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Author Topic: Help with OE  (Read 3921 times)


  • ceorl
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  • Posts: 38
Help with OE
« on: April 11, 2016, 12:59:13 PM »
A member of facebook group to which I belong posted this query.  Could anyone offer any help please.  I have pointed her in the direction of the gesidas and hopefully she will be joining at some point in the near future:

"I want to write something with the sense of the last line of the John Dryden poem for St Cecilia ("music shall untune the sky"). I am trying: "hwistlung diht þaem rodor ungeswégan"…is this in the right direction?

I understand "hwistlung" to mean piping so I want to use this word because of the link with organs. Similarly "rodor" as heaven but with the sense of "sky" in the Dryden poem. And changing "ungeswége" to "ungeswégan" should mean "make discordant", yes? I'm also confused about the tense of diht/e and se/sé/þaem etc…any thoughts appreciated." 




  • Ealdormann
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  • Posts: 620
Re: Help with OE
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 08:06:57 PM »

I would like to help you with this but I do not understand the modern English. Poetry and literature are beyond me. I think for this you really want a free translation of the meaning.
However I might be able to help with some of the words given. Your “hwistlung diht þǣm rodor unġeswēgan” I would write as “hwistlung unġeswēgþ þone rodor”
Instead of using hwistlung you might consider sōn, sōncræft or drēamcræft.
Instead of using rodor you might consider lyft, heofon or swegl.
Instead of using unġeswēgan you might consider unswinian, āġītan or drēfan.


  • Guest
Re: Help with OE
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2016, 02:04:16 PM »
I’m a bit puzzled by the lady’s choice of the verb dihtan ‘compose, write’ even with the dative þæm to make it ‘direct, command’. 

A close translation of “music shall untune the sky”, keeping her other choice of vocabulary, would be hwistlung wille þone rodor unġeswégan since scallan in Old English was ‘to be obliged to’, still a pukka verb in its own right that only rarely and lately began to turn into the auxiliary verb of today for which, I feel, its meaning is a bit too strong.

Yet I know nothing of Dryden either so that takes no account of the style and tenor he may well have intended, too.  If the declaration of a wish is intended, one could just put the verb first in the subjunctive: unġeswége þone rodor hwistlung ( “may music untune the sky”).  Yet if a tone of command is intended, there's a bitch because the imperative conjugates identically: unġeswége þone rodor hwistlung ( “untune the sky, music!”).

Also it looks to me that midswégan says ‘harmonize’ more clearly than ġeswégan

Is that any use to her?