it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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and the moon swept down black water like an empty spotlight.

So, one of the fun things I get to do for By the Mountain Bound is play the paraphrasing game. Because I am desirous of using some chunks of, in particular, the Poetic Eddas as chapter headers.

But as I don't speak any species of Scandanavian language (I have some German and I used to be somewhat fluent in Anglo-Saxon, believe it or not, but I haven't used it in fifteen years and one does forget) and I certainly don't care for any of the existing translations enough to pay licensing fees for them, or waste days researching, I'm playing the paraphrase game! (I did the same thing with the T'ang dynasty poetry in Scardown and Worldwired. Got as many translations as I could lay hands on, and kicked the damned poems around until I had a phrasing I liked.

To give you an idea of how it works, here's the first verse of the Hávámál, which is otherwise known as Odin's advice to young men in want of a life of adventure... but not too much adventure.

Olive Bray's version:

At every door-way,
ere one enters,
one should spy round,
one should pry round
for uncertain is the witting
that there be no foeman sitting,
within, before one on the floor

 (truepenny points out that cribbing the rhyme and meter scheme from The Raven may have been an unfortunate choice.)

Benjamin Thorpe's version:

1. All door-ways,
before going forward,
should be looked to;
for difficult it is to know
where foes may sit
within a dwelling.

W H Auden & P B Taylor's version:

The man who stands at a strange threshold,
Should be cautious before he cross it,
Glance this way and that:
Who knows beforehand what foes may sit awaiting him in the hall?


Threshold-crossing   be full foe-heedful
Unsounded doorways   lead to dark doings
Lurkers loiter   and lancing strike

Yeah, I'm quite sure my poetic structures are all wrong. I'm going for look-and-feel (atmosphere) more than accuracy (I'm a fictioneer, Jim, not an academic) and frankly I don't have the skills to do it right. ellen_fremedon and stillsostrange can come kick my ass about it later. They can join the Bad French lynch mob.

Tags: edda of burdens, the writer at work
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