I just started the process of getting back to the longer poems, so I’m going to start with Guthlac A, which was originally the second translation produced for the first incarnation of ASNPP. Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about the poem and its translations (making a blog post that I have not quite finished yet), and especially its mysterious opening invocation of the soul going to heaven, which has been said to bridge the gap between Christ III and Guthlac A (although given the ferocity and clamor of the former, maybe the transition was conceived to ease the way from the conflictual to the spiritual enlightenment and proto-pacifism of Guthlac). I brought both volumes of Muir with me on vacation, so I’ll be getting to a lot more of the Exeter Book while I’m away. I know how to live…

Muir points out that the long-standing confusion on where Christ ends and Guthlac begins ought to be more or less settled codicologically by the large capitals starting a new item at “Se bið gefeana fægrast,” at least in the mind of the scribe. I decided to shift the beginning of the first section of Guthlac A to line 30, following Muir’s observation that that line is identical to the opening of “The Panther” and perhaps represents one type of traditional opening move. This curtails the “Prologue” as I had originally conceived it, but that’s okay.

In revisions so far (still early, it will probably take 2-3 days to get both Guthlac poems finished) I corrected a few technically erroneous readings or near-misses (a “þa þe” was given as “when that” instead of “those who”), reworded a bit for power, alliteration or other sound-relations, and sense, and then broke up the passages into smaller stanzas (similar to what was done in the Riddles), to give a greater sense of the lyrical feeling of the section.

I’ll be continuing soon to do this much-needed work.

Quick update: stopping today at line 312a. That’s plenty for one day, almost half of A. There are not tons of issues, though I am tinkering with lineation and diction. That’s nice to see: like I said above, this was the second poem I started, and I was still very much learning Old English as I went forwards.

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