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The Elene of Cynewulf translated into English prose   By:

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YALE STUDIES IN ENGLISH

ALBERT S. COOK, EDITOR

XXI

THE

ELENE OF CYNEWULF

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE

BY

LUCIUS HUDSON HOLT

PORTER FELLOW IN ENGLISH IN YALE UNIVERSITY

NEW YORK

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

1904

[FACSIMILE]

PREFACE

This translation was made from the edition of the Elene issued by Charles W. Kent in 1889 (Ginn & Co., Boston). His text is 'that of Zupitza's second edition, carefully compared with W├╝lker's edition and Zupitza's third edition, in which the results of Napier's collation are contained.'

The aim of this translation is to give an accurate and readable modern English prose rendering of the Old English poetry. The translation of Richard Francis Weymouth, entitled A Literal Translation of Cynewulf's Elene , has been at hand, but I owe it practically nothing in this work. While I trust that my rendering has not departed so far from the text that it will be valueless to the student, yet at places it will be found that I have to some extent expanded or contracted the literal translation in the hope of benefiting the modern English version.

My thanks are due to Dr. Robert K. Root and Dr. Chauncey B. Tinker of Yale University, and to Dr. Charles H. Whitman of Lehigh University, for examining part of the work in manuscript, and to Dr. Albert S. Cook of Yale University for a careful reading of the proof.

LUCIUS HUDSON HOLT.

NEW HAVEN, January 1, 1904.

ELENE

1. THE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE.

There had passed in the turn of years, as men mark the tale of time, two hundred and thirty and three winters over the world since the Lord God, the Glory of kings and Light of the faithful, was born on earth in human guise; and it was the sixth 5 year of the reign of Constantine since he was raised in the realm of the Romans to lead their army, a prince of battles. He was a bulwark to his people, 10 valiant with the shield, and gracious to his heroes; and the prince's realm waxed great beneath the heavens. He was a just king, a war lord of men. God strengthened him with majesty and might till 15 he became a joy to many men throughout the world, an avenger for his people when he raised aloft his spear against their foes.

2. THE WAR WITH THE BARBARIANS.

And battle was brought on him, the tumult of strife. The people of the Huns and famous Goths 20 gathered a host together; and the Franks and Hugas marched forth, men fierce in fight and ripe for war. The spears and woven mail coats glittered, as with shouts and clash of shields they lifted up on high the standard of battle. Openly 25 the fighters gathered all together, and the throng marched forth. The wolf in the wood howled his war song, and hid not his secret hopes of carnage; and at the rear of the foe the dewy feathered eagle 30 shrieked his note on high.

A mighty host hastened to war through the cities, gleaned from all the men the Hunnish king could summon from the near lying towns. A vast army sallied forth bands of picked horsemen strengthened 35 the force of the foot soldiers until within a foreign land upon the bank of the Danube these stout souled brandishers of the spear pitched their camp near the water's flow, amid the tumult of the army. They longed to overrun the realm of the 40 Romans, and lay it waste with their hordes.

Then were the dwellers in the cities aware of the Huns' coming. And the emperor straightway bade summon with the greatest speed by dispatch of the arrow his heroes to war against the foes; bade lead out to battle the warriors beneath the heavens. 45 Their hearts inspired by victory, the Roman heroes were soon girt with weapons for the fight, though they had a lesser host for battle than circled about the proud king of the Huns. Then the shields 50 rang, the wood of war clashed; the king with the host, his army, marched forth to strife, and over their heads the raven wailed, dark, and thirsting for the slaughter... Continue reading book >>




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