many children branching off his stock.
Your request shall be granted! Nevertheless I wish to exalt Isaac,
your son, your young child who is not yet come into this world,
with every glory and success of my will during his days,
and I will truly fulfill my pledge of my heart to him
and my holy spirit-troth, and be gracious unto him.” (2353-69)

Abraham did as the Eternal had commanded him, he set
the peace-mark by his Lord’s order upon his own son,
and the high one ordered that the sign be borne by every man,
who was his servant of the weaponed-kind,* mindful of the pledge,
wise of heart, when God gave to him the true pact, and himself
took on its bright token. Always the Measurer showed his glory,
the Doom-fast King, with his prosperities in this world’s realm.
He carried out that circumcision upon them since he
even as could perform his Wielder’s will in fear. (2370-81)

[A folio is missing here, which as Doane notes, probably contained material corresponding to Genesis 18:1-11.]

Then the woman laughed at the Lord of Armies, not at all
gladly, but she, old in years, regarded that prophecy with scorn
in her heart. She did not believe in the truth that that outcome
would ensue by God's speech. When the Sovereign of Heaven
overheard Abraham’s bride heave up her joyless laughter
in her bower, then spoke Holy God: “Sarah does not wish
to believe the truth of my words. These events nevertheless
must yet occur just as I have ordered you at the start.
I spoke to you of the truth, in its own time that a son shall be
begotten from that woman. When I visit your camp another time
my repeated promises will be fulfilled for you. You will look
upon your son, your own child, my dear Abraham!” (2382-98)

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