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The Earliest English Poems af Various
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The Earliest English Poems (original 1966; udgave 1966)

af Various (Forfatter), Michael Alexander (Oversætter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
539945,105 (3.9)8
Anglo-Saxon poetry was produced between 700 and 1000 AD for an audience that delighted in technical accomplishment, and the durable works of Old English verse spring from the source of the English language. Michael Alexander has translated the best of the Old English poetry into modern English and into a verse form that retains the qualities of Anglo-Saxon metre and alliteration. Included in this selection are the "heroic poems" such as Widsith, Deor, Brunanburh and Maldon, and passages from Beowulf; some of the famous 'riddles' from The Exeter Book; all the "elegies," including The Ruin, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wife's Complaint and The Husband's Message, in which the virtu of Old English is found in its purest and most concentrated form; together with the great Christian poem The Dream of the Rood. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.… (mere)
Medlem:psalva
Titel:The Earliest English Poems
Forfattere:Various (Forfatter)
Andre forfattere:Michael Alexander (Oversætter)
Info:Penguin Classics (1966), Edition: 2nd Edition 6th Printing, 160 pages
Samlinger:Books I Own, Læser for øjeblikket
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Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Earliest English Poems af Michael Alexander (Editor) (1966)

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Alexander makes accessible poems that cannot be understood by native speakers of modern English without significant time and effort. Poems that nevertheless form the foundation of poetry in English and provide a window on the Anglo-Saxon world, its history, culture and values. This collection, despite its modest size, shows the range of modes and interests of Anglo-Saxon verse. Fragments such as The Battle of Maldon also make me wonder how much great literature has been lost irretreivably - a sad thought. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
If readers ever stop to consider Old English literature, they likely will think about Beowulf or Chaucer. This collection of poetry fragments is one of the few books accessible to the average reader to present a selection of other preserved works that were written in Old English. The intention of the anthology is to demonstrate the variety of recorded texts from a distant past that is not as appreciated as it should be, to illustrate the oral skill of the storytellers and show how this storytelling was converted to the written form, and to teach on the particular traits of the poetry that made this a highly polished art form.

The book does offer several fragments from Beowulf. The rest, however, are pieces that are likely new to readers who aren't scholars in the field. Several of the poems are sections from extended poems that detailed important battles. Others are described as elegies or laments, and a few are nearly incomprehensible in their subject matter now that we are so far removed from their contexts. The book presents a selection of riddles, a typical past time in those Anglo-Saxon days, and an example of a beautiful poem that blends the new Christian religion with preexisting pagan traditions. Themes that were important to the listeners and tellers of those tales quickly become apparent: the importance of kin and community, the need for battles, the glory of battles, an emphasis on honor and courage, the seafaring life, the despair over being isolated and separated from family, and the power of the story teller.

I found this to be an intellectual read, very interesting in revealing an old culture and a way of storytelling that had power and beauty but is no longer practiced in the same manner. Our poetry has evolved into a very different form. Every excerpt, and most of these were excerpts, was accompanied with introductions and extensive footnotes. The selections were short, which helped to keep the reading move along smoothly. On the other hand, the reading was quite different from an escapist book. It was methodical and focused, and appealed to me because it expanded my knowledge of literature, not because it was a thrilling story. Occasionally I read for fun, sometimes for the dense play of language and literature, and at other times for information or growth. In this case, I was interested in the language and the information. The fascinating world of reading has so many rich new avenues to explore, and this book sheds just a small light on one of them. ( )
  nmhale | Jul 2, 2015 |
Exactly as advertised. I think Mr. Alexander is a capable translator, and the book contains my favourite Early English Poem, "The Ruin" on page 28 -9. ...It is a kingly thing....City... ( )
  DinadansFriend | Dec 22, 2013 |
The Earliest English Poems (Penguin Classics), translated by Michael Alexander, who also did the excellent Penguin translation of Beowulf.

Alexander selected what he regards as the cream of the crop of Anglo-Saxon poetry. The style of his translations varies somewhat since he translated these works over a period of time, during which his attitudes toward translation changed. He adhered throughout, however, to the Old English verse format, built on a line composed of two clearly distinct half-lines, each with two beats, all held together by alliteration. He also tried to use as many of the Old English words as he could that would be still intelligible to modern readers. This choice of words gives his renderings a lot of strength and differentiates the diction from a more generalized heroic verse style that is often found in translations from various literatures and eras.

I find this old poetry, especially the battle poems, very involving and moving. I am not an Old English scholar, so I can't comment on the accuracy of the translation, but I like Alexander's translation of Beowulf better than any other I have read, and these shorter poems measure up to it.

The notes are sometimes helpful, but usually aimed at philologists. The introduction will be helpful to anyone unfamiliar with Anglo-Saxon society and literature, but Alexander's introductory comments on his own translation can be fussy and persnickety, quite the opposite of his poetic style, which is straightforward and forceful. He should let his poetry stand on its own. ( )
1 stem anthonywillard | Jan 6, 2011 |
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This is the sense but not the order of the words as he sang them in his sleep; for verses, though never so well composed, cannot be literally translated out of one language into another without loss of their beauty and loftiness.

Bede, of Caedmon's hymn.
. . . tha ongan ic ongemang othrum mislicum and manigfealdum bisgum thisses kynerices tha boc wendan on Englisc . . . whilum word be worde, whilum andgit of angiete . . . .

Alfred, of Gregory's Cura Pastoralis.
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Well-wrought this wall: Wierds broke it.

The ruin.
The excuse, ultimately, for a book of this sort is a conviction on the part of the author that some early English poems deserve to be read by those who do not make their living out of the subject, that what is excellent should be made current.

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Translations from Old English verse, comprising extracts from 'The ruin', 'Widsith', 'Deor', 'Beowulf', 'The fight at Finnsburgh', 'Waldere', 'The wanderer', 'The seafarer', 'The wife's complaint', 'The husband's message', 'Wulf & Eadwacer', Gnomic verses, Riddles, 'The dream of the rood', and 'The battle of Maldon'.
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Anglo-Saxon poetry was produced between 700 and 1000 AD for an audience that delighted in technical accomplishment, and the durable works of Old English verse spring from the source of the English language. Michael Alexander has translated the best of the Old English poetry into modern English and into a verse form that retains the qualities of Anglo-Saxon metre and alliteration. Included in this selection are the "heroic poems" such as Widsith, Deor, Brunanburh and Maldon, and passages from Beowulf; some of the famous 'riddles' from The Exeter Book; all the "elegies," including The Ruin, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wife's Complaint and The Husband's Message, in which the virtu of Old English is found in its purest and most concentrated form; together with the great Christian poem The Dream of the Rood. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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