Judith, Phoenix and Other Anglo-Saxon Poems

J. Lesslie Hall

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Judith, Phoenix and Other Anglo-Saxon Poems - J. Lesslie Hall

Excerpt from Judith, Phoenix and Other Anglo-Saxon Poems: Translated From the Grein-Wulker Text

Since the very kind reception of my Translation of Beowulf (1892), I have always intended to continue my work in translating Anglo-Saxon poetry, but did not hurry until urged by friends well known in the department of English philology. I now submit a second volume to those that have kindly praised my Beowulf.

I have selected five of the best known and most important Anglo-Saxon poems. Three of these have been well rendered by my friend, Professor James M. Garnett, with whom I have already measured swords in no ungenerous emulation. A fourth one, Andreas, has been put before English readers in iambic blank verse by Mr. R. K. Root; but, from my point of view, that measure is unsuitable for translating Anglo-Saxon poetry. The Phoenix is almost unknown to the English reader, and it is my devout hope that this volume may do something toward adding that ancient gem to the treasures of our modern literature.

The present writer does not claim to have settled the question how Anglo-Saxon poetry should be translated. He still holds the views expressed in the preface, to the Translation of Beowulf (1892), and finds himself in good company. Of prose translations, Stopford Brooke says: "Of all possible translations of poetry, a merely prose translation is the most inaccurate... Prose no more represents poetry than architecture does music." As to rhyming measures and blank verse, also, Brooke's preface to his Early English Literature, p. viii, expresses our views exactly.

Since 1892, the C and D types of Anglo-Saxon verse have grown upon the writer, and quite a large number of them will be found in this volume.

Vowel-quantities have not been marked in the foot-notes. Only scholars would care for them, and they do not need them. The different kinds of marks used in our college text-books is a serious drawback to the student of Anglo-Saxon, and we gladly dispense with all whenever it is possible to do so.

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