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Andreas: The Legend of St. Andrew   By: (1877-1950)

Book cover

First Page:

YALE STUDIES IN ENGLISH

ALBERT S. COOK, EDITOR

VII

ANDREAS:

THE LEGEND OF ST. ANDREW

TRANSLATED FROM THE OLD ENGLISH

BY

ROBERT KILBURN ROOT

NEW YORK

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

1899

ERRATA.

p. IV. For Angelsächsen read Angelsachsen .

p. V. " Fritsche " Fritzsche.

p. IX. " homilest " homilist.

p. 18, 1. 550. " has " hast.

p. 27, 1. 835. " 'Till " Till.

P. 57. " Siever's " Sievers'.

PREFACE

It is always a somewhat hardy undertaking to attempt the translation of poetry, for such a translation will at the best be but a shadow of that which it would fain represent. Yet I trust that even an imperfect rendering of one of the best of the Old English poems will in some measure contribute towards a wider appreciation of our earliest literature, for the poem is accessible to the general reader only in the baldly literal and somewhat inaccurate translation of Kemble, published in 1843, and now out of print.

I have chosen blank verse as the most suitable metre for the translation of a long and dignified narrative poem, as the metre which can most nearly reproduce the strength, the nobility, the variety and rapidity of the original. The ballad measure as used by Lumsden in his translation of Beowulf is monotonous and trivial, while the measure used by Morris and others, and intended as an imitation of the Old English alliterative measure, is wholly impracticable. It is a hybrid product, neither Old English nor modern, producing both weariness and disgust; for, while copying the external features of its original, it loses wholly its æsthetic qualities.

In my diction I have sought after simple and idiomatic English, studying the noble archaism of the King James Bible, rather than affecting the Wardour Street dialect of William Morris or Professor Earle, which is often utterly unintelligible to any but the special student of Middle English. My translation is faithful, but not literal; I have not hesitated to make a passive construction active, or to translate a compound adjective by a phrase. To quote from King Alfred's preface to his translation of Boethius, I have "at times translated word by word, and at times sense by sense, in whatsoever way I might most clearly and intelligibly interpret it."

The text followed is that of Grein Wülker in the Bibliothek der Angelsächsischen Poesie (Leipzig, 1894), and the lines of my translation are numbered according to that edition. I have not, however, felt obliged to follow his punctuation. Where it has seemed best to adopt other readings, I have mentioned the fact in my notes.

I have compared my translation with those of Kemble and Grein ( Dichtungen der Angelsächsen ), and am occasionally indebted to them for a word or a phrase.

It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. Frank H. Chase, who has very carefully read my translation in manuscript; and to Professor Albert S. Cook, who has given me his help and advice at all stages of my work from its inception to its publication. To Mr. Charles G. Osgood, Jr., I am also indebted for valuable criticism.

ROBERT KILBURN ROOT.

YALE UNIVERSITY, April 7, 1899.

INTRODUCTION

[Sidenote: The Manuscript .]

While traveling in Italy during the year 1832, Dr. Blume, a German scholar, discovered in the cathedral library at Vercelli an Old English manuscript containing both poetry and prose. The longest and the best of the poems is the Andreas , or Legend of St. Andrew .

How did this manuscript find its way across the Alps into a country where its language was wholly unintelligible? Several theories have been advanced, the most plausible being that advocated by Cook.[1] According to this view it was carried thither by Cardinal Guala, who during the reign of Henry III was prior of St... Continue reading book >>




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