26 June 2011

Another thought on the first sentence

As I've said, the first sentence of Beowulf is hard to get right in a way that combines satisfying ease of reading and satisfying accuracy. This time, I'm focussing on the second line. It says

þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon, 

The first word means "people's kings," and I have been using "their nobles" to approximate it. I want to have an "n" sound in there to alliterate with "we know their fame." Is this an improvement?

that nation's kings...

or, since we need to vary the rhythm a bit,

the kings of that nation

This isn't bad, but I haven't decided to make the change yet.

Upcoming posts: I want to create a post on one of Beowulf's most attractive characteristics: his way with words and the way he always says just the right thing considering whom he is talking to. I have another Fitt translated, of course. I have a few thoughts, too, about whether any of Beowulf's characteristics can still let him serve as a role model, or if the virtues of those early Europeans and English warriors are trapped firmly in Baltic amber, unable to affect us today. Join me later.

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