- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 9, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393342417
- ISBN-13: 978-0393342413
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation 1st Edition
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“A superb anthology . . . the results are wide-ranging, both in variety of original poems and in the distinctive voices of the translators.”
- John Wilson, Commonweal
“The editors and translators . . . have unlocked the word hoard here, and have made us see this rich legacy with fresh eyes.”
- Michael Wood, Financial Times
“Anyone who has been put off Anglo-Saxon poetry because of the stiffness or academese of older translations will discover much to enjoy in The Word Exchange.”
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post
About the Author
Greg Delanty is an artist-in-residence at Saint Michael’s College. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.
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The editors took what might seem like a sensible approach. Find some modern poets, see what they make of the poems in the old language. The problem is ... modern poets are rotten. There are no modern poets worth a tinker's cuss word. Modern "poets" are a sewing circle of self-regarding award winners, decanted into academic sinecures; no actual human beings read their output. English language poetry is as dead an art as sculpture, painting and projecting an image of female purity and wholesomeness. People used to publish poems in newspapers and popular magazines; people used to memorize poems and recite them to one another. No longer: the Anglo poetic tradition is as dead as Rudyard Kipling. I'm going to venture a guess that the translations of the poems which give me hives were done by people who have never made a serious study of the Anglo Saxon language; something which used to be standard in a high school education. The editor admits many of the invited poets were of this description: a horrible travesty. The language is rich with allusion, alliteration, poetic metaphor and kennings which will be completely lost by an award wining maroon who isn't aware of these things.
The upside; it is an excellent collection of Anglo Saxon poems. If you can read Anglo Saxon, or, like me, puzzle through it with a lexicon, there is much here to amuse. I particularly enjoyed the riddle hoards. You'd probably be better off with the raw poetry and a lexicon, or perhaps literal translations; something one can obtain buying or downloading old books on the subject. Some of the translations (the translations of the least interesting poems, mind you) seem to have been done in workmanlike fashion; I can't fault them all. Probably those poems were translated by people who could actually read the language they were translating.