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This adventure was the first Arthur had
In the young year, for he yearned to hear of heroics.
Though all were lost for words when they went to be seated,
Now there is hard work to be done; their hands are full.
Gawain was glad to begin those games in the hall,
But have no wonder if the end be heavy;
For though men be merry in mind when they have hard drink,
A year slips away speedily, and never like the last:
The first is full seldom formed like the finish.
Therefore this Yule quickly passed, and the year after,
Each season swiftly shifting into the next:
After Christmas came the slow-creeping Lent
That mortifies flesh with the fish and food more simple.
But then the weather of the world strives against winter;
Cold ceases to cling, clouds arise,
The sheer rain sweeps down in warm showers,
Falls upon fair fields, where flowers unfold.
Both the ground and the groves are clad in green,
Birds briskly build, and blithely they sing
For solace of the soft summer that swiftly comes after
In thanks,
And blossoms bud and blow
In richest rows and ranks,
And sweet notes high and low
Are heard by woods and banks.

Then comes the season of summer with the soft winds
When Zephyrus himself sighs on seeds and herbs:
The plant shall prosper that pushes up shoots
As the damp dew drops off the leaves
To bide a blissful blush of the bright sun.
But then comes harvest to harden the grain,
Warns him before the winter to wax full ripe;
With drought he drives the dust to rise,
From the face of the earth to fly full high;
Wrathful wind from above wrestles with the sun,
The leaves drop from the linden, and alight on the ground,
And all grey grows the grass that was green before;
All that first rose up ripens and rots.
And thus wanes the year in many yesterdays,
And turns to winter again, as the world wags
Its way,
Till Michaelmas's moon
Is come in winter's sway.
Then thinks Gawain full soon
Of his anxious journey.
From: [identity profile]
That has to be one of the best descriptions of the year.
'A year slips away speedily' . . yes, horribly true, even if you haven't got a terrible fate at the end of it

Date: 2009-02-26 04:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is amazing (and melancholy-inducing), isn't it? Also-- you'll appreciate this-- I sweated blood over how to translate "The forme to the fynisment foldes ful selden." It's one of the most important lines in the poem, I think, and I still don't think I have it right. Aargh.

Date: 2009-02-27 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, it does have that 'l├Žne lif' vibe; no doubt why I thought of 'Time'. I love it for the intensity of description, it's almost the directions for the cinematography [0].

I do get your angst; I came very unstuck with vasselage doing Roland. In my head, I know _exactly_ what vasselage is, finding a neat modern word for it . . I was onto a looser there *sigh*

Um, The forme to the fynisment foldes ful selden.
If (like a lot of commentators), you take forme to be like the Platonic form, the ideal form (like in Pearl), then fynishment becomes the physical reality, so you could get something like 'the form [pattern] to the final piece conforms but infrequent', if I'm trying to keep the 'f' alliteration and line length.

[0] Walking to work, I was musing on how Gawain should be filmed (not by Hollywood!!) and that various bits of Dark Side of the Moon would make for a better soundtrack than cod medieval: 'the tolling of the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees' would be so perfect for the Green Chapel. But that's a whole other essay . . . . (on the English elegiac tradition?)

Date: 2009-02-27 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You have seen this, ( right?

Date: 2009-02-28 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hadn't and it's quite scary . . . . it's channelling 80's power-metal album art, and that can't be good

Date: 2009-03-03 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, FWIW, I have made all my Old English and Old French translations public posts now, so if there are other medievalists lurking who want to empathise about the finer points of expressing medieval sentiments to the modern mind, they can ponder my scribbles.


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