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Crossley -Holland's Translation
As I translated The Battle of Maldon for this project I came across a few items that I felt should be shared, but did not fit into other places of the project. So I am putting them here. I hope that these items will help readers to understand why I chose to translate and present the poem the way that I did.
The first of these items was my choice between presenting the translation in prose or in a verse format. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. With prose the big advantage is that you can rearrange the text into full sentence structure. With any translation this becomes easier for formatting in your own language. Formatting is an issue because different parts of the sentences are found on different lines of the poem. The disadvantage is that a lot of the feel of the poem is lost. With verse translation a lot of the feel is kept, however it can be very hard to make sense of lines because parts of the sentences are not together.
With these factors in mind I chose to do a verse translation. One of the biggest reasons I chose this is because of the feel of the poem. In a lot of Old English translations I have read the meaning is retained, but none of the medieval feel. Remembering that these poems were to be preformed out loud I wanted my translation to sound well out loud. So my final step was an oral reading.
One major word issue that I ran into was how does the word “Franca” mean spear? Literally this word means French, so why does it translate, both in other translations and dictionaries, as spear? In my background research I found the answer. In 1962, J.B. Bessinger explains that the name is referring to where the spear was made; similarly when it says southern spear this is not the direction the spear was thrown but instead where the spear was from (26-27). This makes sense to me because in my personal research I have found that during the nine and ten hundreds the best European swords were made in France.
While I have previously had an understanding of Germanic Comitatus, warrior ethic, I gained a deeper understanding while translating. Due to this I chose to make that the theme of my research paper. Delving deeper into this greatly helped me. Because as I further understood the Comitatus I was able see how the poem’s feel and theme evolved. I then tried to pour this into how is sounded in modern form.
I hope that all of this helps. I have learned much from this translation project and hope it will be of help to other Old English students.
Wes žu hal and ic žancie že,
Bessing, J.B. “Maldon and Olafsdrapa: An Historical Caveat.” Comparative Literature 14.1 (1962): 23-35. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.