Communicator (communicator) wrote,

The Green Chapel

happytune is reading the new translation of Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage. It was written in a North Midlands dialect of Middle English (the Green Chapel is in Staffordshire I think). We were talking at lunchtime about how it's nice to read a translation by a Northerner.

happytune points to this Times article by Alan Garner about the poem including various translations of the same passage by Garner himself, Simon Armitage, JRR Tolkein and Ted Hughes. What a fascinating contrast. I love comparing translations.

The Green Chapel

“wysty is here;
Þis oritore is ugly, with erbez overgrowen;
Wel bisemez þe wy3e wruxled in grene
Dele here his devocioun on þe develez wyse."

'This is a soulless spot,
a ghostly cathedral overgrown with grass,
the kind of kirk where that camouflaged man
might deal in devilment and all things dark.' (Armitage)

'‘Tis a wilderness here!
This oratory looks evil. With herbs overgrown
it fits well that fellow transformed into green
to follow here his devotions in the Devil’s fashion.' (Tolkein)

'This is desolation.
This oratory is ugly, under its weeds.
The right crypt for that ogre, in his greenery,
To deal with his devotions devil-fashion.' (Hughes)

'Wasted is here;
This oratory is ugly, with herbs overgrowen;
Well it beseems the wag ruckled in green
To deal here his devotions in the Devil’s wise.' (Garner)

Here's my effort at the same passage:

“This place is desolate:
This evil chapel, overgrown with grass -
It suits the man, who is himself all-green,
For his satanic ministry"

  • Phew what a scorcher

    I see Gove has backed down on climate change and it's back in the curriculum again.

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    My book is now for sale

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