Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The development of the English language at your fingertips

This week winding up to the Rona Salon on medieval and medieval poetry I took the liberty of looking up a good example of medieval poetry for my blog - and came across a language/literary timeline full of manuscripts - illustrated/illuminated and otherwise.  It's most fascinating with all sorts of key texts from Beowulf to a sample of an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript and all the way through comprehensive examples of medieval illumination, Chaucer, the first bible in English and more.

If you love old fashioned poetry, literature - or are just fascinated with how language has changed over the centuries this is a fun way to begin that quest with a bit of history and art thrown in for good measure.

Enjoy!
(Picture) Illustrated Tiger and a Knight

The British Library's - Timelines: English Pilot Project
(Although very sadly I couldn't seem to find the Middle English? St Erkenwald anywhere - such a  shame seemed like an interesting poem - with zombies -well, one zombie ;) -and I'd love to see the original)


Today (for a change) we'll end on the final stanza of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Where werre and wrake and wonder
 

Bi syþez hatz wont þerinne,
 

And oft boþe blysse and blunder
 

Ful skete hatz skyfted synne.

(text sourced online here with translation, etc)

A.J. Ponder

 A.J. Ponder's work is available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, and good Wellington bookstores

8 comments:

  1. Very interesting Alicia. There's nothing like a bit of blysse and blunder...thanks for providing the translation as well. It's very jolly sort of writing isn't it.

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    1. Cheers, certainly the meter and etc seem quite jolly - but then when I look closer I always think (imagine?) with these old poems that there must be political social elements that we're simply not getting, so they always seem a little sinister to me as I imagine all sorts of unrest boiling under the surface.

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  2. Fabulous - I love wrake and wonder...blysse and blunder...skyfted synne - how rich!

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  3. thanks - I love the bits you've highlighted - reminds me of reading/analysing the Jabberwocke ;)

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  4. If we could only put the same feeling of unrest boiling (or simmering) under the surface of our poetry, we'd be cooking with gas! I enjoyed this reminder that literature goes back a lot longer than the nineteenth century, Alicia.

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    1. I totally agree - but their unrest may well be part of the reason these works have survived when others didn't (apart from sheer dumb luck) but you know, we can only strive :)

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  5. Yes. That wrake and wonder caught my eye too -- and how can we not love bliss and blunder!?! If you love play in language, I recommend a wonderful book by one of my favourite authors, John Barth. Check out The Sotweed Factor -- written in mid-twentieth century but echoing late-seventeenth century English. All about Maryland tobacco. Yep. It is a gem (linguistically and historically and for its sheer scope of story-telling). I promise you.

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    1. cheers, sounds crazy - and intriguing...

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