?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Violence

While doing some reading last night, I was reminded of what a great storyteller Chaucer was. Here's his description of a battle between the Greeks and the Trojans from "Troilus and Criseyde." Look how much horror he packs into just four lines:

The longe day, with speres sharpe igrounde,
With arwes, dartes, swerdes, maces felle,
They fighte and bringen hors and man to grounde,
And with hire axes out the braynes quelle.


My inelegant translation:

On that long day, with their spears sharply ground,
With arrows, swords, and maces cruelly stout,
They fight and throw horse and man to the ground
and with their axes bash their foes' brains out.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
nodressrehersal
May. 1st, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
Violence wasn't invented by t.v.or video games? Huh. Next you'll tell me sex existed before these modern evils, too.
patrick_vecchio
May. 1st, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
Chaucer was good at that, too, but I'd be embarrassed to post some lines to demonstrate just how good.
minnesattva
May. 1st, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
Ooh, yes, so very good :)
(Anonymous)
May. 1st, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
How would Chaucer depict today's warfare?
Butt firmly planted in his chair, "Who do we kill today?"
With keyboard and joystick at arm's reach,
The drone launches 10,000 miles away,
and with precision tears bodies to pieces.
patrick_vecchio
May. 1st, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
Re: How would Chaucer depict today's warfare?
That last line is very Chaucerian. Thanks for the comment.
prisonwriter
May. 1st, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
Damn.
patrick_vecchio
May. 1st, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
Grim stuff.
minnesattva
May. 1st, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
I think anything since is doomed to be inelegant, compared to Middle English.
patrick_vecchio
May. 1st, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
I can't "hear" the Middle English, so to speak, and as a result can't fully enjoy the sound and rhythm of the words. But man, the Chauce could tell a helluva story.
minnesattva
May. 1st, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Whereas I can't not hear it, I guess. I learned Chaucer from a professor who made us all read it out loud, and after a few weeks of self-conscious giggling at ourselves we (just as he'd predicted, having seen it all before) settled comfortably into the rhythms and stopped having to gloss all the unfamiliar words. It's surprisingly easy, and it made me fall in love with this version of the language in a way I couldn't love any of the others. It's a great blend of the punning wordplay of Old English and the varied influences that came to charaterize modern English.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

March 2017
S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow