Friday, February 3, 2012

A Nice Turn of Phrase in Beowulf

"hleorbolster onfeng eorles andwlitan" l. 688b-689a in the Klaeber edition. It means 'the cheek-bolster (pillow) received the hero's face(head)". Wonderful isn't it? This is an example of why Beowulf is such a work of art. It isn't the hero laying himself down, the pillow is the subject. It is active in taking, receiving the hero.


Anachronist said...

This turn of phrase makes me think of Homer. He liked pathetic falacy as well.

"The wine urges me on, the bewitching wine, which sets even a wise man to singing and to laughing gently and rouses him up to dance and brings forth words which were better unspoken."

Homer, The Odyssey

Tracy said...

I'm very tempted to read Beowulf at some stage, probably in the winter.

The Red Witch said...

I am surprised you have not read Beowulf. I can recommend a translation if you want.
Ana, is that the Chapman translation? He did do a marvelous translation of Homer. I wish I could read Greek so I could tell you if that line sounds as it does because of Homer or his translator.

Anachronist said...

Yes, it is the Chapman translation. Original text of Homer is hellishly difficult - a lot of these archaic words which are not used by anybody else. If you ever pick Liddel and Scott dictionary you will see that plenty of words have their different Homeric meaning, stated there separately. Translating must be fun!

The Red Witch said...

It took Chapman thirty years. As an Elizabethan translator, he would not be aiming for the accuracy that we would go for. The phrase probably owes its beauty not a little to him.